When Hyattsville resident Anne Williams learned that Pepco had plans to cut down one of the city’s oldest oak trees as part of the its ongoing program to improve services throughout the area, she decided to take action.
Standing before the city council on Oct. 15, Williams asked the city to rescind Pepco’s permit to remove or trim the “heritage tree” in front of her home on 43rd Avenue between Oliver and Oglethorpe streets. She expressed concerns over the company’s pruning methods, saying that they were potentially harmful to an otherwise healthy tree that has been around for more than 70 years.
Mayor Marc Tartaro assured her that the city arborist will be documenting different conditions to consider before letting Pepco execute its plan.
According to Williams, the tree was among the first trees to be planted in the city and is here to serve as a reminder of why Hyattsville proudly calls itself a tree city.
However a power line runs right through William’s tree, which according to Pepco’s five-year, $250 million Reliability Enhancement Plan for Maryland, could cause interference and is eligible for a trimming or complete removal.
“The problem is that there’s a wire that they strung through [the tree] and they did a bad job when they first strung it through. And now they’re seeing it as problem. ...” Williams said. “It doesn’t seem worth taking down the whole tree just for that single wire.”
She doesn’t believe trimming the tree is an option because of the potential damages that the company’s pruning process could cause. Pepco outlines two main pruning methods—one will trim branches located on the side of the power lines to prevent them from growing over the top of the wires while the other will result in a V-shaped “crotch” cut at the center of the tree.
“It’s not thoughtful. It’s very technically oriented. It’s very centric towards their property, which is the wire, and it doesn’t consider the aesthetics at all,” said Williams. “I’m asking them to, since they are dealing with a living thing ... to consider the human factor.”
Williams also sent an email on Monday to Pepco’s vice president, Jerry Pasternak, hoping to negotiate with them a more creative alternative that won’t harm the tree. She proposed that the company place a pole on the other side of the street and have the power line strung across the street and back so it goes around the tree rather than through it.
“I’m going to try and propose my simple idea that seems so very logical to me since they’ve already done it down [the street],” she said. “It’s not a new idea and I know it can be done.”
Pepco’s media relations manager, Marcus Beal, said that engineers are in the process of evaluating the situation to come up with the best solution. And though they will have to adhere to state regulations, he said that the company is willing to work with the community.
“We want to be sensible, but at the same time, we want to get the task done,” Beal said.
Though the line seems to be intertwined with this particular tree, Beal noted that it doesn’t look like the tree will be removed.
“I think this will be a win-win situation for the engineers and the customer,” he said, adding that engineers are already looking at a pool of different options.
At the end of the day, Williams said that she isn’t looking for a fight, but an opportunity to find a compromise. “I’m asking them to be creative, to sit down and work out a solution with me and hopefully they will be willing to negotiate that. “
“I’m asking one of the largest corporations to be human,” she added.