Tag Archives: Westport Tree Board

Ceriales: Tree Warden Needs More Clout

When it comes to cutting down trees, Westporters seem to fall into 2 camps.

One side is opposed. Neighbors and residents want laws, lawsuits — anything to prevent developers from clear-cutting land to build new homes.

The other side counters that private property is just that: private property. If you want to save some trees, they say, then buy the land yourself.

John Ceriale thinks there is a third way.

He has skin in the game. He and his wife Melissa own almost 10 magnificent acres on Prospect Road. They’ve spent 25 years building beautiful gardens and, most recently, a meadow on their land. They’ve created one of Westport’s most gorgeous streetscapes, and they enjoy sharing it with all of us.

Pyramid grasses on Prospect Road. (Photo/Cindy Shumate)

They’ve also watched helplessly as a neighbor behind them clear cut his property. In response, the Ceriales planted 19 trees at the edge of their land to block out a towering new home. That’s not a practical solution for most neighboring.

“I’m not a tree hugger,” John says. “I don’t want to save every tree. Developers and new home buyers do have rights. But clear-cutting land with 60- and 70-year-old trees?

“Let’s talk about deer. They run rampant. No one talks about euthanizing them. Yet we cut these magnificent old trees without a second thought.”

John likens clear-cutting to other projects. “I can’t build a tennis court that would send water onto my neighbor’s property. But clear-cutting can do the same thing. Trees are beautiful. And they also have an environmental and community impact.”

Looking northeast, on the Ceriales’ property. (Photo/Cindy Shumate)

With homes in other parts of the country, John sees how they — and other communities — handle trees. Aspen regulates every tree. The size of every tree that is removed is calculated. Replacements must be planted. In Palm Beach, certain species are catalogued and governed. Permits are required in both places.

In Westport, by contrast, “we look at trees as expendable.”

Part of the problem, he says, is that the tree warden is responsible only for trees on town roads or grounds. He has no control over trees on private property. A Tree Board works with the tree warden, but is similarly restricted to only public land.

John would like to see regulations changed, to give the tree warden more clout. Reiterating the rights of property owners and developers, John says a tree warden and board “can’t be draconian. But no one should be able to strip everything away, either.”

The Prospect Road meadow. Trees and grasses work harmoniously, aesthetically and environmentally. (Photo/Cindy Shumate)

He’d also like to see the tree warden emphasize the important of hardwoods. “Everyone plants maples, because they’re the least expensive. No one is planting oaks, hickories or elms. They’re great trees. We need to encourage that.

“Diversity, as we all know, is hugely important. Just like with the current pandemic, a disease in the maple species will wreak havoc throughout town, with massive impacts.

“We all must think bigger, and with more responsibility for the future of our town and neighbors.”

Westport would be a pioneer in that effort. Most lower Fairfield County towns do not have special tree ordinances, unless wetlands are involved. The only municipality in Connecticut that regulates trees on private property is Hartford (click here).

John and Melissa want to know what “06880” readers think. Click “Comments” below — and send them to OurWestportTrees@gmail.com. They’ll get in touch with you soon.

Roundup: Kids, Trees, Birds …

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The Levitt Pavilion’s Children’s Series continues tomorrow — and every Wednesday, through August 25.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 7, 7 p.m.), Grammy winner Dan Zanes (The Del Fuegos) and Haitian-American jazz vocalist/music therapist Claudia Zanes perform a mix of old and new songs from near and far. Audience members are invited to dance along.

In the wings:

  • The Hall Family (July 14)
  • Divinity Roxx (July 21)
  • Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats (July 28)
  • Hopalong Andrew (August 4)
  • Elena Moon Park & Friends (August 11)
  • The Pop Ups (August 18)
  • Sonia De Los Santos (August 25).

Admission is free, but tickets are required. Click here to register, and for more information.

Dan and Claudia Zanes

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The Earthplace amphitheater is a beautiful spot, nestled in the woods. It’s the perfect place to learn about trees.

