Filling In An Earth Day Puzzle

Happy Earth Day (again)!

My post today earlier today about living shorelines” may have made you feel all warm and earth-fuzzy. You might even be motivated to take a walk at some open space in town.

Great! Just avoid part of Baron’s South.

Alert “06880” reader/local activist Morley Boyd recently noticed that 1,000 or so yards of construction material — from the recent Senior Center modernization project — have been dumped in the southwest meadow.

Morley Boyd took this photo — and outlined the approximate footprint of the excavated fill at Baron’s South.

It includes, he says, both fill and demolition debris: rusty pipes, sharp metal objects, chunks of concrete and asphalt, plastic garbage bags, shattered plastic containers, rubber tires, bricks and more.

Morley says that trapped, standing water at the rear of the dump area abuts residential property. He sees “considerable evidence” of soil erosion across the top section of raw, unprotected construction rubble and fill.

Debris in the Baron’s South landfill. The Senior Center is on the right. (Photos/Morley Boyd)

He also believes that a number of mature trees were removed from the site, to accommodate what he says is a grade raised by 5 or 6 feet.


Morley wonders why the material was placed there, whether it has been tested, when it will be removed, and where it will go. He has written to town officials, and awaits a response.

16 responses to “Filling In An Earth Day Puzzle

  1. Robert Mitchell

    In April 2016, the Town voted $75,000 requested by Parks and Rec to clean up Baron’s South, to make it a more inviting and accessible open space. One step forward; two steps back.

  2. Lisa Podurgiel

    This is truly sickening to see. How can town officials allow this to happen, and what kind of an example does it set if our own leaders do not respect and protect our precious open space and parks? Thank you, Morley and Dan, for making us aware of this egregious misuse of town-owned land. I trust that town officials will act swiftly to get this cleaned up before more harm is done, and take the necessary steps to prevent similar bad behavior from happening in the future. I look forward to hearing their response.

  3. Cristina Negrin

    Not only cleaned up but heavily fined

  4. As might be expected, the silt laden water from all the recent rain is running off the new landfill and down the paved access road to Imperial Avenue where it enters a drain basin which leads directly to Dead Mans Brook just before it flows into the Saugatuck River. The disappointing thing is that this formerly bucolic site, once dotted with towering, mature trees had been talked about as a pollinator meadow complete with walking paths for visitors. We’re, I think, the only town in the state with a beautiful wooded campus at its center. Yet we keep doing things which have the practical effect of degrading this precious asset. It’s dispiriting.

    • John F. Suggs

      If this was private property such illegal landfill runoff into the Saugatuck River would be promptly investigated and stopped. Since this is town owned property will those same rules apply?

  5. Werner Liepolt

    Not the kickoff to the Year of the Pollinator one would have expected!

  6. Tina Torraco

    How does one get to use town property as a landfill anyway ? This is not what you expected to read about on Earth Day but it speaks volumes about those who committed this violation to nature and those who stand by and allow it. Pollinator Pathway or Pollution Pathway , I sure hope it’s not the latter.

  7. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    This is a very sad situation. NO! It is a travesty. I worry first about the run off into Dead Man’s brook and then the Saugatuck. Landfill running into Dead Man’s first..Way back Dead Man’s Brook never flooded. Then the Saugatuck Congregational church changed it’s parking lot and the over flow began. The pollution factor needs to be addressed immediately. Posts like this one make me wish I still lived there and could be an active voice for change.

  8. Michael Calise

    A private property owner would have to produce a class A-2 survey, hire an engineer to produce a proposed a site plan. get a sign off from the health district, get a sign off from public works. and finally conservation. may have to appear before conservation and the flood and erosion control board before applying for a zoning permit and appearing before the P&Z for site plan approval. Thousands of dollars and months later if approvals are obtained they could move forward under very strict guidelines and a final site plan survey. (all appropriately in the process of good land management) When it comes to municipal activities these un-approved and arrogant activities are conducted without forethought including at Longshore and Compo Beach as well and regularly ignored.

