GREAT BARRINGTON — There is an old Chinese proverb that reminds us that "the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now."
Now is upon us; trees will be returning to Main Street in mid-April after residents of Great Barrington endured a winter of very little snow and no trees in the downtown corridor.
Last fall, 63 trees on Main Street, most of which were dead or dying, were taken down as part of the town's extensive, $4.2 million Main Street reconstruction.
Voters initially approved the work in 2011 at an annual town meeting. The construction, which included rebuilding sidewalks and streets along the Main Street corridor, also included replacing the trees on Main Street, as well as redoing the drainage and wiring beneath the thoroughfare.
Maxymillian Construction resumed work on the street this week after the winter break. Most of it, according to Joseph Sokul, superintendent of the town's Department of Public Works, will be conduit work underground. But another phase of the work will be planting a total of 83 trees in that area.
This is actually more trees than were taken down last year, according to Sokul. Eagle files show that the town removed 63 pear trees from the Main Street area.
The town has learned from the demise of the pear trees. Sokul explained that the tree beds will be enlarged, to try to prevent the warping of the sidewalks that plagued pedestrians over the last few years the pear trees were up.
In addition, "there will be more diversity," Sokul said, referring to the variety of trees to be planted.
Maxymillian's designated subcontractor for the planting job, CSL Inc. of Ludlow, will be choosing the young trees from a nursery in Northborough by April 7. Planting them will happen in mid-April.
Trees to be planted include elm, maple, cherry, oak, crab apple, hawthorn and yellowwood.
"It sounds like a job I'd like to have," said Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin. "I'd enjoy picking the trees."
Tabakin cautioned residents that the town landscape won't be transformed back to its former grandeur right away.
"I just don't want people to think these trees will be full-grown," she said. "They'll be a little scrawny for while. It will take while for Main Street to look like it did before."
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.