So mark July 21 (6:30 p.m.) for a free program there. Earthplace and the Westport Tree Board are sponsoring an outdoor showing of “Call of the Forest: Wisdom of Trees.”

In the video, noted scientist and author Diana Beresford-Kroeger will discuss the profound human connection to ancient and sacred northern forests, and the essential role they play in sustaining the health of our planet.

Admission is free.

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Finding Westport always finds great causes to support.

This “Independence” month, they invite you to show off your patriotism by shopping their collection of unisex tees, camping mugs, sweatshirts, beach towels, stickers, pins and weekly specials.

All say “God Bless Westport … The Land That I Love.” 10% of all sales go to VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399, right here in town. Click here to see, and order.

Camping mug

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Ah, to be young and agile. Seen somersaulting on Soundview Avenue were Branden Acselrod and Adam Cooper.

(Photo/Marc Sheinbaum)

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Today’s “Naturally … Westport” series features Tina Green. She’s been photographing birds in and around town — and she sure knows what’s up.

Here’s her report on our bald eagles:

“The juvenile bald eagles are the Sherwood Island State Park siblings from what I believe is the first documented nest in Westport. An adult pair of bald eagles began working on a nest last fall in the park, and were successful in fledging 2 young. It’s extremely likely the eagles will continue nesting at this location. They will add sticks to the nest each year, and will continue to be seen year round in that area.”

Here are 2 double-crested cormorants. They nest on Goose Island, just west of Cockenoe.

Finally, here’s a marsh wren. Tina says they nest in the cattails and phragmites that surround most of Gorham Island.

(Photos/Tina Green)

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And finally … Van McCoy died of a heart attack on this day in 1979. He was just 39 years old.

He has 700 song copyrights to his credit, and produced songs for artists like Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Stylistics, Aretha Franklin, Brenda & the Tabulations, David Ruffin, Peaches & Herb  and Lesley Gore. But he will be forever known for his Grammy-winning, million-selling, summer-of-1975-defining smash:

Happy Arbor Day! Get A Free Tree!

It’s not exactly Christmas, or the 4th of July.

But Arbor Day is Friday. Westport won’t let the holiday pass unnoticed.

We’re even jumping the gun

From 2-5 p.m. this Thursday (April 25) in front of Town Hall, the Westport Tree Board will distribute lilac and Norway spruce saplings.

It’s first-come, first-served. Planting instructions are on each bag.

It’s a busy day for the Tree Board. At 1 p.m. — an hour before the event — they’ll join 1st Selectman Jim Marpe to unveil a new sign at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (corner of Stonybrook Road and Woodside Avenue).

Guests are invited to stay, walk the trails, and learn about trees on the 12-acre open space property. Then head over to Town Hall for your freebie.

(Thanks to Eversource Energy, for making Thursday’s 6th annual sapling giveaway possible.)

A Norway maple at the Wadsworth Arboretum.

Free Saplings Today And Saturday!

The weather may not scream “outdoors!” But today is Arbor Day — the annual celebration of tree planting.

The Westport Tree Board celebrates today — and Green Day this Saturday — with 2 events.

This afternoon (Wednesday, April 25, 2 to 5 p.m.), saplings will be distributed in front of Town Hall. (The location may shift to the rear, due to Myrtle Avenue construction). They’ll be handed out rain or shine (right now, it looks like rain).

More saplings this Saturday (April 28), in conjunction with festivities at Earthplace. The Tree Board will be at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (2 Woodside Lane), from 10 am to 1 p.m. It’s a chance too to walk the trails, and learn about trees on the 12 acre open space property.

This is the 5th consecutive tree sapling giveaway by Westport tree warden Bruce Lindsay, and the Tree Board. It’s first-come, first-serve basis. Species include sweetgums, sugar maples, lilacs, and Norway and white spruce. All  contain planting, and are provided through a donation by Eversource

A tree grows at Town Hall. Saplings will be given away there today.

Happy GreenDay!

Looking for a way to welcome spring, honor the environment, and do cool, important things with family and friends?

You’re in luck!

