WESTPORT, Conn. — The view along the entrance of Westport's Longshore Club Park is set to change after First Selectman Jim Marpe on Wednesday gave the OK to remove 15 trees lining the park's entrance that have been deemed a public safety hazard.
Marpe, who in December asked for a temporary delay in the removal of the trees, said he made his decision after reviewing Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay’s report on the condition of the trees and after participating in Saturday’s public information session about the park's trees.
“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,” Marpe said. “Mr. Lindsay has made it clear that, among other things, there is a safety issue which the town cannot ignore and which requires the removal of these trees.”
In November, Lindsay determined that the trees posed a public safety concern after he was asked by the Parks and Recreation Department to inspect them. The trees slated for removal consist of 11 tulip poplars and four Norway maples. They are the last remaining original trees along the park’s entrance.
Knowing these iconic trees would at some point need to come down, the Parks and Recreation Department began planting replacement trees along the park’s entrance about 25 years ago. Since then, 75 new trees have been planted, Lindsay said in his report.
“I am fully aware that the entrance to Longshore Park presents one of the more scenic views in Westport,” Marpe said. “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.”
The removal of the the trees presents the town with an opportunity to plan for the future, he said. Many helpful suggestions to address the planting, care and maintenance of trees at Longshore and other town-owned properties, he said, have come out of recent discussions.
Keeping residents’ suggestions in mind, Marpe said he will consult with the Parks and Recreation Commission and staff to ensure that a sufficient number of trees are planted to replace those that are removed.
Marpe said he will also seek recommendations from Lindsay and the town’s Tree Board on how to adopt a program of tree preservation that balances aesthetics with safety, and will look into establishing a fund that residents can contribute to for the purpose of purchasing trees to plant 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,” Marpe said.