Hazardous Trees at the Center Recreation Complex


The pine trees at the Center Recreation Complex adjacent to the tennis/pickleball courts and swimming pool have been deemed as hazardous. The Town is working with neighbors to hear their concerns, gather feedback, and develop a schedule for removal and replanting plan. Town staff, as well as the Town's independent arborist, held a neighborhood meeting open to the public on April 14, 2022; you can view the video recording online.


The Town received a request from neighbors to evaluate the health of the trees in the Center Recreation Complex after becoming concerned about root damage. An initial review of the trees from a certified arborist found them to be hazardous. The Town then recieved a second opinion from another certified arborist, who also deemed the trees to be hazardous-you can view the arborist's report online (PDF).

Hazardous Trees

A tree does not have to be completely dead to be deemed a hazardous tree. To be deemed a hazardous tree, the tree must have two things:

  • A defect that will cause failure in the tree
  • A target, such as humans or property

In the case of the pine trees at the Center Rec Complex, the potential targets include the homes along Parker Street, and anyone that may in the yards of those homes, as well as people of all ages who are using the Center Rec facilities in the vicinity of the trees. Several other trees in the area were previously removed, including one that fell on a neighbor's home.

Inclement weather can cause hazardous trees to fail, but they can also fail during perfectly calm weather. Town staff have experienced tree failures on a number of occasions in recent past when it was a clear day.

Once a tree is deemed hazardous, it is then under the purview of the Town's Tree Warden, pursuant to Chapter 87 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Replacing the Trees

Additional trees will be planted in place of the hazardous trees. The replacement trees will include a mix of both deciduous and conifer trees. Given the age and condition of the hazardous trees, it is more prudent to remove them now and replant them with a diverse set of trees.

Although there isn't a specific replanting plan in place yet, the Public Works Department will work with the Recreation Department and abutting residents to identify a tree planting plan that would provide an improved visual and sound buffer.

Tree Governance

Trees in Lexington are governed by Part I, Chapter 20 of the General Bylaws under the guidance of the Tree Warden, the Tree Committee, Chapter 87 of the Massachusetts General Laws, and the Department of Public Works within the constraints of Town governance as determined by the Select Board and Town Manager.

Given the proximity of these trees to the Center Recreation Complex, and their prior relationship with abutting neighbors, the Recreation and Community Programs Department has participated in the discussion of these trees, but is not the decision-making body.

Trees in Lexington

From July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, throughout Lexington, the Department of Public Works removed 58 dead, diseased, damaged or otherwise hazardous trees. During that same time period, the Department assisted with the planting of 173 new trees on public land. Additionally, the Department treated 18 trees for pests and disease control, and pruned 123 trees to remove hazards and improve health, structure, shape, and aesthetics.