The Colchester Selectboard is hosting a public hearing at their next meeting, Tuesday, Nov. 13, to discuss removing select shade trees in the public right of way in the West Lakeshore Drive area.
The trees are scheduled for removal later this year to make way for the West Lakeshore Drive shared use path project, Colchester assistant public works director Warner Rackley said. This project, which has been in the works since 2014, will “fill in the gaps” in the Colchester bicycle/pedestrian network, he said.
A hearing has to take place before the town can remove any public shade trees that don’t show signs of disease or infestation, Rackley wrote in a memo to the selectboard.
Rackley added property owners abutting the trees were notified. In some cases, he said, landowners are being compensated for the removal of the trees. Additionally, about 120 new trees, shrubs and flowers will be planted in the new corridor after the path is built to accommodate for loss of vegetation, public works director Bryan Osborne said.
Rackley said he does not have a total number of trees that will be removed, as the vegetation varies in size from small bushes to larger trees. The project will go out to bid in mid-November, and the contractor the town chooses will remove the trees will do it for a lump-sum price, not per tree, he added.
Removal of the trees is expected to start later this year, and actual construction of the path will occur during the 2019 construction season, Rackley said. He called the West Lakeshore Dr. shared use path “an important leg” in the bike path connecting Burlington to Colchester and beyond.
The entire project is estimated to cost around $1.6 million, using both local and federal funds, according to the public works website.
The project is part of a bigger set of upgrades to the Malletts Bay area, which will also add a roundabout at the Bayside Park intersection. Osborne said public works is waiting until the spring for “project prioritization” to see if federal funding is available for the roundabout.