Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Citing safety concerns, Westport First selectman Jim Marpe said today that he agrees with recommendations to raze 15 mature trees at Longshore Club Park as recommended by town Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay and Parks & Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy.
In a statement, Marpe said he made his decision following Lindsay’s report and information provided at an on-site publication information session Saturday.
“This recommendation was an extremely difficult one to make given the age and size of the trees, as well as their iconic presence at Longshore,” he said, adding that those who attended Saturday’s meeting “helped me with my decision.”
Marpe noted that most of the larger trees along the entrance drive have already come down over the years, that the removal of the remaining trees “reflects the final stage of a landscape plan which has been in place for over 20 years.”
“Fortunately, the town had the foresight to start the tree replacement process many years ago,” Marpe said about the planting 25 years ago of younger trees set farther back from the road that the original ones.
“I am fully aware that the entrance to Longshore Park presents one of the more scenic views in Westport,” he added. “There are many newer trees along the entrance which are doing well, and I believe that as these new trees continue to mature, they will preserve that familiar majestic look.”
Marpe stressed that the trees’ removal offers an opportunity for the future planning.
“Many helpful suggestions to address the planting, care and maintenance of trees within Longshore Park and on other town-owned property in general have come out of our recent discussions,” he said.
Based on the suggestions, Marpe said he would consult with the Parks and Recreation Commission and staff to ensure that a sufficient number of trees are planted to replace those that are being removed.
He noted that Charlie Haberstroh, his pick as new chairman of the Parks & Recreation Commission, plans to propose that two trees be planted for each one removed within the park.
Marpe said he will also seek recommendations from Lindsay and the Tree Board on how to adopt a program of tree preservation, balancing aesthetics with safety. He is also looking into the establishment of a fund to which citizens may contribute for the purpose of purchasing trees to be planted on town property.
“I remain committed to ensuring that Longshore will continue to be of great pride to Westport residents today and for many generations to come,” he said.
Posted 01/15/14 at 06:06 PM
Thank you for taking the time to really look at this situation and make the right decision.
If every controversy Mr. Marpe faces while serving as Westport’s leader is made with the thought, care and transparency given to this one, it would sure seem we are in good hands.
Thank you, again, for your patience and your candor.