  9. Wendy Crowther

    Early this winter I walked in Baron’s South and first noticed this fill looming above the newly installed Senior Center cul-de-sac. I was in disbelief because about 2-3 years ago, I had been part of a conversation with the Parks & Rec Director about this particular part of Baron’s South. Those present agreed that it had excellent potential for becoming a pollinator meadow complete with a simple path that could be easily accessed by the public as well as Senior Center visitors. This plan was to be coordinated with the Senior Center expansion project.

    Today…forget about it. The grade from the cul-de-sac to the top of this fill pile is so steep that most patrons will have trouble negotiating it, especially those with mobility challenges. This former meadow no longer presents any useful potential for a recreational walker, a nature observer or a pollinating insect.

    About a month ago, I inquired about this disappointing situation by speaking with a town employee who was under the impression that this fill was being stored there temporarily and was due to be removed. However, about two weeks ago I revisited the area and saw that grass planting-mats had been newly installed on the steepest portions near the cul-de-sac (you can see them in the above photo). My guess is that this was an attempt to stabilize the run-off. It also indicated to me that there was no plan to remove this fill.

    I might also mention that this is the second time this meadow has been ravaged. The first time it occurred was when the Westport Center for Senior Activities was originally built. Excavation fill was stored in this same place in a huge mound and it remained there long after the Center was completed. The mound nearly obliterated a lovely magnolia tree that the Baron had once planted there. Eventually, the fill was removed. The magnolia didn’t make it.

    The Baron’s gorgeous landscape, now Westport’s Central Park, has once again endured another blow – perhaps this time an illegal one.

  10. like removal of the osprey nest, I don’t know why anyone would be dumb enough to dump like this in Westport, you guys are so on top of these things (love WSPT for that) there, (I’m guessing it will be cleaned up and mea culpas issued within 4 hours, but I hope Dan posts names of who did this so that other towns know to be as vigilant).

  11. Thank goodness for Morley Boyd and Dan Woog.

    This is disgraceful. What members of town leadership knew about this or approved of it? What are they going to do about it? When?

  12. don l bergmann

    I assume that someone within our Town will address this issue by adding a comment to this blog. As one who followed many aspects of the Senior Center expansion, this does not appear consistent with the desires and intentions of all involved. The permitting requirement and adherence would almost surely be easily to document, including if anything was undertaken not in conformity to our permitting regulations or in violation of a permit. I will await an official response before I make a final judgment.
    Don Bergmann

  13. Pam Klomberg

    As mentioned, this parcel of land is also near the steeply sloped/heavily trafficked Post Road and a school bus depot of some sort which drains off water and pollutants towards Deadmans Creek. Adjacent to this area, across Imperial Avenue, is a FEMA flood zone.

    An environmental review team (soil/geology/ hydrology) opinion several years ago was that the Barons South old-growth forest, meadow, and ancillary vegetation–now unfortunately removed–would be crucial to preserve in order to assist in sequestering water run off–and as an aid to mediate both Creek and Saugutuck River flooding.

    More importantly, this area of tidal water flows towards Long Island Sound. Is it wise to have seepage–from what appears to be a new Barons South landfill–flowing downstream towards Compo Beach where people swim?

    Perhaps another neutral, unbiased, multidisciplinary state environmental review team needs to be convened–not municipal employees, municipal affiliates or developers–to assess this Site and make recommendations for remediation.

    An additional concern is that if a new landfill has been created in Barons South in close proximity to the old town landfill (on which several other municipal buildings already sit) would it be wise to have a neutral, unbiased team of experts assess both the new and old sections of landfill–and the surrounding bodies of water–for current/projected toxicities and remediation.

  14. Fred Roberts

    The town hired AP Construction to manage this project. Same company is currently managing the messy Library job site. Someone had to direct this dirty fill to be placed there. Either the town or AP Construction would be responsible for said direction and should rectify this egregious error.

  15. Joyce Joiner

    There are such gems in Westport where with a little forethought, gentle nurturing, careful planning and less destructive building habits green areas would thrive; wildlife would thrive; and most importantly it would reflect What do we really think is important?