Saving Compo Acres’ Sycamore

Equity One has been pilloried for its excavation work behind Compo Acres Shopping Center. More trees than allowed by permit were demolished to create a level parking lot. The result: more asphalt, and less privacy for neighbors.

But around the corner, the owner is working to save one tree.

Equity One representative Michael Lai told “06880” reader and town activist Morley Boyd that the company considers a massive sycamore — located near the confusing entrances/exit on South Compo and the Post Road — to be a “defining aspect” of the property. Lai said that Equity One takes its stewardship seriously.

Wendy Crowther's before-and-after photos show the "mulch volcano" (left), and the mulch pulled back (right).

Wendy Crowther’s before-and-after photos show the “mulch volcano” (left), and a close-up of the mulch pulled back (right).

Boyd and others were concerned about  a “mulch volcano”: the tree-killing layer that was mounded against the trunk, above the natural flare at its base. It arose because untrained landscapers did not realize the tree could suffocate to death.

Equity One hired Bartlett Tree Experts to complete a thorough treatment protocol for the sycamore. It includes feeding, and careful removal of the mulch volcano. Work began over the holiday weekend.

So all is well — except for some bark damage:

Sycamore - tree damage

Turns out that Lai saw a woman install an advertising sign for a fitness center on the southern face of the tree. He asked her to leave. He did not know it, but damage had already been done.

A portion of bark spawled off. More came down over the next couple of days. Unfortunately, Lai did not get a look at the name of the business.

Fortunately, the bark should mend in time.

Now, if Equity One could only restore the iconic “paint palette” that stood for decades next to the sycamore. It’s been missing for more than a year.

The Compo Acres paint palette is gone.

The Compo Acres paint palette is gone.


8 responses to “Saving Compo Acres’ Sycamore

  1. Great tree Morley. Buttonwood. Another great example is just down the street on North Compo. The far corner of Winslow Park.

  2. Thanks for the story Dan, and thank you Equity One for stepping up.

    The company’s quick response to this matter raises a question in my mind and I’d like to address it to First Selectman Marpe:

    Jim, have you seen the tree volcanoes at Staples High School?

    How about the Senior Center?

    We are talking about hundreds of trees and I don’t know how much in taxpayer dollars – at risk. It gets worse: the individuals responsible for this mismanagement of town resources have known, for years, that what they are doing is going to end badly. That’s right, they’ve been told repeatedly by the Tree Board, the Tree Warden and other experts. And yet. This isn’t ignorance we’re talking about. It’s indifference.

    The issue of maintenance in this town – whether it’s abandoned multi-million dollar buildings in Baron’s South or the Education Department’s ongoing use of unqualified and totally unlicensed arborists – is, at times, a real disappointment.

    I well appreciate that you inherited this mess and by now it must seem as if you preside over a vast nursery of sobbing children. Nevertheless, this is one problem that, right now, is totally solvable and will avoid considerable expense to us taxpayers. Since their paychecks may be the only renewable resource they care about, I have to believe a call from your Operations Manager to the heads of the above mentioned departments would make a positive difference.

  3. Way to go Morley! It’s a shame to see newly planted trees neglected. Protecting them from rutting deer is easy to do. Water them thru the 1st and maybe 2nd summer. Plant them high they’ll never die. Plant them low they’ll never grow.

  4. Thanks Brad, the frustrating thing is that there’s actually so much going right in Westport in terms of updated planting protocols for P&Z (thank you, Tree Warden), increased funding for tree maintenance (thank you, Pam Klomberg) , new street trees (as we speak, on that nasty little divider on Jessup) and a really engaged and energized Tree Board that is working on a host of outreach initiatives and is just hitting its stride. Lets hope that Parks and Rec and the Education Dept will at last be willing to quit wasting our resources and revise their outdated practices and RFPs.

  5. Government rarely gets it right. Breaks my heart when I walk my goldens thru Winslow Park. That property could be spectacular for a small investment.

  6. Great news!!

  7. Morley,

    Thanks for mentioning the work that is going on to address all these issues. As you know, the issue is not only maintenance, it’s also the practices of Conn DOT, and the total disregard by some (not all) developers for keeping notable trees. The landscape subcommittee of the P&Z along with the Tree Warden/Tree Commission / Beautification Committee / Flood and Erosion /Conservation and Parks and Rec met a few weeks ago to address the tree issues. We agreed that P&Z could best assist by updating our regs. We are in a preliminary draft stage of doing so with the tree warden. I anticipate a subcommittee meeting either right before the holidays or shortly thereafter. Kudos to Compo Acres for getting this one issue right.

    Back to your point of maintenance , I totally agree with you.. I’ll go one step further and say that a few SOP’s regarding tree paintings/maintenance would go a long way.

    Cathy Walsh

  8. Thanks Cathy, that sounds like promising P&Z news. I sure appreciate you guys doing that. I just wish there would be some accountability for what our own people do to the stuff we own. I know I said it looks like indifference, but in truth it’s almost to the point of being passive aggressive.