City councilors approved $11,000 at the March 2 meeting to pay Hawkes Tree Services to treat city trees infested with brown-tail moths.

Parks and Recreation Director Norm Poirier said the city should “go all in” with all locations proposed instead of picking certain locations over others. He thinks deciding not to treat all proposed areas is not a good use of money, and the city will not make any headway on addressing issues posed by the invasive species.

City Manager Erin Herbig said the initial list of sites to be treated started with places the city receives complaints about from the public. So the proposed locations are what would make fiscal sense and address areas that citizens are concerned about.

Councilor Mary Mortier was concerned nearby gardens at the proposed sites would be affected by the treatments. Licensed Hawkes Arborist Sadia Crosby said they could use tarps to protect sensitive garden plants.

Mortier was also concerned that spraying in May after the caterpillars already hatched would not result in much of an extermination. Crosby said the company treats trees in May when leaf buds are half developed and the caterpillars are about to feed. They will be targeting oak trees heavily, as they are favored by the insect, but also fruit and cherry trees.

The company sprays chemicals from the ground from a 500-gallon tank, she said. Arborists spray the underside of the leaf and then spray up and over the tree to reach the top of the leaves extending up to 95 feet. If winds are above 15 miles per hour, the company cannot spray, so it plans according to wind conditions

Councilor Mike Hurley said he feels the effects of the brown-tail moth no matter where he goes in the city in every season. He said no matter what the city does it will not be enough to eradicate the species from the city.

He notices private properties with infested trees that are near public spaces. Herbig said the city can work with the company to discuss treatment options with residents on their private property as the company is treating city trees.

“I support this, because it really is a public health issue. This afflicts many people, some people incredibly badly,” Hurley said. “You know we’re not doing this for, you know, ornamental reasons; we’re doing this for public health reasons.”

Trees in Walsh Field, City Park Arboretum, along the Harbor Walk, Heritage Park, City Hall, Wales Park, Main Street, the Commons Park and between the footbridge and the beginning of the Rail Trail will be treated. The funds will come from the undesignated fund balance.