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Westport Dedicates Bench Made From Repurposed Longshore Trees

A total of 15 trees along the entrance to Westport's Longshore Club Park were removed.
A total of 15 trees along the entrance to Westport's Longshore Club Park were removed. Photo Credit: File

WESTPORT, Conn. -- A handcrafted bench repurposed from the trees removed from the Longshore Park entryway is displayed along with a pictorial history of the process in a new exhibit at the Westport Library.

An official opening and dedication will take place on Monday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. at the Westport Library, First Selectman Jim Marpe said.

Marpe, Library Director Maxine Bleiweis, Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay, and furniture artist Zeb Essylstyn from City Bench will be available to discuss the exhibit and answer questions at the event. The public is invited to attend.

In January, it was determined that some of the mature trees in the long allée framing the entrance to Longshore Park had reached the end of their useful life and for safety reasons required removal.

The issue proved emotional because the trees that were removed had been considered a Westport landmark. Due to the foresight of town officials more than 20 years ago, replacement trees were planted outside the boundary of the allée. Today those trees are thriving. The entrance to Longshore may look slightly different, but it remains iconic and will improve as the new trees mature, Marpe said in a statement.

At the time the trees were removed, Marpe noted his desire to save a piece of Westport’s history and find a use for it.

“Rather than dumping the logs into a landfill or grinding them into mulch, the beautiful wood from these trees has been repurposed and turned into tables and other furniture pieces," he said. "These pieces with their beautiful grain and color will live on in Westport and provide joy and beauty for generations to come.”

Lindsay agreed. “Using the timber from Longshore’s felled trees, and working with a company like City Bench, turns the trees into furniture for all to enjoy and gives the wood a second life. We have been able to transform our signature Longshore trees into something beautiful and inspirational. Additionally, a portion of the sale from each Longshore furniture piece will provide funds to purchase trees and enhance Westport’s urban forest.”

Working in conjunction with City Bench of Higganum, two tables and a bench have been created. The tables are on display in Town Hall and the bench at Westport Library, and all are available for sale to the public. More pieces will be created, with a portion of the sale proceeds going to the Town’s Tree Fund to support further tree planting.

The Westport Library's exhibit “Re-Purposing Westport's Trees” will be on display in November along with City Bench's repurposed wood bench. The two tables are in the lobby of Town Hall.

“I am thankful to Library Director Maxine Bleiweis for arranging for this wonderful display, which tells the story of how these famous trees were repurposed. Their legacy will now continue to live on in our community. I hope all Westporters have the opportunity to view the exhibit and the furniture,” Marpe said.

Bleiweis said that because "the public library is the original community recycler; it is entirely fitting for the library to host this display." Those interested in buying a table or bench should contact City Bench at 860-716-8111 or info@city-bench.com.

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