Westport’s Warden: Not A Tree-mendous Job

Between school vacation and the news story’s placement on an inside page (below the fold), many Westporters may have missed a very interesting Westport News piece on Wednesday.

Jarret Liotta described Westport’s Tree Board — a 3-person body “hoping to plant the seeds of renewal for its role in town government,” in areas ranging from education and outreach to political action.

Westporters are very protective -- but also ambivalent about -- our trees.

Westporters are very protective — but also ambivalent about — our trees.

Trees are on every Westporter’s mind these days. We don’t like them toppling power lines whenever the wind blows. But we also were upset when a number of them suddenly disappeared from Main Street just before Thanksgiving.

Westport’s Tree Board is seeking ways to influence public discussion of trees — and to get the public interested in the board itself.

But perhaps the most interesting info in Jarret’s story was buried near the end: the fact that Westport has only a 1-day-a-week tree warden.

Also of note (though not mentioned in the article): The tree warden lives about 20 miles away.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff’s proposed 2013-14 budget includes $170,000 “to create a full-time tree warden position and to increase the town’s overall tree work,” Jarret wrote.

But right now — today, as we all love and fear them — there is almost no money for monitoring, removing, planting and pruning trees.

Or for anyone to oversee them.

37 responses to “Westport’s Warden: Not A Tree-mendous Job

  1. In some communities, there are regulations regarding the removal of trees on private property. While that may seem heavy handed to some, in Westport and local towns, who hasn’t screamed after a contractor removes all trees to the property line, using the neighbors trees in the name of “improving” their property?

    • Yes, let’s make Westport a tyrannical town with big brother dictating my life. That would definitely keep people in Westport. Totally.

  2. Can someone tell me why the beautiful Ginko trees were cut to the ground on Main Stree this fall? Don’t tell me its because of the salt water flooding.
    Mine were inundated too and they are alive and growing.

    • The trees were cut down because there is no town policy and there is no accountability. It is easier to cut and say you got the job done (and get paid) than to be creative and find a solutuion. But , I thought Westport was a creative town full of creative people. I think it still is. Let’s get together and fix this. This town was beautiful, and still can be.

  3. I hope they hire a different tree warden if the money is available… the current tree warden seems only interested in doing nothing..shows no regard for homeowners needs.. rather than a full time warden, how about more money for tree work?

  4. That salary is for a tree warden? Not a prison warden…..no wonder our taxes rise

  5. What does a “tree warden” do that a tree contractor doesn’t do? What town department is responsible for managing tree “wardening”? Spending $170,000 to hire someone who doesn’t own a truck or a chainsaw to manage a tree problem seems like a misuse of the town’s limited resource.

    • No, it’s not 170K for the warden alone. As the story says: “First Selectman Gordon Joseloff’s proposed 2013-14 budget includes $170,000 ‘to create a full-time tree warden position and to increase the town’s overall tree work,’ Jarret wrote.”

      • 170k is still far too much.

      • OK / got it. What happened to the process Mr. Alley described below? Is it still in effect? If not, what changed, and who’s currently responsible for administering those responsibilities?

      • What kind of “work” is Jarrett referring to for $170,000…increasing the preservation of trees or increasing the cutting of trees??…these are critical words…please clarify.. Also, who will the warden report to? Will it be the First Selectman or the tree board or both. And who will write the tree warden’s job description and who will provide the tree warden with a job evalaution ????

  6. I was shocked this Christmas season to see Main Street so drab. My husband and I made a special trip one evening to soak in the festive atmosphere and have a drink at Luxe bar, and were disappointed that the street lacked the charm of past years. We pinpointed the lack of lit trees as the culprit.

  7. Loren Sniffen was Westport’s Tree Warden for many years.I don’t know how much he was paid if anything, but if there was a complaint concerning a tree problem, he would answer it within an hour or a day. Loren took the job seriously. If a tree needed to be taken down, it would happen. The same with necessary trimming. Those who remember him certainly miss Loren Sniffen. – Dick Alley

  8. Suzanne Zarrilli

    Stripped of the trees in front of our wonderful Diner makes me sad when approaching the Post Rd from the Sherwood Island connector . The Post Road with it’s tree line streets was so lovely and welcoming. After the Post Road construction …I vaguely remember that the State was allocating money to replace the trees. Does anyone else remember?

    • I asked the owner of the Sherwood Diner YEARS ago why the tress were gone..he said the town took them down to do the post rd sewers and never replaced them..he wanted to replace them..I dont know if he pursued the town to pay for replacements or not..but he did say without the trees his AC bill had increased significantly. that would be reason enough for me to first, pursue the town to replant the trees OR second , to plant them my self with the town’s permission.

