That Was Quick

Last Thursday, Bedford Square Associates took ownership of the former Westport Y. The complex — including the 1923 Tudor building — will be transformed into a retail, restaurant and residential center.

Today, the iconic Kwanzan cherry trees in front of the Bedford building were chopped down.

YMCA trees

All that’s left are memories.

YMCA in spring


41 responses to “That Was Quick

  1. Why’d they do that?

  2. Oh my Gosh! That is so sad! Such a Beautiful living tree!

  3. Audrey Hertzel

    Wow, that’s sad.

  4. Ah, progress.

  5. Oh! Noooooo!

  6. January Stewart

    NOOOO!!!!! Those beautiful trees. Why did they have to go? Might have to read The Lorax to the kids tonight as a tribute to those beautiful trees.

  7. This makes me sad and reminds me to enjoy those precious things while we have them. I hope they are replaced with something as lovely – but that’s nearly impossible.

  8. One of my favorite spring scenes in Westport. What a shame.

  9. Why am I not surprised?

  10. Sad!

  11. Tragic. A more thoughtful developer would have included them in the new building plans.

    • Tragic??!! Are you serious? Tragic is when an entire village succumbs to Ebola. I can’t even believe the stupidity of these comments.

  12. This is not a surprise. “Rip, Y” gave plenty of warning.

  13. David Waldman: Care to comment?

  14. Where was the Tree Warden?? Is nothing of beauty to spared by the developers?

  15. Sharon Paulsen

    Wow, I spent many a year enjoying those trees from the view across the street, while working for Mickey Herbst at Quick Copy! (that is, before we moved the digs to The Mill Building on Richmondville).
    Too bad construction crews couldn’t have somehow managed to work around those trees, but I suppose it just wasn’t practical??
    I’m bummed.

  16. Michael Calise

    They would have transplanted them to the Gunn house site for another ……….

  17. Knew it was coming, still makes me feel like I’m going to lose my lunch. They were spectacular. But very close to the building, and with pipes and all… It was inevitable. Still hurts!

  18. This is a direct quote from the official website:
    “…..will repurpose two iconic and historic buildings to serve as a gateway to the downtown area, and its community gathering spaces, public courtyards, and TREE LINED SIDEWALKS WILL ADD TO THE VITALITY OF DOWNTOWN.”
    ….just not these particularly beautiful trees and sidewalk I guess. Sad.

  19. Uh, I thought the Bedford building was going to have the same “streetscape” but be changed inside for shops, etc. If that’s true, why did the trees on the sidewalk have to be demolished? Yikes, I just went to to see what it’s going to look like. Nope, nothing like the old Y.

  20. What a shame! They were so beautiful. Worth a bit of effort to include them in the new, but I guess not to the developers. *sigh*

  21. This is truly an OUTRAGE! Those trees could have easily been moved to an alternate location. They could have been donated to the beach or moved to the bridge or the train station or a house of worship. They could have been moved somewhere else where we would continue to appreciate them!

    The Westport community needs to PROTECT it’s beautiful and healthy trees! This is what makes Westport BEAUTIFUL and special!
    * Healthy trees over 150 years old should be protected!
    * Trees that are part of the public view- trees near Main street, Longshore, Compo Beach, Townhall, Jesup Green, etc, etc.


    REALTORS, where are you in uniting together? It’s those trees that beckon people to this town! THIS IS REVOLTING!

    Where is the developer? What is your landscaping plan, what are you going to replace those trees with? Are you even going to make a bench with them?

  22. Russell Gontar

    Reminds me of an old Pretenders tune:

    I went back to Ohio
    But my pretty countryside
    Had been paved down the middle
    By a government that had no pride
    The farms of Ohio
    Had been replaced by shopping malls
    And Muzak filled the air
    From Seneca to Cuyahoga falls
    A, O, way to go Ohio…

  23. This is so sad. It is just like this R Crumb cartoon. Is this truly progress?

  24. Sally Campbell Palmer


  25. Nancy Lee Munley

    OHHH NOOO! That was such a beautiful tree in the spring!!!!!! Even if it is replaced it will take decades to grow. So sad and frusterating!

  26. On an aesthetic note, I concur with the expressions of sadness above. However, and this took me by surprise when I read it (in the NY Times Magazine), in the late 19th century, 30% of New England was forested. Now, we are up to 80%. When you think about it, though for sure we have cut down many a tree to make room for a house, we no longer depend on wood for fuel, hence our forests have had a chance to grow back (along with the deer population and other inhabitants). Yes, population growth will continue to force additional deforestation, but, if you are looking for a bright side to cling to in the meantime, there you go.

