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Pruning of Historic Oak on Town Common

by Reed Pugh in June 2023

On Friday, April 28th, Barrett Tree Service East volunteered a crew of four arborists and their largest bucket truck to prune the beautiful and massive Red Oak on Town Common.

In Back: Jim Shattuck - Winchester Tree Warden, Danny Dunphy, Marcello Oliviera, Alden Johnson - MA/ISA Certified Arborist. In Front: Brock Sainsbury.

Each year on Arbor Day, many arborists, as part of the Massachusetts Arborists Association’s “Arbor Day of Service”, donate their time to work on interesting local projects. Alden Johnson of Barrett Tree, a Certified Arborist who spends most of his time working with clients in Winchester, has had his eye on the historic Oak for several years and was excited at the prospect of bringing a crew in to give it some necessary attention. The donation of time and equipment to the town was valued at $4,000.

The Oak is a Northern Red Oak, Quercus rubra, and has a diameter at breast height (DBH) of 75”, making it a significant specimen in New England. With the bucket truck, that has a maximum reach of 75’, Johnson determined the tree to be about 100’ tall and 75’ wide. Peter Wild, a retired arborist who worked for decades in Winchester, found photos of Town Common from 1905, and there was no indication of a significant tree in the location. From this, Wild estimates the tree is approximately 120 years old, which makes it quite large for its age. He attributes the fast growth of the tree to the high water table of the Aberjona River, that has provided an excellent environment for it to thrive.

Johnson developed a plan with Jim Shattuck, Winchester’s Tree Warden, and Mike Wise, DPW Operations Manager to remove a sizable amount of deadwood and to prune a limited amount of live wood that was becoming problematic.

The Barrett crew arrived at 7:30, and the DPW had already set stakes and safety tape around the tree to keep people safely away from the work and falling branches. For about 5 hours the crew climbed and maneuvered around the broad canopy performing work long overdue for the health of the tree and safety of residents who enjoy spending time underneath. Overall the tree is healthy and considered to be in its early adult life, as Red Oaks can live to be hundreds of years old.

The importance of this tree extends beyond its aesthetic and historic value. A tree of this size sequesters a huge amount of carbon from the atmosphere and produces immense amounts of oxygen. Underneath its canopy, the temperature can be up to 10o cooler on a hot day. Its acorns provide important food for for a number of animals, and the canopy is home to numerous animals and birds as well as a large number of pollinator insects.

Johnson said, “We are excited to be able to donate our services this Arbor Day to the iconic Winchester Common Oak and give back to the community that supports us every season. Happy Arbor Day!”

With proper care and attention the Oak will stand over the Town Common for generations to come.

-Reed Pugh, owner of Barking Dog Gardens, is a local Horticulturist, Writer and Teacher, who works with people to help them get the most out of their gardens.

Student-run Winchester PRIDEfest Well-attended

Special to Winchester News, by Elena Varipatis Baker

The Network for Social Justice—along with event co-sponsors the Winchester Cooperative Bank and Crawford United Methodist Church—hosted PRIDEfest 2023 on the Winchester Town Common. On Tuesday, June 6. Now in its third year, PRIDEfest draws hundreds of people from Winchester, Woburn, Arlington, Lexington, and surrounding towns for an educational, inclusive, safe, joy-filled, family-friendly celebration. As in years past, the event was largely student run by members of the McCall Social Justice Club, McCall Queer Straight Alliance, WHS Spectrum Club, and Network for Social Justice interns. Featuring educational and advocacy-focused booths organized by students, activity tables set up by local businesses and nonprofits, giveaways, a raffle, and speeches, the event promised something for everyone.

Leading up to PRIDEfest, the Winchester Select Board unanimously endorsed a Town Pride proclamation on May 22, formally recognizing the month of June as Pride Month. Pride Month coincides with the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969, a monumental event for the gay rights movement. The proclamation is an important step to ensuring that Winchester’s LGBTQIA+ community feels “safe, supported, and included,” according to a statement of support for the proclamation.

PRIDEfest 2023 kicked off with a re-raising of the Pride flag over the Winchester Town Common, featuring remarks by Select Board Vice Chair Anthea Brady and Network for Social Justice Executive Director Liora Norwich. “I’m so energized by the ongoing work this town is doing, connecting nonprofits, faith communities, local businesses, town authorities, students and families in the ongoing and hard work of advancing equity, inclusion and belonging in Winchester,” said Liora Norwich, Executive Director of the Network for Social Justice.

Following the flag raising, Network for Social Justice Board Member Timothy Matthews addressed the crowd before turning over the microphone to event emcee Miz Diamond Wigfall, along with her DJ Maxine Harrison. Miz Diamond entertained the crowd by dancing, singing, and bantering with the audience. Also taking a turn at the mainstage were three brave McCall QSA students who read a poem and sang for the crowd.

While the weather looked questionable all through the morning, by the afternoon the skies cleared and the sun shone down (and maybe even the Canadian wildfire haze dissipated?) on another fabulous PRIDEfest. With more than 20 faith communities, businesses, organizations, and student groups; drag queens MCing and DJing the event; and upwards of 500 community members, it was exactly the safe and inclusive space its organizers hoped it would be.

In Other News

Transportation Plan Virtual Public Meeting

Wednesday, June 14, 2023
6:00 PM
Remote Access Registration:

"The Town of Winchester has identified and prioritized a draft list of transportation projects as part of our Transportation Plan. Influenced by input shared last summer through a public meeting and an online mapping tool, the Plan is focused on projects that advance safety and accessibility for people using all modes of transportation. The Transportation Plan will guide the Town in implementing projects that add or enhance crosswalks, slow car traffic, redesign intersections, fill sidewalk gaps, and more.

Join our presentation and discussion to learn more about the process behind the draft Winchester Transportation Plan, ask questions about and provide feedback on the draft plan, and hear about next steps for the plan to be finalized.

Please join our virtual Public Meeting on Wednesday, June 14th, 2023 at 6pm on Zoom. The draft plan will be shared with meeting attendees and the wider public for review in the preceding week.”

Register to receive a link to join the meeting! Register using the link above.

Town Manager’s weekly report:


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