Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe released this statement today:
After reviewing Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay’s report and his recommendation to remove the remaining original 15 trees, and after participating in the public on-site information session with a number of citizens and RTM members, I have advised Mr. Lindsay and Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy to proceed with their recommendation.
This recommendation was an extremely difficult one to make given the age and size of the trees, as well as their iconic presence at Longshore. I would like to thank all those who attended Saturday’s information session and who helped me with my decision.
Mr. Lindsay has made it clear that, among other things, there is a safety issue which the town cannot ignore and which requires the removal of these trees. Most of the larger trees along the entrance drive have already come down over the years and, as stated during the information session, the removal of the additional trees reflects the final stage of a landscape plan which has been in place for over 20 years. Fortunately, the town had the foresight to start the tree replacement process many years ago.
I am fully aware that the entrance to Longshore Park presents one of the more scenic views in Westport. There are many newer trees along the entrance which are doing well and I believe that as these new trees continue to mature, they will preserve that familiar majestic look. The removal of the trees presents us with an opportunity to plan for the future. Many helpful suggestions to address the planting, care and maintenance of trees within Longshore Park and on other town owned property in general have come out of our recent discussions. With those suggestions in mind, I will:
1) Consult with the Parks and Recreation Commission and staff to ensure that a sufficient number of trees are planted to replace those that are being removed. (In this regard, Charlie Haberstroh, Chairman of the Parks & Recreation Commission, will propose to the Commission that two trees be planted for each one that is removed within the Park);
2) Seek recommendations from the Tree Warden and the Tree Board on how to adopt a program of tree preservation in town which balances aesthetics with safety; and
3) Look into establishing a fund to which citizens may contribute for the purpose of purchasing trees to be planted on town property.
I remain committed to ensuring that Longshore will continue to be of great pride to Westport residents today and for many generations to come.