Responding to a request by the Watertown Town Council that tree warden Chris Hayward order NStar to stop pruning trees until fall, NStar announced that it is halting pruning of its own accord until an agreement can be reached.
"We heard about the request at last night's meeting and stopped today," NStar spokesman Michael Durand said Wednesday. "We're going to try to talk to town officials about the best way to go forward as soon as possible."
NStar resumed pruning on Monday after an initial delay because residents and officials feared the utility's strategy would harm the town's shade trees.
A series of subsequent meetings saw Hayward present NStar with a memo outlining best practices for future efforts that included pruning in spring or fall, when the activity is less damaging to the trees' leaf structure.
However, NStar warned that delaying pruning any further could mean interruptions in cable and electrical service for Watertown's residents.
"We have to balance the aesthetic needs of the town with our commitment to provide reliable electric service," Durand said. "The pruning program we use is carried out under the direction of our staff arborists, and trains the trees to grow around power lines. We believe it is the best way to ensure reliability in our service."
The councilors are requesting that Hayward stop all pruning until at least Labor Day. Cecelia Lenk, a town councilor who also holds a doctorate in plant ecology, said October would be better.
"We're really hoping to continue before fall," Durand said.
A formal date for a meeting with NStar and Hayward has not been set.
Sarah Thomas can be reached at email@example.com.