Greenwich Free Press: P&Z Respond to Greenwich Ave Intersection Designs Updated by Greenscape Committee

A marathon P&Z meeting on Tuesday started with the municipal Improvement and Site Plan application for two intersection projects on Greenwich Avenue: Arch St/Havemeyer and Grigg/Fawcett.

The applications are being ushered through the approval process by DPW deputy commissioner Jim Michel.

At the July 7 P&Z meeting, feedback to Mr. Michel was that the design was too “engineer-ie” and should honor the historic nature of the area, particularly the triangle in front of the historic post office (now home to RH). The entire Avenue is a Historic National Register District.

Since the last meeting, the Greenscape committee, led by architect and Architectural Review Committee chair Richard Hein and landscape architect and ARC vice chair John Conte, made changes to the design.

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Greenwich Sentinel: News Briefs: July 15

July 15 Last Day For Treasured Tree Nominations

Do you have a tree on your property that you treasure? A tree is treasured for many reasons: it may be part of a special memory; it may have a special history or shape; it may be a particularly beautiful tree; or its size or age may be special. Nominate your treasured tree at

If your tree is selected, your tree will have a nameplate installed and you’ll be awarded a framed photograph of the nameplate installation ceremony at a special reception in the fall. Your tree will also be enrolled in the Greenwich Tree Conservancy’s roster of Treasured Trees.

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Greenwich Sentinel: Why is it important to advocate for our Trees? 7.8.2022

By JoAnn Messina

The Greenwich Tree Conservancy (GTC) plants trees in partnership with the town and educates on the important role they play in our community’s overall health, but how do we protect trees? You may not be aware that we speak in support of tree health at both the local and state level.

Locally, as you have likely witnessed, many developers clearcut properties before beginning their work. The pace of this destructive practice appears to be increasing at the same time as stronger storms are creating more flooding. Entire lots are cleared of trees prior to seeking building permits to make it easier for new construction. There is no protection in place for our private trees.

Building applications that are non-conforming must come before the Planning and Zoning Commission. These applications often include extensive removal of trees and GTC advocates for a more respectful approach to development to better protect our tree canopy and the ecosystem services it provides our community. Throughout these discussions GTC and others supply well documented information on concerns including the resulting increase in erosion and flooding, the creation of heat-islands and other unanticipated outcomes that would negatively affect the neighborhood.

Should a resident or business want a tree removed within the public right-of-way (ROW), they submit a request to the Town Tree Warden. If the tree is determined to be healthy, and the applicant still wants it removed, the Tree Warden posts the tree for removal and if anyone objects within 10 days a tree hearing is scheduled. GTC often requests hearings to enable a closer look at the issues at hand. The tree warden listens to testimonies from all parties, including concerned residents, and makes a ruling within 3 days. Any ruling may be appealed to the Superior Court in Stamford.

At the state level we often encounter our primary electricity provider, Eversource. Eversource speaks about hardening their infrastructure, yet their practices appear to focus solely on removal and “enhanced” trimming of our trees and not on equipment upgrades or undergrounding of wires in municipal areas. In the past their pruning protocol had been to clear all tree material within 8 feet of transmission lines, causing a “V” in town trees.

More recently, Eversource has increased their tree trimming requesting a clearance of 10 feet along with a “fall zone”. This policy is currently being tested in several towns. To date these increased tree trimming policies have not been shown to create a failsafe electrical system and the great damage they cause to the health of town trees is well understood. For this reason, the GTC advocates at state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) hearings to request that the benefits trees provide communities be considered when establishing utility company tree trimming guidelines. As town tree canopies are weakened by aggressive trimming the trees become more vulnerable to damage from strong storms. The GTC provides documented evidence and a voice of reason to PURA as they oversee our utility companies.

