SCNA Board 10/8/19 

Present:         Gabe Ciociola, Jen Hagar, Dennis Maroney, Milo Martinez, Lynn Murray, Jenn Santo

Guests:            Robert LeBlanc, City of Salem Arborist; Josh Arenstam, City of Salem Tree Commission member

Robert LeBlanc, the City of Salem Arborist stated that the majority of the trees on the Common were quite old – probably around 60 years old and were mainly maples and oaks.  An infestation by Asian longhorn beetles or another pest could completely wipe them out.  The ideal mix would be young or new plantings, trees of middle age, and a few of the older ones. This year, Salem doubled their annual appropriation for tree planting and maintenance.  In 2018, the City conducted a city-wide tree inventory.  In Salem, there are 100 street lane miles and 5000 trees on the right of ways, all of which is the responsibility of the City.  At present time, there are 377 empty tree pits or stumps. The trees were either removed, died, or were somehow destroyed.  In the Spring, 45 tree pits will be tested for gas leaks. This year, 75 trees were planted and 50  had to be removed. The species planted included Pin Oaks, American Elm, Honey Locust , Sweet Gum, Chanticleer, and Red Maple.  The size of tree typically planted in Salem is  a tree 2  1/2 inches in diameter. This size tree has a very high success rate.  However, the health depends on how they are cared for following the planting.  Often times, they are not sufficiently watered, fed, and/or the soil becomes very compacted.  The soil on the Common is overall quite compacted.  This prevents water from getting to the roots and new trees from growing.  In the spring, 45 tree pits will be tested for gas leaks.  There are now 3 men on staff who do the majority of the work, however, big take-downs are contracted out.

Plans for the future include a  218 street tree inventory, plantings in the fall and spring, and promotion of better cultural practices including tree watering, mulching, and fertilization.  The current health of the Common trees is fair to poor.  Efforts must be made to hold back the decline and improve the health. It is important to clean around the base of the tree to get rid of leaves and prevent bugs and fungi from damaging the trees.  It would be helpful to have written policies that specify exactly where events may take place on the Common.  It is suggested that the City establish a grid system with numbers and assign exact locations for those hosting events and require security deposits. This will help facilitate the establishment of drip edge perimeters for trees so that the soil does not get compacted.

LeBlanc also suggested for the Common the development of a working document by a certified arborist that addresses the consistent maintenance of the trees on the Common. The arborist would perform a Level 1 (windshield drive-by) or Level 2 (360 walk around examination of the roots, trunk, and branches) and develop an assessment. Following that would be the design phase to deal with issues that come out of the assessment and what is an acceptable level of risk.

President’s Report

Dennis reported that there was positive feedback from the meeting with HSI and the Salem Preservation Planner.  We are waiting to hear back on how they would like to proceed likely in November after October festivities are over.  Update: Status Unchanged

The Common Fence Restoration is moving along – sections by Hawthorne and Washington Square East will be removed in September and reinstalled in April 2020. Update: Jenna Ide has confirmed contractors in place with new dates to be forthcoming. 

The renovations to the Bandstand were discussed with the Planning Department.  Phase I to include hardscaping and hatch work was scheduled to begin in August.  Phase II to occur in 2020 subject to funding.  Update: Jenna Ide has confirmed that contractors in place for Phase 1 with new dates to be forthcoming.

The No Smoking ordinance for all parks is still in Committee but expected to pass.  The No Smoking signs are pending and the Common should be the first park to receive them.  Open.

The next NIAC meeting is scheduled for 10/9/19.  Update: NIAC 9/11 minutes circulated. 

New Programs from the City: Solarize MA Plus. Update: We are meeting with Jenna’s team on 10/8 about holding a joint SCNA/City community meeting on this topic.

Other Updates:

  • The “Kids Fest” sponsored by Fiesta has received City approval.  Volunteers needed.
  • The annual yard sale was a success- kudos to Milo and the Events Committee! Jen will send the SCNA newsletter to those who signed up at the yard sale.
  • Gabe continues to follow up with those who said Yes tojoining SCNA on FB.
  • Short notice prevented SCNA from participating in a Ward 2 debate.
  • Brand new wrap around bench by playground receiving positive community feedback.
  • Arch explanatory sign text and images require Board signoff.  We want to ensure there are different images on sign from those on Arch.  PEM has agreed to potentially help.
  • The Hawthorne will be the site for a meeting in early December with Solarize Mass Plus.
  • The Knights of Columbus project, formerly scheduled to become condos, will now be  all rentals.

Vice-President’s report

Gabe presented the estimate for the swags to be made by a local firm.  Dennis and Gabe will be meeting with Bob Monk of the PEM to discuss the commitment of the PEM to undertake and fund this work.  Lynn reminded the board of the City’s commitment, made by Jason Silva, to fund the hardscaping of the arch and to build a concrete pad.

Treasurer’s report

  • Total Funds: $21,971.01
  • Checking $9871.57

New Memberships: $0

Donations: $465

  • Yard Sale $465

Incurred Expenses: $87.54

  • Yard Sale posters                          $12.54 (check #1596)
  • Salem Music Boosters                 $75.00 (check #1597)

Anticipated Expenses:

  • Arch sign $1110-$1710
  • Holiday concert  $750

Savings $3006.49

Arch Fund $9092.95

Common Committee Report

The cleanup after the Food Truck festival was insufficient. There was kitchen grease spilled on different areas of the Common and plastic forks and knives were found throughout.  There needs to be improved monitoring of the cleanup following events.

The rubber rubber surface on playground was cleaned up nicely after Jenn spoke with the landscaping company about the mess of gravel, sticks, acorns, rocks.  DPS has removed fallen branches after neighbors reported issue on See Click fix site. The water fountain is still clogged. The City has put up concrete blocks/ barriers to prevent vehicles from driving into the Common with large crowds for the month of October.

Events Committee Report

The yard sale was a huge success so much so that some non-SCNA members are interested in holding them on a more frequent basis. They would of course be responsible for providing their own tables.  In regard to tables, Jenn suggested that the City be requested to buy new tables to replace those that are stored under the Gazebo and weigh a ton.

Plans are underway for the two weekends of the Kid Fest in October and everyone should be reaching out to friends and acquaintances to volunteer for a two hour shift on one of those weekends.

The holiday concert will be held at the Bridge at 211 on Sunday, December 15th.  Lynn will be responsible for the running of the bake sale but will need at least three volunteers to assist during the crush at intermission..


Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12th.