Controversy blooms at Warfield Place in Northampton with the cherry trees to be cut down

Hampshire County

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Robes, prayers, and flowers are now tied to cherry trees lining Warfield Place.

“Buddhists priests came from all over and they ordained these trees as priests,” said Oliver Kellhammer, who lived there for five years. “So they’re not just trees anymore, they’re actually priests. So to kill them would be an act of religious insensitivity and cultural insensitivity.”

The trees have stood there for decades, now they’re scheduled to be chopped down. However, residents don’t know if that will be within the month or by the end of the year. The city said an independent arborist deemed they were coming to the end of their life. However, Oliver said some residents consulted with their own experts who said the trees were healthy.

“We want it to be done well and the sustainable Northampton plan promises collaboration with residents and there was zero here,” said Katie Young.

Oliver and Katie want the project paused, but Paula wants to see the road re-done. Issues like a ripped-up driveway from snow plows and catch basin that’s not properly draining are both hassles she’s worried they might lose out on fixing.

“We don’t necessarily want to see the cherry trees cut down but we recognize that that’s part of the repaving process and creating ADA compliant sidewalks,” said Paula Rigano-Murra, who has had her driveway connect to Warfield Place. They’ve lived there for 32 years. “But my husband and I both agree that cherry trees should absolutely be replanted on the other side of the street.”

22News reached out to the Mayor’s Office and they said there would be no further comment at this time.

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