© Guardian photo by Steve Sharratt
Town accountant Sheila Fitzpatrick mocks the see-saw council battle facing the future of the big blue spruce (behind her) at the Montague Town Hall.
'It’s ugly and blocks the sun getting into the building,' says Coun. Jim Bagnall
MONTAGUE — Sprucin’ up for the Yuletide might be a little tougher this year after steps to chop down the big Christmas tree in front of the town hall were approved at Montague council Monday night.
Covered in twinkling Christmas lights, the big blue spruce is a huge crowd-pleaser year after year. However, some say it has grown so large that it almost blocks the view of the building from the street.
Coun. Jim Bagnall says it should be knocked down.
“It’s ugly and blocks the sun getting into the building.”
The evergreen has become a Christmas beacon here but some officials — accused of being “Grinches” — say it’s kindling time for the spruce that is too costly to decorate every year.
“I’m totally opposed to cutting it down,’’ said Coun. Debbie Johnston. “It’s beautiful when decorated and so many people comment on how nice it looks.”
Coun. Wayne Spin concurred and said the tree could be shaped and trimmed rather than removed.
“It looks phenomenal at Christmas,” he said.
But that sentiment wasn’t able to sway the 4-2 vote that sentences the tree to the Christmas axe if approved next month.
The fate of the tree will be officially decided at the Dec. 9 council meeting. If there was a mind change by that time and a tie vote emerged, councillors joked that Mayor Richard Collins could be handed the task of either commuting the chainsaw sentence or becoming the “Grinch who Stole Christmas”.
The tree has grown so large it costs hundreds of dollars every year to hire the equipment to install and remove the lights. Some councillors believe a smaller tree that only grows to 12 feet high would be a cheaper alternative.
“All life ends,’’ said Coun. John MacFarlane. “But we should leave the removal until after Christmas.”
But even that idea was scrapped.
The majority approved the removal of the tree right after the Dec. 9 council meeting. Some type of temporary replacement to display the lights would be installed.