Greenwich Tree Warden Rules on Fate of 21 Trees Posted for Removal for Cardinal Stadium Project


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Last Wednesday, Greenwich Tree Warden Dr. Greg Kramer held a public hearing on the fate of 34 trees posted for removal on the GHS campus as part of the Cardinal Stadium project.

Architect for the BOE Russ Davidson said that the number of trees had been reduced to 21, and it was necessary to cut them down for fire and emergency access, utilities, storm drainage requirements and ADA Access and parking.
Several people spoke in favor of ADA parking, which unfortunately pitted people involved in the stadium upgrade project against people from the Greenwich Tree Conservancy, who don’t oppose ADA parking or accessibility to the stadium.

At the end of the day though, the discord stemmed from the fact trees are posted for removal at the end of a project, rather than the beginning.
On the day of the hearing, Russell Davidson, architect representing the Board of Education, stated for the record that 13 of the 34 trees would not need to be removed for the current phase of the construction project after all.

This brought the number of trees requested for removal down to 21 trees.
Kraemer said the number of trees, species, and Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) measured in inches requested for
removal are as follows:

  • (4) Japanese Falsecypress (Cedar) (Chamaecyparis pisifera) DBH of 20, 20, 18 inches and 13 inches.
  • (1) Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) DBH of 23 inches (Not shown in the landscape plan)
  • (2) London Plane (Plantanus x acerifolia) DBH of 20 and 18 inches.
  • (11) Norway Maples (Acer platanoides) DBH of 29,19,18, 18, 18, 11, 9, 8, 8, 6 and 3 inches.
  • (3) White Mulberry (Morus alba), DBH of 27, 20, and 13 inches.
  • (1) White Spruce (Picea glauca), DBH of 9 inches.
  • (4) Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum), DBH of 42, 13, 13 and 9 inches.
  • (3) Japanese Yews (Taxus cuspidate), DBH of 29, 24 and 20 inches.
  • (5) White Fir (Abies concolor), DBH of 28, 28, 27, 23 and 17 inches.

On Monday evening Dr. Kramer announced that of the 21 trees remaining posted for removal that an additional 7 would be spared.

“After careful consideration and having listened objectively to the facts and opinions presented by all parties, I have ruled in the following manner on the posted trees listed above and referenced again below: It is my decision and have concluded that the following trees shall remain;

(2) London Plane Trees (Plantanus x acerifolia) consisting of a Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) 20 and 18 inches located along Putman Avenue.

The trees residing in the proposed rain garden (infrastructural improvements) location; (3) Japanese Falsecypress (Cedar), (Chamaecyparis pisifera) DBH 20, 18, and 13 inches, (1) Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) DBH 18 inches, and (1) Japanese Maple, (Acer palmatum) DBH 23 inches.”

The 12 trees Kramer indicates for removal are:

Additional 12 trees have been approved for removal as part of the A.D.A. Access and Parking, the trees approved are as follows:

  • (2) Japanese Yews (Taxus cuspidate), DBH of 24 and 20 inches.
  • (1) Japanese Falsecypress (Cedar) (Chamaecyparis pisifera) DBH of 20 inches.
  • (1) White Mulberry (Morus alba), DBH of 20 inches.
  • (2) Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum), DBH of 42 and 13 inches.
  • (5) Norway Maples (Acer platanoides) DBH of 29, 18, 18, 18,11 inches
  • (1) White Fir (Abies concolor), DBH of 28 inches.

“However,” Kramer said. “The trees approved for removal will only be granted to the Board of Education with the agreement that upon replanting, tree numbers will be doubled the current design requirement of 34 trees; this would equal a total of 68 trees of a size no less than a 2-inch caliper with the species to be determined at the discretion of the Tree Warden. Additionally, the Tree Warden requests an overall comprehensive landscape improvement plan that enhances the areas after construction.”

Kramer shared two notes.

(1) London Plane Tree (Plantanus x acerifolia) DBH 20 inches on Putnam Avenue is on State property and was not posted or part of the tree hearing, however is shown for removal on the plan.

(2) Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) DBH 12 and 18 inches along Putnam Avenue are on State property and were not part of the tree hearing, however is shown as removals on the plan.

This is the final decision of the Tree Warden of the Town of Greenwich. Let it be known that Chapter 451, Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes states “the Tree Warden shall render his/her decision granting or denying the application, and the party aggrieved by such decision may, within ten days, appeal therefrom to the superior court or the judicial district within which such town or borough is located.”

This decision will be posted in the lobby of the offices of the Parks and Recreation Department located on the 2nd floor of the Town Hall, the lobby of Town Hall, the Town Clerk’s office, and the Town of Greenwich website Parks & Recreation – Public Tree Hearing. It will also be sent to persons present at the Public Hearing and to those who appealed the posting of these trees for removal.

As your Tree Warden, by Connecticut statute, I am charged with the “care and control” of all Town-owned trees. The Tree Division doesn’t take this responsibility lightly. Each and every tree slated for removal is inspected and decided on a case-by-case basis.

Showdown over Trees Posted for Removal at GHS Highlights Flawed Process


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On Wednesday Greenwich Tree Warden Dr. Greg Kramer held a public hearing on the fate of 34 trees posted for removal on the GHS campus as part of the Cardinal Stadium project.

Architect for the BOE Russ Davidson said that the number of trees had been reduced to 21, and it was necessary to cut them down for fire and emergency access, utilities, storm drainage requirements and ADA Access and parking.