Additionally, we speak to the clear cutting by CT DOT along I-95 and the Metro North right-of-way that includes easements provided to Eversource. All three entities have removed sound buffers that are critical to adjacent neighborhoods, have decimated habitat for songbirds and pollinators, and left behind wide open areas for invasive plants to take over. Their management policy is to apply pesticides, in many cases directly adjacent to homes and schools with young children. This creates a vicious cycle which would not occur if a properly managed tree canopy had remained. Policies such as these has left GTC with a sense of responsibility to speak out and advocate at state agency hearings and directly to the Governor.

Currently in Connecticut there are very few regulations on private property trees. We continue to discuss how we might find a way to protect a portion of our private property trees, to maintain the critical water and soil systems we all depend upon. We assisted in the passage of a public tree ordinance and feel it is time to discuss some form of private tree protection. This can take one of many forms, permits to remove trees over a certain size or a percentage of coverage to remain. We should discuss canopy loss and canopy goals. It looks as if the time has come to broaden our understanding as a community and begin to take action. Please join us in discussion, advocacy or donation as we seek to preserve and protect our town tree canopy.

JoAnn Messina has been the Executive Director of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy for over 15 years and is currently a member of the P&Z Greenscape Task Force. Prior to that she chaired the First Selectman’s Parking and Traffic Committee, was a member of the Selectman’s Nominations Advisory Committee and was President of the LWVG.

This article originally appeared in the Greenwich Sentinel on July 8, 2022.

Greenwich Free Press: P&Z Refers Historic Greenwich Ave Intersection Design to Experts on Greenscape Committee

At both Wednesday’s P&Z briefing and Thursday’s meeting, the main attraction was the proposed intersection improvements on Greenwich Avenue: Havemeyer/Arch and Fawcett/Grigg, though most comments focused on the former. The entire Avenue is a Historic National Register District.

First Selectman Fred Camillo, who has passionately advocated for the improvements, said that back in the 1990s there was an effort to do something similar on the Avenue. He noted that was prior to cell phones and the more recent influx of out-of-towners.

Camillo said the improvements were fully funded by a state grant and the effort had the support of Greenwich Police, Greenwich Fire Dept, Greenwich Communities, Commission on Aging, and the First Selectman’s Committee for People with Disabilities, as well as owners of local businesses and restaurants.

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Greenwich Sentinel: Centennial Greenwich Horse Show returns 6.17.2022

Thanks to Susan Schieffelin for creating the GTC’s first place arrangement at the Greenwich Horse Show’s Annual Floral Centerpiece Contest!


By Anne W. Semmes

On Sunday morning last the clouds did not hamper the 100th Greenwich Horse Show, returned to its handsome greenspace of fields and tree-lined pathways in the backcountry setting so kindly offered to the sponsoring Greenwich Riding and Trails Association (GRTA) by the Gerrish Milliken family for 37 years until the death of Phoebe Milliken in 2019 and subsequent sale of the Milliken property. Then came the Covid shut down in 2020, with in 2021 the need to move the Horse Show to a Bedford, NY location. But in 2022 the Greenwich Horse Show has returned to that Milliken setting off Bedford Road thanks to the generosity of the new owners, who wish to be known as 39 Pierson LLC.

What shined on that Sunday morning were the happy young riders smartly astride their horses, strutting their best, in walking, trotting, cantering, and jumping, as parents, judges, and instructors kept a close eye. But to arrive upon that scene this reporter first entered the great white tent where the Elegant Horse Show Luncheon would take place at noon. The tables were waiting with extraordinary centerpieces created by individuals and organizations participating in the 6th Annual Floral Centerpiece Contest.

On a separate table were the silver trophies and prizes awaiting the young riders, aged from 5 to 18! Stepping out of the tent, and led by Frank “Rusty” Parker, who serves the GRTA as executive vice president of operation, we are met by a 13-year-old rider, Porter Campbell, with a big smile on her face having won an armful of trophies and blue ribbon. She introduces her sizeable horse as “Notorious,” aptly named, at 17 hands high.