GreenDay is this Saturday (April 29). In just 5 years, the event — created by Staples High School’s Club Green — has become a low-key but very fun Westport-wide celebration.

You can choose from:

8:30-10 a.m. Clean-up Greens Farms train station and Riverside Park. Both events are sponsored by the Westport Beautification Committee.

10 a.m. Family Trail Run at Earthplace. Trail run/walk options for all ages and abilities, from a 100-yard dash to 2 miles. Cost: $25 per adult, $15 per child, $75 maximum. Proceeds benefit Earthplace’s community education programs.

10 a.m. Tour Westport’s wastewater treatment plantSee how sewage turns into clean water. Location: 4 Elaine Road, off Compo Road South, between I-95 and the railroad tracks.

11 a.m.-3 p.m. Fun and learning with nature at EarthplaceEarthplace naturalists, Wakeman Town Farm animals, Westport Library storytellers and the new Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum join forces. Experience and explore the natural world through hands-on science activities, and nature arts and crafts. Cost: $5/person.

12-3 p.m. Westport Tree Board gives away native saplings at Earthplace. Members will also direct visitors on tours of the Arboretum, and conduct a free raffle. The winner receives a wooden bench, handmade from black locust wood harvested on the property by Tree Board member Dick Stein.

2 p.m. Rally for the environment at Earthplace. Bring or make your own signs (materials provided), to celebrate science and nature.

3 p.m. Hydroponics at the Westport Library. Watch a hydroponic system being built. Learn how it helps grow a healthy food system.

Get your green on!

(For more GreenDay information, click here.)

Happy Arbor Day!

It’s not exactly Christmas, or the 4th of July.

But Arbor Day is tomorrow. And Westport won’t let the holiday pass unnoticed.

From 2-5 p.m. (Friday, April 29), the Westport Tree Board will (wo)man a table at the new (and very beautiful) Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (corner of Stonybrook Road and Woodside Avenue). Tree warden Bruce Lindsay will hand out seedlings: 200 flowering dogwood, 100 Norway spruce and 100 river birch. Planting instructions are included.

It’s first-come, first-serve. But don’t worry about waiting in line. There’s plenty of shade.

(Thanks to Eversource Energy, for making Friday’s seedling giveaway possible.)

Staples High School students recently helped maintain the trails -- and trees at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum.

Staples High School students recently helped maintain the trails — and trees at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum.

How Green Was My Post Road

Spring is here (in fits and starts). Lawns turn green. Flowers bloom. Trees come alive again, turning Westport into a lush, lovely town at every turn.

Trees define this place. They give permanence to our property. They link us to our past. And they line our roadsides.

Sometimes.

From 1972-76, a major program remade the look of Westport. Thanks to the Westport Woman’s Club — with direction from Eloise Ray and Elaine Rusk — over 300 trees were planted on the Post Road. From the Southport line to Norwalk, those new trees turned our main artery — lined with gas stations, stores, office buildings and parking lots — into something special.

The Post Road near Maple Avenue, in 1976. The KFC was located opposite the Shell gas station (still there) and what is now Athletic Shoe Factory. (Photo/Dan Cronin)

The Post Road near Maple Avenue, in 1976. The KFC was located opposite the Shell gas station (still there) and what is now Athletic Shoe Factory. (Photo/Dan Cronin)

For good reason, the project was called “The Greening of the Post Road.” The town’s Beautification Committee took over annual maintenance of the trees. That work “will probably continue in some form as long as there is a Westport,” a report proclaimed a few years later.

Of course, it’s tough to care for trees that don’t exist.

In the 4 decades since the Post Road was greened, more than 2/3 of those trees have disappeared.

Some died of disease or drought. Others fell to the effects of road salt or car accidents. Some were sacrificed to the needs of utility companies. Others were removed by property owners — during renovations, because they blocked views of stores, or hung over sidewalks, or were too hard to care for. Or for no real reason at all.

As this photo shows, most of the trees near the former Subway restaurant and Sherwood Diner are gone.

