NEWBURY — Moody Street has its tree back. For as long as many folks living in the section of Byfield known as Dogwood can recall, a tree has graced a spot at the intersection of Moody and Main streets. That is, it did until last year when the “Moody Street tree” was uprooted in the name of progress.
As of last Friday, however, a new tree stands nearby where the old one was cut down, ensuring that a favorite tradition for the children of Dogwood will continue for future generations.
The Moody Street tree was a special spot in town for Dogwood kids, who were known to climb all over it while waiting for the school bus each weekday morning. The original tree was a maple; but when it got diseased, it was replaced in 1990 with a honey locust, planted in honor of the late Maude Ryan, a dedicated member of Byfield Community United Methodist Church.
Last year, the 23-year-old honey locust was cut down without any prior public notice.
At the time, town officials said the demise of the tree was one of several changes that residents could expect as traffic safety improvements were implemented in Byfield Center. In a road safety audit conducted in May 2010, the intersections at Moody, Main and Church streets, at Lunt and Main streets by the Mini Mart, and at Central and Church streets, were all identified as hazards that would need to be altered.
The audit, which was commissioned in response to safety concerns from some Byfield residents, involved representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the transportation planning firm Howard/Stein-Hudson as well as transportation staff from the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.
As town officials began work to improve safety conditions at the intersection last year, the cherished landmark was removed without warning — an action that didn’t sit well with many residents, including Fred and Rusty Davis, who vowed to right the wrong by replacing the honey locust with a red maple tree.