An 1890s Fred Philpot photo of York County Courthouse shows the plethora of maple trees planted on the lawn at York County Court House in Alfred. Contributed / Sanford Springvale Historical Society

The stately old maple trees on the front lawn at York County Courthouse in Alfred are often admired for their grace and beauty.

The maples have provided shade on hot, sunny days over many years, been tapped for their sweet sap for maple syrup many a spring, and provide a warm, colorful palate as summer days turn to autumn.

And that will continue, York County government officials say.

But a trio of maple trees close to Court Street and a couple of pine trees on the Alfred village side of the main lawn have succumbed to age and are rotting from the inside out. Tree specialists tell county officials, they need to come down.

All in all, seven trees – the two maples and two pine trees on the main lawn, along with a maple tree on the grass facing Alfred Post Office, and two dead trees in the parking lot – are scheduled to come down this summer.

“It’s a safety issue for the courthouse, for residents and for the power supply,” said York County Facilities Manager Richard deRochemont.

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One of the maple trees has grown in such a way that it is leaning toward power lines on Court Street and could present issues in storms similar to those earlier this year.

York County Facilities Manager Richard deRochemont examines one of a handful of rotting or dead trees on the York County Court House property in Alfred on a recent day. Sometime this summer, three dead maple trees and two dead pine trees on the lawns, plus two dead trees in the parking lot will be removed. The remainder of the trees – for the most part, maples – appear to be in good shape, he said. Contributed / York County Government

The second main lawn maple tree – one of the largest in diameter and thought to have been on the property for a very long time, has rotted inside, said deRochemont. That tree, which at some point over its long life branched out in several directions, currently has a rose bush growing from the area where the limbs meet – a sign the tree is rotting, arborists have said.

It is unclear exactly how old that particular tree may be, perhaps “hundreds,” of years, said deRochemont.

Estimates vary on the longevity of maple trees, depending on the source of information. According to the New England Forestry Foundation, sugar maples can live as long as 400 years. Other sources, like the West Hartford, Connecticut-based Westmoor Arboretum, estimated their lifespan at up to 250 years.

The pines on the opposite side of the lawn are dead and for the most part, bare-limbed.

deRochemont said he has consulted with two arborists who have said the trees need to be removed.

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The trees are scheduled to come down sometime this summer. Some of the remaining trees will be pruned to remove weight and thus avoid limb loss due to storms.

Fortunately, deRochemont noted, the remaining older trees appear to be fine and about 10 years ago, the county government had additional trees planted to help assure the property will remain stately looking for years to come.

If the symmetry of the lawn suffers once the trees are removed, additional trees will be installed, deRochemont said.

Tammy Wells is a media specialist with York County Government.

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