Marpe Makes It Official: Longshore Trees Must Go

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.

Longshore trees tagged for removal along the entrance road.

Longshore trees tagged for removal along the entrance road.

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.

8 responses to “Marpe Makes It Official: Longshore Trees Must Go

  1. First Selectman Marpe’s public tree action plan seems thoughtful. Plainly, a proper urban forest management program is critically needed here and the idea of a fund for the planting of public trees sounds great – I would be pleased to contribute to it and I know plenty of other Westporters would too. I still like the notion of repurposing select public trees that have fallen or have been removed. Perhaps revenue from selling the resultant lumber could be directed to a revolving fund for tree replacement.

  2. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    A very good, sound, plan.

  3. Wendy Crowther

    Several people who have commented on this blog in the past regarding the Longshore trees have suggested ways in which the wood from these trees might be re-purposed for furniture, benches, crafts, etc. I’d like to know whether any of these suggested uses will be explored by the town (or the wood offered to those who expressed interest in using it for these purposes).

  4. Jerry MacDaid

    Maybe the town can be like Yale and turn the trees into Westport Bowls or Pens. I’m sure all golfers would be interested as a momento of Longshore. Probably Westport tree lovers and former residents as well.

  5. Charlie Haberstroh

    Thanks to Steve Axthelm, a Commissioner on the Parks and Rec Commission, Pam Klomberg, who is the Chair of the Westport Tree Board and Stuart McCarthy, Director of the Parks and Rec Dept., it looks like we will be able to repurpose at least part of the trees which will come down shortly. Stuart and Andy Knapp whose firm has been contracted by the Town have agreed to save a 20 foot section of the best tree trunk, as well as at least five or six clear cuts which will be used for historical purposes or possibly tables in the park system. This will be done at little or no additional cost.

    Steve has seen clear cuts used in the schools with students as a method to teach local history. He can elaborate if he wishes. Unfortunately I am told that none of the wood from these trees is useful for cabinetry or woodworking.

    Jim Marpe is fully supportive of this effort.

    Separately, I will propose to the Commission a policy that the Parks and Rec. Department plant two trees for every one that is cut down in the park system. I expect that the PRD will work with Bruce Lindsay, the Town’s new and very competent Tree Warden, the Tree Board and the Town’s Beautification Committee to ensure that the trees to be planted will be appropriate for the location.

    Charlie Haberstroh
    Westport Parks and Rec. Commission

  6. Thanks Charlie for updating us on the tree re-purposing plan. And thanks to Pam Klomberg, Steve Axthelm and Stew McCarthy for their efforts in this regard. I’m glad that while the trees in this particular instance evidently do not possess value for woodworking, at least the thought exercise occurred. Perhaps down the line we might be able to enact a small program – as part of a broader environmental stewardship endeavor – that diverts select public trees that have fallen or have been cut down for milling into rough-cut lumber. In addition to simply reducing our town’s waste footprint and generating revenue, the program might help promote a broader awareness of arborculture in general, and the importance of a proper urban forest management system in particular.

  7. There’s nothing wrong enough for those trees to come down. Liability is a lame excuse.

  8. Tree “Warden”? We’re paying taxes for that? Lookout! Don’t be poaching Maples in The Park!!