Alert “06880” reader — and Greens Farms Association president — Art Schoeller writes:
Not one, not two, but all the trees lining the Post Road in front of Stop & Shop are headed for the chipper.
Surprised? So was the board of directors of the Greens Farms Association after listening to Westport Tree Board member Dick Stein at our last monthly meeting.
He shared large-scale aerial drawings of the Connecticut Department of Transportation safety improvements for the Post Road (click here for details). The shocker was his commentary and insight exposing details of tree removal not covered by state officials.
Dick shared that the proposed safety improvements and addition of a sidewalk require taking away some of the grass strip, and relocating the utility poles closer to the Stop & Shop parking lot. The poles would then be too close to the trees, so they would have to be removed.
Twelve sycamores and 1 elm tree would be affected. (Looking more closely at the State presentation, 12 trees would be cut down and the one remaining on the west end of the parking lot might be saved.) Dick believes these trees were planted as part of the “Greening of the Post Road” which began in 1972, making them nearly 50 years old. The trees are 70 to 90 feet tall.
There could also be tree loss across the street, on the Bulkley Avenue portion of the project.
Aside from the obvious environmental advantages, these trees provide an aesthetic benefit of scale, softening of the area, and noise reduction.
Installing underground utility service during the road excavation and construction might allow the trees to remain intact.
At this point the state has not offered to replace any trees. Small trees such as dogwoods, flowering cherry and hawthorn would be permitted under Planning & Zoning Commission regulations.
The proposed project start date is spring of 2021, with completion estimated for fall of 2023. There are safety benefits to this project, including sidewalks which do not currently exist.
Other areas of road improvement will be on the Post Road in front of Fresh Market, and the Hillspoint Road and Roseville Road intersection. Both locations will probably result in the loss of additional trees as well.
The state Department of Transportation has already closed the period for public comment. They have been unresponsive to requests to reopen them, and hold an additional meeting.
We ask concerned Westporters to contact town officials and state representatives to get this issue back into a public forum for comment and debate.
Is the answer to bury the utilities, or some other redesign that takes less expansion of the Post Road? Let’s have that debate, and find a way to save these trees!