  9. The trend of clear-cutting lots to build McMansions and municipal buildings is killing the environment and charm of this town. I wouldn’t place any hope in a committee or warden to save trees any more than the historic preservation commission is empowered to save old homes.

    • How easy it is for you to anonymously criticize and throw out baseless accusations of “McMansions” being the reason. Was residential development responsible for the clearing of trees on the Post Road? How about downtown?

      • All of the aforementioned indiscriminate cutting adds to the problem.However builders are notorious for clear-cutting lots in order to build houses that are out of scale for the property. It is about greed and environmental disregard.The arguments are moot however,tree warden or no. All that someone will have to say to remove an inconvenient tree is that a limb is hazardous, Infested etc. instead of enforcing remediation.

  10. Would love to hear what a tree warden will say about the largest clear cutting of trees to happen in Westport in a long time……Baron’s South. The hypocrisy which is being shown here is breathtaking.

    • Don’t forget the clearing of Jessup Green trees for a new Westport Arts Center.

      • Yes, let’s talk about Jesup Green ….we will just call it “the Jesup” in the future because there will be no Green left. Is the idea that they will build a LEED CERTIFIED building (read: green, environmentally conscientious) but in doing so remove all the “green” from the Jesup Green ??!! I guess that works them. The residents will be sorry to lose the little open public space they have.

        • Dan, will you please write a blog column on the proposed move of the WAC (non-profit not run by town of Wspt) to Jesup Green? This is the last downtown green space, and so many events take place on this green (WITH the beautiful huge trees): Bon Odori Japanese dance festival (with public joining in), library Book Fair in tents, children running and people reading on grass in warm months, bonfire for First Night, and many other events (even fancy dinners in tents for non-profit galas)! The press release (from WAC?) immediately proclaimed that town officials were enthusiastic? Isn’t the RTM going to question this idea and why our TOWN owned property should allow a 10,000 foot building to be constructed (3 times the current WAC home on Riverside) on our own Jesup Green? I’m really curious that it’s been presented as a fait accompli. Thanks.

  11. And let’s not be upset when the two old trees at the corner of Post Road and Cedar (where Brooks Cafe was, the trees with the yellow caution tape) get cut down because the future owner wants to have better Post Road access and turnaround capability. The new owner will cite that the trees block line of site and are a hazard. And before you know it …!!.. they will gone..UNLESS we speak up now.

    • Who actually CARES about trees? I’d rather have another successful business operation that is paying taxes and increasing cash flow in our town.

      • That’s what I am talking about!

      • Trees provide oxygen to us,the gas that is essential because we cannot breathe any other gas except Oxygen. Trees purify the air and mitigate environmental pollution.Trees have roots which hold the soil and prevent soil erosion, In coastal areas like ours, they also help prevent flooding. Trees proudly proclaim the iconic beauty of New England.

        Trees provides homes for animals and birds. Birds have their nests in trees and trees provide animals and humans a place to protect themselves from sun, decreasing energy costs even within the buildings they shelter. But of course you are right, what could be more important than increasing tax flow?

        • My anonymous friend, I was being somewhat felicitous. Though I do legitimately believe a new business in town is more beneficial than “two old trees.” Sorry

          • environment vrs economy….I believe the economy will survive just fine.. a little less money for us..oh well… we need to protect our environment or we will suffer more as we are seeing with extreme weather here… I wanted a tree removed but then saw the life of the animals using it.. I delight in watching them…

            • Your example cannot compare to what Frank is saying. The success of a business is not contingent upon you removing the tree. Get it?

              There’s always gotta be a healthy balance. But in this economy, which is barely hanging on, taxpayers cannot afford to give new business and money the cold shoulder. Unless you’re one of the few who is not phased by taxes going up.

      • Why do you want more business with more taxes ? The town only spends more (by increasing their spedning budget this year !!) rather than saving for a rainy day when interest rates go up and they cannot afford to float a bond offering anymore. Then interest rates (hence interest expense) will be higher than the town can afford and because they didn’t CUT spending or SAVE their excess tax revenue they will have to raise taxes AGAIN !!.

  12. Only whiners care about trees and traffic. Get with it or get of the way.

    • All can ignore the above irrelevant comment as it has no thought process involved..must be from Slytherin.

  13. I remember meeting Loren for the first time. I was planting 3 trees along a Westport street. I was told they needed to okayed by the tree warden. He was a great guy. He told me that 2 were fine but 1 needed to be changed. He showed me why a crotch that was going to be a future problem and I agreed. Now when I select trees I think of the future.

  14. Mr Boten, did you mean felicitous or were you meaning to use the word facetious? Just asking.