Color coded map of trees slated to be removed for Phase I of the project. In the lower right corner 13 trees have been identified to be retained, bringing the number from 34 down to 21 trees. The six purple circles are trees to be removed for ADA parking lot. The existing curb cut to the Post Road will be widened to meet state DOT requirements and red circles are to provide the fire and emergency and permissible traffic clearances. Green circles indicate trees to be removed for infrastructure improvements/utilities. (Phase II will continue from the parking lot to the back of the property, but it is not yet funded.)

Wes Stout, landscape architect for the BOE, said the trees being taken down had been naturally seeded “volunteers,” and would be replaced with valuable native species including Red Maple, Sugar Maple, Red Cedar, Sycamore, and Tupelo were “substantial” 3-1/2″ to 4″ caliper trees.

“These are average or larger than what you’d see in a new application,” he said of the replacement trees. “They’re basically on their way to maturity.”
About a dozen people testified on the importance of ADA accessibility and parking, and unfortunately the Tree Conservancy members were pitted against the stadium committee and members of the First Selectman’s Committee for People with Disabilities.

“We’re getting kind of ambushed at the end,” said BOE member Joe Kelly serves on the stadium committee. “You guys had plenty of time to contact us and give your opinion on things. Now you’re saying we didn’t discuss things with you guys. We were public on our discussions.”

JoAnn Messina, director of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy, said the issue of removing trees should have come up early in the process, not at the end.
She gave as an example a mature Oak Tree on Greenwich Ave at the corner of East Elm Street that was posted for removal for an ADA ramp after an MI was approved and work on the bumpout on Greenwich Ave was about to start. After a public hearing, Dr. Kramer ruled to take it down, but the decision was appealed to state Superior Court. Ultimately the tree was spared in a compromise.

Gunzburg said that outcome had not worked out well for the disabled community of Greenwich.

“You moved both parking spots to the opposite side of the street. It’s an ableist move, once again, where you’ve decided, okay, disabled people can both park on one side of the street. They don’t have to go to businesses on the other side. This is ridiculous. You do not have jurisdiction over trees that have to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Nevertheless, Messina said, “It should not be a decision of, ‘Should we have ADA parking or trees?’ because obviously we should have ADA parking, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of our trees.”

She said the town tree warden should have been in on the conversations much earlier, and suggested that Mr. Kelly had confused the Conservancy with the Tree Warden, who is charged with the care and control of trees.
“The Conservancy is merely a 501(c)3 that assists the town in planting trees with a public private partnership,” she said. “We have planted with the town in excess of 5,000 trees in the last 15 years on public lands in Greenwich.”

“If Dr. Kramer has been involved in the last two years, I apologize, but it was my understanding that the discussion only happened a couple months ago,” Messina said.

“That is correct,” Dr. Kramer said.

Messina said the fact that the existing trees were “volunteers” was not a reason to remove them.

She said when the BOE did the Music Instructional Space and Auditorium “MISA” project at the high school, the then tree warden ruled that each of the 121 trees removed would have to be replaced by 1-1/2 trees, and if they could not be on the GHS campus, they would go on another public school campus in town.

“They were not,” she said.

Similarly, she said 200 trees were cut down at New Lebanon School.

“Ultimately there was money transferred in budgets because, again, they were not replanted.”

“The trees needed at the front of the high school – Dr. Kramer was very aware of that and the Tree Conservancy will be planting 30 trees at the front of the high school. We shouldn’t have to do that. The BOE has been taking down all of these trees – just on this campus, in excess of 820, and in total, 1,000 trees on public school property in town.”

Clare Kilgallen, who was a member of the New Lebanon building committee, said that as many trees as possible were planted on the New Lebanon campus.

Trees posted for removal on the GHS campus. Work on the bleachers is under way. April 29, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager

Alan Gunzburg, chair of the First selectman’s Advsory Committee for People with Disabilities, said, “My civil rights are currently under attack through this. You have no right to block the ability for us to have a stadium that is fully accessible.”

“You don’t have a right to even talk about these trees. This hearing is a sham,” Gunzburg said. “There’s no reason for this hearing.”

Board of Education chair Peter Bernstein said, “If there is anything to be learned here, they should bring you in early on any town project so you can be involved from the outset. I see that as a go-forward fix, and if you talk to Katie DeLuca (Greenwich Town Planner), she’ll figure out how to make that happen, but I think that’s a really important thing.”

Bernstein said while there were some lovely wooded parts of the GHS campus, the areas with trees posted for removal were not among them.
He suggested the Tree Conservancy clear the scrub and beautify the area by the waterfall by the corner of Hillside Rd and Putnam Ave. “I think that could be a beautiful site,” he added.

Toward that end, Ashley Cole, a member of the Town of Greenwich Sustainability Committee and a liaison to the Greenscape Committee and resident of Hillside Rd opposite GHS, announced that she and Joe Kelly had been working on a private partnership to restore and landscape the waterfall area.

“We will be planting lots of trees there,” she said. “We think this is one of the signature beauty spots in Greenwich and on the Post Road.”

Ms Cole proposed that for every tree removed, two trees replace it.

“And we also plant as large a tree as we possibly can and we also load up the GHS campus with trees and plants, and return the landscape back to GHS for the students, the town and the neighbors, and make it gorgeous.”

Hillside neighbor Elizabeth Dempsey said she represented both causes. She decried safety and access problems as well of the “terrible loss of trees on campus.”

“The school looks barren and bleak, and someone referred to its style as ‘modern day penitentiary,’ for lack of replacing trees,” she said. “We can work together to solve these problems, but we must address safety and access first.”

After public comments, Dr. Kramer said he would issue his decision in three business days. Anyone who objects to the decision has the option of appealing the decision at the State level.