Prospect Road Trees: Late Afternoon Report

As a chainsaw roared several yards away, Santa Claus sat in a swing, suspended from a tree branch.

That was the scene this afternoon on Prospect Road. A crew hired by contractor Joe Feinleib cut down the 2nd and 3rd of 5 oak trees in the setback near the property of next door neighbor Mark Donovan (aka Santa). Feinleib will build a new home on the land he’s clearing.

“I’m not going anywhere,” vowed Donovan, whose swing hangs from a branch on a near-100-year-old oak tree that hangs over his property.

“I’m not saying he’s not within his rights,” Donovan added, referring to his soon-to-be-new neighbor. “But I’m within my rights too. We’re 2 Americans, exercising our rights.”

One of the felled oak trees. According to owner Joe Feinleib, the rings show the stand of trees to be 96 years old.

Owner Joe Feinleib sent this photo to “06880.” “Turns out at least one is diseased and rotting in the middle,” he wrote..

Police were on hand earlier today. Feinleib had concerns about a news media drone flying over his property. Donovan had concerns about a bucket with tree workers over his property.

Westport police officers chat with Mark Donovan (dressed as Santa), sitting on a swing. The tree is on Joe Feinleib’s property; the branch hangs over Donovan’s.

Joe Feinleib’s property on the left, with trees being removed. Mark Donovan’s is on the right.


12 responses to “Prospect Road Trees: Late Afternoon Report

  1. Cristina Negrin

    There should have could have been a cease and dissest? It’s a sad story heard too many times this should stop. When we moved to westport it was because of the trees and the woods all around

  2. “We’re two Americans exercising our rights.”

    Correct, Joe is exercising his right to despoil the environment as Americans with money have done for 400 years. Mark Donovan is exercising his right to point out that times have changed but Joe is having none of it.

    Since it’s for his own home, you’d think Joe would be more amenable to his new neighbor. Apparently not.

    Will Mark help if there’s some calamity next door in two years? I’m sure he will. But everyone would understand if he just didn’t bother.

  3. Bill Strittmatter

    From these pictures, it sort of looks like the Donovan property is clear cut to the lot line. It is certainly sad to see old trees cut down but not sure why his neighbor (developer or otherwise) has to do something he (or whoever developed his lot) chose not to to with his property.

    Sort of like the Pequot Trail discussion. A lot of folks that had clear cut to their own property lines suddenly upset that the buffer provided by the neighbors was suddenly going away “disturbing their privacy”.

  4. Bill Boyd... Staples 1966

    Westport has always attracted a minority of people focused on money not aesthetics… And each year it just descends into a darker “lack of class.” I’m glad I live ten miles away and never go there any more.

  5. Jacque O'Brien

    Bill S, you’re assuming one picture says it all. When my husband Bill and I drove over to see what was happening at the Donovan’s on Prospect Road, we noted not only their beautiful historic home, but also the landscaping and trees that grew on their property. What has happened next door to them is a travesty and should never have been allowed to happen! I know nothing about the builder but am saddened that he felt it necessary to remove all of those beautiful oaks. I know he was concerned about “limbs falling on his house or children”, but I wonder if he’s thought about the fact that one day his heirs might have trouble breathing because builders have cut down the plants that provide our oxygen. By the way, the stumps that we saw left, were all solid as can be!

  6. Back in the mid 1980’s my then little neighborhood on Cottage Lane (dead end street off Maple Ave South) woke up on the Monday after Thanksgiving to find that a developer building out the Regents Park condominiums had built an exit out the back of the condo’s onto Cottage Lane via 2 undeveloped lots. The neighbors formed a blockade with our cars to stop the heavy equipment. The police came. Our actions alerted the town building officials and we were able to preserve our neighborhood and the private road. Sometimes you need to make a little fuss to get some attention and foster some change. Ultimately 2 homes were built at the end of Cottage Lane and the private dead end street was preserved.

  7. Catherine Talmadge

    I know this will not be a popular position and I need to preface this with the fact that I am an avid environmentalist, gardener and I care desperately about trees and habitat and am adamantly against clearcutting in general. However, I have been watching this battle over the past three days and have gone by the site to see what’s happenings myself. I have also spoken to Joe Feinlieb the developer who I feel at this point is being unfairly maligned.
    There are a number of facts that are not coming out. Joe brought in three separate arborists that all concluded the trees had not been cared for over the years that for their size they should have been culled years ago to let a smaller number flourish and that they were unsafe. There is proof of that fact with in the photo of the rotten trunk. I asked who the arborists were and one was mine who is incredibly knowledgeable and was familiar with one of the other two. Additionally, contrary to the reports Joe has kept a beautiful oak in the Northeast corner of the property and has had it pruned and fertilized to improve its health.
    Furthermore, I live directly behind the old Geiger property that Joe developed 5 or so years ago and we thank our lucky stars every day that we drive by that he was the developer who finally bought that property. Over the years there were numerous horrible developments proposed for the site that luckily did not go through. When Joe bought the property, he came to us to discuss what he could do that would make us support the development. We said underground parking and lots of greenspace. The knee jerk was underground parking was too expensive but they went and explored that option and determined because of the topography that it made sense. They worked with us and our neighbors to put in landscaping that we approved and they built what I consider to be a beautiful development. They signed a contract with is that is on the tax file that it will be maintained in perpetuity. They consulted with us on locations of equipment and even windows. Joe’s aesthetic is incredible and the landscaping that they put in is beautiful and in line with the guidelines for the pollinator pathway using native plants and pollinators. He spends $40,000-$50,000 a year to maintain the landscaping.
    I believe that what we need to do at this point is support/demand that P&Z address the issue of clearcutting in general and I am told they will begin addressing it in January. Please follow their conversation and attend their meetings and help to put rules in place to begin to alleviate the situation.

  8. Peter Gambaccini

    Not for nothing, but places like Fairfield, New Canaan, and Silvermine, and I’d bet Wilton, just don’t let this kind of thing happen.

    • I guess you missed the recent Fairfield story…where a developer chopped down some trees in the middle of town… I’d say Fairfield has fallen to developers, and westport is pretty much right behind, if not there. Sad sight for our towns

      • The trees that were “chopped down” were replaced by a large patio with beautiful landscaping and a few trees. There have been a number of teardowns in Fairfield, but nothing like what has happened in Westport. And Fairfield is having the same problems with the Affordable Housing debacle.

  9. Moved to 32 Prospect Rd in 1960(across from the Goldens & Doigs & near Debby King. A year or two later the dreaded Dutch elm disease struck resulting in the death of 6 majestic trees which had graced the front of our property for God knows how many decades. Such a stunningly sad loss. I’m all for preserving trees to the very best of our ability. Steve Emmett

  10. Connected readers of this space may know that Westport has an under-utilized tree board, whose mission is to advise the town on proper arborial management, removal and replacement Let’s engage this appointed panel to full use