2.9 min readBy Published On: October 31st, 2016Categories: News6 Comments on The curious case of the missing chestnut trees

So renovations have begun at Medal of Honor Park.  We’re sure you’ve noticed the large fence surrounding the park at M Street and construction vehicles tearing up the pathways and lawn to make way for improvements.  But have you noticed the tree stumps.  Well, many neighbors have and are now asking the question, “Why did they cut down the chestnut trees?”  Good question.

It’s speculated that maybe the trees were sick.  But some neighbors disagree and believe the trees were actually healthy.



We reached out to Michelle Folts – project manager of the Medal of Honor Park renovations, but have not heard back yet.  We’ve asked for plans of the renovations to share with you!  Stay tuned!

From someone in the know: The trees removal were apparently listed in the plans for the community meeting last year.  The city’s arborist (yes, there is such a thing) was at the meeting to address any concerns. No one raised any concerns. The trees in question are in fact horse chestnut tree (not the endangered American chestnut tree) and were in “bad shape. ”

From Ryan Woods (no pun intended), Boston Parks and Recreation Department:

Thank you for your interest in the ongoing construction of Medal of Honor park.  The Boston Parks Department apologies for any confusion regarding the trees involved in this project.

The project at Medal of Honor Park includes planting of fifty-five (55) new trees which will bring diversity to the canopy of the park making a significant generational investment to the long term success of the park’s tree canopy. The new plantings will replace the twelve trees removed as part of the project within the past week. The trees removed include several large Norway and Silver Maples (7) showing signs of declining health and deemed prudent for removal by the City Arborist.  In addition, a Horse Chestnut tree in poor health is being removed due to disease.

Seven additional trees (oaks, little leaf linden and crab apples) have also been removed to facilitate the design of the project including the installation of an accessible entrance (M Street) and new access points to the playground.

The rebuilding of the park will include planting a diverse stand of trees that will promote an ecologically diverse green space within South Boston. Species will include red maples (14), horse chestnut (3), honey locust (3), london plane trees (4), red and swamp white oaks (16), linden (3), disease resistant American Elms (4) along with ornamental tree species of redbuds (4) and magnolias (4) known for their seasonal display. 

The Parks and Recreation Department has a  commitment to the improvement and long term health the City’s tree canopy. Trees that were removed include invasive species in poor health and pose a safety risk especially during high winds storm events. The replacement trees should be a healthier, more resilient canopy.

Tree Image via Joanne McDevitt

Editor’s Note: If you grew up in Southie and lived in the neighborhood of M Street Park, you had many a chestnut war on your way home from school. To this day, at our house, we have the old “hide the chestnut in the shoe” running joke.   Chestnut trees – you will be missed!


  1. Matt October 31, 2016 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    Noticed this today when walking up to the park. Hopefully they plant new trees in similar locations. It really opened the park up on the West side next to M Street. Doesn’t look great and those trees seemed healthy enough to me. Take a look at the stumps that were left and you can see they were actually in fact quite healthy trees….

    • Matt November 3, 2016 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Updating my comment with the new park plans that were provided subsequent to my initial reaction… Looks great and thanks for providing the details. Improvements to the park always welcome.

  2. Joanne M. McDevitt October 31, 2016 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    I don’t believe the arborist ever attended the meetings. The parks department has been asked for full explanation and a community meeting to discuss the renovations. There was some discussion about some trees coming down but not 28% of them .

  3. Jim J. November 1, 2016 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Yes you cracked the case. I’m sure the city’s arborist just goes around chopping trees down for the hell of it. I bet you those trees were fine and they just have a wooden coaster business and were short on supplies.

    Enough is enough people, they are planting 55 new trees. That is a net gain of over 40 trees! Some people just need a hobby or need to get laid. Just something to channel all that conspiracy theory energy into something positive.

  4. Typical Millennial November 1, 2016 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Is there a proposed timeline on the project? Obviously things never go according to schedule in this city but it would be nice to know when we get our park back!

    I’m sure the bus stop issues weren’t considered when planning this, now M&N street stops have lost some serious real estate. Another example of the lack of communication between Gov. departments.

  5. Ed November 7, 2016 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    I agree Jim J– let’s pick our battles here.. This project was vetted with the community 1000% – Michele Folts went above and beyond when I contacted her with some questions about the project (I live right next to it) and we are getting much needed repairs. They even asked people on a survey what style fence we would prefer. Let’s give some credit where credit is due–this project was handled well. If you were not paying attention then that’s your fault .To say otherwise makes people look like we are just complaining for the sake of complaining. The bus stops are fine and it will be completed when it is done–geez–relax people.

Leave A Comment