RUMFORD – Selectmen’s Chairman Greg Buccina is not happy that two selectmen and a former selectman and fire chief cut down trees in front of the Municipal Building early Monday morning without authorization.

“They were acting as citizens. They put the town at huge risk, with total disregard for protocol,” he said Friday.

But a former selectman and fire chief, Eugene Boivin, said other volunteer projects have been completed by his brother, Selectman Arthur Boivin and himself, as well as others, without ever being asked to sign a waiver of liability.

At issue is the surprise removal of the two trees without informing Town Manager Jim Doar, after the board had approved their removal by the Public Works Department at an earlier selectmen’s meeting. The reasons: The 50-plus-year-old Norway maples had broad crowns and insufficient space to grow and detracted from the appearance of the building.

Public works director Andy Russell had said he made a verbal arrangement with a Peru contractor to remove the trees and clean them up for $300. The job was to be done on a Sunday before winter.

As a result of the predawn tree removal, Arthur Boivin and Selectman Frank DiConzo, who helped remove the trees, asked Doar to redirect public works employees from their jobs working on the river walk project, to cleaning up the tree debris, at an estimated cost to the town of about $550, Russell said.

Buccina said he was checking with the Maine Municipal Association, the town charter and ordinances, and the town’s attorney, Tom Carey, about the incident.

“The board is not closing its eyes to this matter, to do what is right,” he said.

He said he and Selectmen Brad Adley and Mark Belanger will get information from Carey, and act on his recommendations.

Eugene Boivin said he was asked by his brother to help him and DiConzo with cutting down the trees. He said all safety equipment except chaps and a helmet with face guards were worn.

He said the trio yellow taped and barricaded the area the night before.

“The safest time to do it was when no one was around,” he said of the 5:45 a.m. cutting.

Doar said Friday afternoon that he believed his authority was undermined when he wasn’t told the tree-cutting was going to take place.

“I have no problem with them doing it if they had followed the proper procedure and safety steps. It would have been like any other volunteer job,” he said.

Arthur Boivin had said soon after the tree removal that he did not tell the town manager. He gave no reason except to say it is nice to surprise people, and if something is to be done, it should just be done.

DiConzo could not be reached for comment, and Arthur Boivin was out of the country on Friday.

Buccina said he had received a lot of outcries from people about the incident. When a decision is made as to what, if any, action will be taken, he said he would make further comments.

“This is very important to me personally, and shouldn’t be laughed off as a joke. We’ll look at every option. Nothing like this has ever happened, to my knowledge,” he said.

No one had lodged a formal complaint as of Friday afternoon, Buccina said.

“This is an insult to the people who didn’t want the trees taken down, by those who did,” he said. “We have a lot of good things in this town. This makes us look bad.”

Eugene Boivin said other projects in town have not been taken care of, despite repeated requests to do so.

As examples, he said trees by the water wheel, which he helped build, need to be removed, and the deck at the information center, which he also helped build, needs a coat of water seal.

“Sometimes dealing with functionaries delays a project,” he said.


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