Letter to Branford’s Board of Selectmen

It’s been over six months since a tree fell on my wife’s car and the town has not conducted an investigation into the cause. We drive by on our way to Stop and Shop and see the stump of the tree. There are several stumps like it along Leetes Island Road. Public Works has no record of the incident on September 6, 2022 – not a single line of narrative of the incident according to our FOIA requests. Turns out they don’t have records of much of anything. It never happened as far as the town is concerned. No arborists reports – what was the tree’s species or physical characteristics? Was it afflicted by disease or infected by insects? Or just old age and rot. No mention of other surrounding trees that my also threaten the lives of future passersby. Not even its GPS coordinates. We only have the Branford Fire Department photos. Thank God for those.

So I wrote the following letter. We’ll wait and see.



Mr. James Cosgrove, Branford First Selectman

Branford Board of Selectmen

Branford, CT 06405

Dear Mr. Cosgrove and Board of Selectmen:

As you are aware, the RTM recently revised the town code that governs the duties of the town tree warden. This revision was in response to a September 6, 2022 accident when my wife experienced a near fatal encounter with a falling tree while driving south on Leetes Island Road.

It has been revealed that the town has not had a state certified tree warden for almost three years, as required by both state statutes, and previous and revised versions of the town code.

After September 6, our repeated attempts to contact either the town public works director or the town tree warden (one and the same) failed. The revised town code now requires that the town tree warden respond to taxpayer tree-related requests.

As of September 6, and as of this writing, the town tree warden webpage does not list the name or e-mail address of a state certified tree warden or anyone acting in that capacity.

It’s for these reasons that I’m appealing directly to the Board.

It should also be noted that a freedom of information act (FOIA) request revealed the outrageous fact that the town public works administration has no record of the post-accident cleanup on September 6, 2022, even given the severity of the near-fatal event involving a roadside tree.

We wonder if other similar events have not been recorded by Branford public works. We hope that the new tree warden will keep publicly accessible records.

Finally, we are concerned that the group of roadside trees that contained the tree that fell on our car continue to present a danger to Leetes Island Road drivers. We believe they are rooted in private, downward sloping soil next to the town right of way. According to the police report, these trees are across Leetes Island Road from Eversource utility pole number 44736, which was damaged by the same tree that struck my wife’s car.

According to Sec, 16-10 A and C of the revised town code, the tree warden has the town and state authority to remove private roadside trees that present a threat to public safety.

Given the town does not have a state certified tree warden, we suggest the deployment of on-call arborists to evaluate the public safety risk before prevalent recent windstorms weaken these trees further.

Jerry Shaw

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