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Tree crews hindered by winter wrath

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Be careful.

There are still some “widow makers” hanging out on the streets of Watertown.

With this winter’s persistent snowfall, city crews have been unable to clear all the tree limbs hanging over sidewalks and streets that were damaged by the Dec. 21 ice storm.

Eugene P. Hayes, the city of Watertown’s public works superintendent, said that tree crews have been going out to remove dangling limbs whenever they can, but the lingering winter has hampered those efforts.

“There’s been no real thaw, so they have been unable to get going on it,” Mr. Hayes said.

But they have completed some of the work. He emphasized that many “widow makers” — the bigger limbs that could cause serious injury if they fell on someone — have been removed.

Public Works crews planned to take an initial swing around the city to look for and remove hanging tree limbs and branches that pose a danger in the margins, the grassy areas between sidewalks and streets. However, workers were unable to go through with that strategy.

“That’s when I was optimistic when I thought we’d have 100 inches of snow,” Mr. Hayes said. “But now 175 inches have fallen.”

Too much snow remains on the ground, he said. Some snow was expected to melt early this week, but as much as 12 inches of new snow could fall on Wednesday, making a bad situation only worse.

After conducting an inventory of the tree damage in January, senior planner Michael A. Lumbis said 500 trees were damaged, with about 30 that must be removed and about 300 that will take a DPW crew using a bucket truck to prune or repair.

Some of those bigger, older trees were on Thompson Boulevard, South Indiana, Ward and Gill streets, Madison Avenue and Park Drive West, Mr. Hayes said.

He urged residents to contact the Public Works Department if they know of any limbs hanging over sidewalks, the city margins or streets, “because that will make our job easier.”

Residents can call 785-7774 or 785-7842 to report problem tree limbs.

Meanwhile, the city’s Code Enforcement office has not taken any calls from residents complaining about tree limbs that are about to fall, Code Enforcement Supervisor Shawn R. McWayne said.

On Monday, Mr. Hayes also reiterated that property owners should leave downed tree limbs, branches and other debris in their yard and not bring them to the curb.

Despite DPW requests, Mr. Hayes said, many residents placed debris within the margins anyway. Removing the ice-covered debris now could damage DPW equipment, he said.

Mr. Hayes reiterated that all of the debris will be picked up some time this spring, when the weather allows.

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