As this photo shows, most of the trees near the former Subway restaurant and Sherwood Diner are gone.

A “re-greening project” in 2008 added 100 new trees to the Post Road. Still, only 80 or so trees from both programs survive.

Silver maples have been removed from the Barnes & Noble plaza. A giant sycamore is gone from the old Cedar Brook Cafe. Construction at the new Maserati dealer and Subway are 2 more recent examples where trees no longer stand.

Now, a newly reconstituted Tree Board is ready to re-re-green the heart of Westport.

The 7-member committee — appointed by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, and chaired by Tricia Rubenstein — includes horticulturalists, a dendrologist and a landscape architect. Dick Stein also serves on the state Notable Trees Project. Al Gratrix is a Planning and Zoning Commission alternate.

Recently, the Tree Board met with Beautification Committee chair Kathy Davis-Groener. Together — and with the help of the P&Z Department — they will Make The Post Road Green Again.

In areas like this -- with Sasco Creek Village is on the right, and Lansdowne Condos (not shown) on the left, the Greening of the Post Road project still bears fruit. (Photo/Google Street View)

In areas like this — with Sasco Creek Village on the right, and Lansdowne Condos (not shown) on the left, the Greening of the Post Road project still bears fruit. (Photo/Google Street View)

Fortunately, the US 1 project is not starting from Square 1.

Voluminous files — and dozens of photographs — document the work of the many committed volunteers in the 1970s.

They’ve got the law on their side too. P&Z regulations set landscape standards. For example, they require shade trees every 50 feet in front of any commercial business. In addition, “all landscaping plans shall conform with the ‘Greening of the Post Road Tree Program,” among other requirements.

The  Tree Board will determine the right species, and the right places to plant them. Not every tree can survive near constant traffic.

Sycamores seem to be the hardiest — they’re thriving near Carvel and Stop & Shop. Norway maples appear to have the toughest time.

Most of the trees planted in the 1970s by 606 Post Road East have been removed. (Photo/Google Street View)

Most of the trees planted in the 1970s by 606 Post Road East have been removed. (Photo/Google Street View)

But that’s not the only challenge. Roadway shoulders are state right-of-way. But — even though P&Z regulations require trees — state authorities need permission from property owners to plant there. “It’s a gray area,” the tree board says.

The state Department of Transportation does not say so exactly, but the fewer trees they have to worry about, the happier they are. (US1 is a state road.)

The DOT employs an arborist. But his office is in New Haven; his territory runs from Greenwich to Guilford, and all the way north to Redding. That’s a lot of trees for one guy to cover.

Some trees remain near the Fresh Market shopping center. Others have been planted in the parking lot, as per town regulations. But many others are gone from the roadside.

Some trees remain near the Fresh Market shopping center. Others have been planted in the parking lot, as per town regulations. But many others are gone from the roadside. (Photo/Google Street View)

The new greening project will not involve fundraising. It’s the obligation of property owners — including those proposing new construction, or renovations — to replace the trees they remove.

And, the Tree Board notes, to replace those that a previous property owner might have cut down, too.

Back in the Ford administration, the Greening of the Post Road changed the look — and feel — of Westport’s Post Road. The moment anyone crossed the border into Norwalk, the difference was clear.

The Post Road/Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road intersection is one of the worst in Fairfield County. But at least there's greenery on the way to Norwalk.

The Post Road/Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road intersection is one of the worst in Fairfield County. But at least there’s greenery on the way to Norwalk.

The effects of the project were expected to live for generations. Barely 4 decades later, a new program is sorely needed.

But this Tree Board is optimistic. They know their cause is a good one — environmentally as well as aesthetically — and the time is right.

They also know they can’t do it alone. If you’re interested in helping — or want more information — click here. Or email westporttreeboard@gmail.com, or treewarden@westportct.gov.

 

Talkin’ Trees

As eagle-eyed Westporters spot tiny patches of green* around town, can buds on trees be far beyond?

Probably. But as the temperature climbs near 50 — be still, my heart! — it can’t hurt to talk about trees.