  27. This is the content of the email that I sent to Mr. Bradley and the commission in June of 2013. I would welcome all the other posters to share the letters and emails sent during the public comment period on this development.

    The purpose of this email is to place in the public record my concern, as a Westport resident and property owner for 37 years, my dismay at the lack of concern for the preservation of trees when presented with development plans within our commercial districts. You have before you plans for Bedford Square that eliminates mature trees on Church Lane.
    My personal investigation of the loss of the two 35 year old Sycamore Trees (application #11-054) shows no discussion in the public record of the Commission evaluating the loss of these magnificent trees. It is incumbent on the members of the Commission to make sure that preservation of our older trees be a priority. Replacement landscaping with grasses and small trees that won’t reach maturity until most adult residents have passed is simply not acceptable. Commercial owners who have the privilege of living and developing one of the most desirable downtown locations in the northeast should accommodate the retention of their town’s living history.
    It is my hope that the Commission will not approve this project and just let “staff” decide at a later date what would be acceptable landscaping as recently happened with app. #11-054. As many of these mature trees as possible must be retained. Sincerely, Judy James, REALTOR!

    • There was most definitely discussion on the record (at P&Z meetings) regarding the loss of the trees near the Gunn house as well as those trees near the front entrance of the Y billowing. By the way, at that point the ZBA had already given this site a variance from the landscape buffer required by our regulations, meaning the developer was relieved from the obligation to plant a buffer strip between the building edge and the sidewalk. We (the Commission) did try to urge the planting of more trees along Elm Street and the preservation of existing trees, but our hands were somewhat tied at that point as the landscaping requirement had been lifted.

  28. Who owns the trees? Are they town owned? Are you suggesting that the town of Westport owns every tree in Westport? For whom do you speak?

  29. I also submitted a comment in June 2013 to the P&Z that read in part:

    “I am writing to the Planning and Zoning Commission to comment on the permit application for 0 Church Lane (the Bedford Square Project). I am opposed to the project as currently proposed for the following reasons:

    1. The project calls for the unnecessary removal of mature trees, specifically, the beautiful mature flowering cherry trees that currently flank the entrance to the old YMCA building, and calls for their replacement with hardscape and a few inappropriate grasses and plantings that are not in character with the historic nature and style of the building. Any approval for this project must require the preservation and maintenance of the cherry trees and other period appropriate plantings that are already in place in front of the old YMCA.

    2. The project calls for the removal of 100+ year old sugar maples in front of the Gunn Property and several other very mature trees along Church Lane without requiring any replacement of equivalent shade trees throughout the project. The one tree called for in the center plaza is an entirely inadequate replacement for the many large, mature trees that will be destroyed. …”

    Unfortunately, I don’t think many people voiced concern at that time. The loss of those cherry trees is heartbreaking. Their blossoms were magnificent and one of the prettiest things in town. I also personally loved the Boston Ivy covering the building and the many birds that inhabited it and made such a happy commotion in the mornings and evenings fluttering in and out of it, but that is gone now too.

  30. Another careless exercise in destroying the beautify of downtown Westport; it is another indication of our Main Street becoming an outdoor mall, rather than keeping in the true spirit of the town that a majority of the residents would probably prefer.

    • There are times that justify the caption “That was then, this is now”, and this is one of them.
      Since 2013, Westport has contracted with a new Tree Warden, who is managing to educate municipal officials and members of the public regarding the Town’s authority and responsibilities faster than Johnny Appleseed planted apple trees.
      Moreover, he has been integral in a tree planting campaign the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Greening of The Post Road campaign in the 1960’s.
      Additionally, thanks largely to the efforts of our Tree Board, significant trees in our community are being located, identified and memorialized. (See the Connecticut Notable Trees website for a look at the inventory.)
      Yes, it’s sad to lose specimen cherry trees that represent a big part of our present history. But those cherry trees replaced ancient elms that once graced the YMCA’s Main Street entrance, and their removal was also mourned by the residents of that era.
      Trees! A renewable resource!

  31. What a shame…

  32. Thomas orofino

    Another slice of Westport gone!sad event in the name of real estate developers who actually live in Westport. Westport citizens SPEAK UP pay attention to what’s happening in our town. Wake up, what happening with the Compo Beach ” renovation”! Watch out or another slice of Westport will be gone, caput, disappeared, stolen from us all.

  33. Eric Buchroeder SHS '70

    If my SHS German from teacher Hans Johnson serves me correctly (and I never was much good at it) Waldman translates to: “person of the woods/forest” How ironic. Mr. Waldman!!!! Either change your name or don’t cut down those trees!!!!

  34. Eric Buchroeder SHS '70

    I know, I know, the horse is already out of the barn.