Tree warden Bruce Lindsay recently updated 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and the  Westport Tree Board about “tree-related accomplishments” over the past year.

Among the tree projects last year: the median on Jesup Road.

Among the tree projects last year: the median on Jesup Road.

More than 100 were planted in Westport since last spring. Sites include downtown, Town Hall, the transfer station, Staples High School, Veterans Green, Jesup Road and Longshore.

Many were donated by Planters’ Choice Nursery in Newtown. They’ve provided more for 2015, to be used for Main Street improvements, Parks and Rec plantings, on roadsides, and in Tribute Tree and Arbor Day projects.

Donations of trees, planting services and funds also came from the Westport Woman’s Club, Smith Richardson Foundation, and local residents.

In January, Public Works and the Parks and Rec Department conducted a tree inventory on 200 acres of land at Longshore and Compo Beach. The information — including species, diameter, health, risk factors, maintenance needs and potential threats — will be merged with the town’s Geographical Information System.

Ahead: an inventory of trees on all public properties. That will generate a management plan, to be used for years to come.

New trees will add to the beauty of downtown.

New trees will add to the beauty of downtown.

Westporters love our trees — until they fall on our power lines, grow dangerously old or tall, or otherwise cause concern. Thanks to our tree warden and board, it looks like we’re emerging from a long walk in the woods of neglect.

PS: Interested in volunteering with the Tree Board, or learning more about Westport’s trees? Email treewarden@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-1134.

*A color often associated with grass. 

Downtown Trees: The Sequel

This morning’s post warned that some beloved trees may soon disappear from downtown.

To everything there is a season, and all that. In a nearby location, 9 new trees will soon provide beauty and shade.

The Westport Tree Board has announced a “Memorial Tree Program” for Veterans Green. Trees may be purchased to honor — here’s the tie-in — veterans, for their service to our country.

New trees will join old on Veterans Green.

New trees will join old on Veterans Green.

A donation of $2,000 includes the cost and planting of the tree, 5 years of maintenance, and a 4 inch-by-8 inch commemorative plaque.

Nine spots have been chosen, on a first-come, first-served basis. The size and species of each tree will be determined by the tree warden.

Applications are available in the Town Clerk’s and Public Works department offices, up the hill from the green in Town Hall. They’re also at the Parks & Rec office at Longshore. For more information, call 203-341-1134, or email treewarden@westportct.gov.

Deadline for full payment is October 20. Just in time for Veteran’s Day.

New Life For Old Trees?

The trees lining the entrance to Longshore are handsome and stately.

They’re also old. And dangerous.

The Parks and Recreation Department, with the consent of the tree warden, has identified approximately 15 trees that are the last of the originals along the entry road. They’re identified by their poor shape, and the condition of their crowns.

These trees have reached — or will soon — the end of their useful lives. The crowns are sparse and misshaped, as a result of deterioration and falling dead wood over many years. Large branches have fallen — threatening golfers, drivers, bicyclists and joggers — and the trees themselves may topple in high winds.

The trees lining the Longshore entrance have a long history -- and are now old.

The trees lining the Longshore entrance have a long history — and are now old.

Nearly 20 years ago, Parks and Rec realized what was coming “down the road.” They planted a new strand of trees, further back along both sides of the entrance. Now mature, they create a visual row of trunks and shade. When the 15 oldest trees — which also crowd and shade the new trees — are cut, the new ones will benefit.

Parks and Rec — and the Westport Tree Board — understand the love many Westporters have for trees. (Until they fall on your property.) Thanks to the new trees, there will be no real visual impact after removal.

And the department and board hope the old trees will have a 2nd life.

That’s where “06880” comes in. If you’ve got an idea on how to “repurpose” those 15 trees, click “Comments.” Artists? Furniture makers (Todd Austin, perhaps)? Let’s hear your thoughts.

WARNING: There is no guarantee that the trees are in good enough shape for anything.

Longshore trees frame this wedding photo by Victoria Souza.

Longshore trees frame this wedding photo by Victoria Souza.