“She’s been riding since she was two,” says her mom. “We lived across from a farm in Water Mill, L.I. and she would see the girls riding little ponies, saying ‘Mommie, ponies!’”

Most riders begin competing in their teens shares Rusty Parker. And they come from a 50-mile range. “It could be Long Island,” he notes. “The thing is there’s a lot of horse shows to choose from on a regular basis in the summer. People decide where they want to go, because certain people are going for points to qualify for something bigger. And so, the trainers all figure this out, one week at a time.”

“And in Ring Two riders trot please, in Ring Two,” says the loudspeaker most loudly.
We’re to meet up with a trainer, but first comes Rusty Parker’s son Frank Parker holding two wiggly small daughters. Frank has ridden as has his father and grandfather Frank “Bud” Parker who had headed the GRTA and supported it in many ways.

“In Ring One walk please, and in Ring Two riders canter please,” blasts the loudspeaker.

The 2022 Greenwich Horse Show riders include back row, L to R, Evelyn Handler (12), Leni Handler (16), Emma Heffer (14), and Avery Schauder (17). Front row, L to R, Regan Driscoll (6 1/2), Winnie Meister, and Catherine Driscoll. Photo by Anne W. Semmes.

We next meet up with trainer Fred Schauder. “We start with children about five years old for horse shows. It will start with walks around the course to learn their overall appearance and their posture.” Schauder manages some 30 horses on Country Lane Farm on John Street, with more property on Round Hill Road. Training kids for 33 years he notes, “So, we have had three different generations of families now come through. Grandparents ride and parents ride, daughters and now granddaughters.” He adds, “So, my wife Christina and I have three daughters of our own that have all grown up riding here.”

Horseback riding, he can attest is, “Incredibly popular in Greenwich for the kids. When we first started this business, which Rusty would probably attest to, “It was the older families and their next generations that were coming along that were horse people and loved having their children ride.” But even with the transition of new people moving to Greenwich, he says, “There are endless numbers of children that want to ride. And COVID actually brought more kids out than ever before because it was a wonderful place to be outside – fresh air – out with an animal.”

Schauder introduces me to some of his young riders, including Regan Driscoll, age 6 ½, with two a bit older, Winnie Meister and Catherine Driscoll. “They’ve all been riding about two years,” says Schauder, who calls over four older girls for a photo, ranging in age from 12 to 16, and notes, “So, they’ve all been with us a long time.”

We head back to the tent as its lunchtime. With most of the competing families – and trainers busy ringside, the luncheon is mainly attended by “friends of friends,” says Rusty Parker. And the ladies with their hats and gentlemen have arrived. Some have gravitated to the auction items that include curious horse rider’s gear. “The auction actually went online last night” says Parker. “But if you’d like to bid, “There’s a 12-people croquet party, a sailboat luncheon, or a weekend in the Berkshires if it interests you.”

Parker introduces at the tent entrance, Lisa Bailey Cassidy who started the Elegant Horse Show Luncheon 11 years ago. She recalls, “The then chair of the horse show had decided she’d done it 25 years or so and she was ready to move on. And they needed a new chairperson and asked me to do it, which was fun. So, we just decided to add this more elegant luncheon and the Hunter Derby which has prize money, and it really took hold and had quite a following over the last 11 years.”

Inside the tent on exhibit are giant photographs of generations of GRTA notables astride horses: the Parker family, the Henry Fisher family, the von Gontards, Norma Bartol, Migi Serrell, and perched on a table the formal riding outfit of Elise Hillman Green’s mother, Sandra Hillman, worn at a Madison Square Garden competition.

Elise Green’s name was called out later in the lunch when Donna Moffly, founder with her late husband Jack of Greenwich Magazine, and longtime supporter of the Horse Show, read out the names of winners of the Annual Floral Centerpiece Contest. “Number Six goes to my friend Elise Green for a thing of beauty by going into her mother’s [Sandra Hillman’s historic] garden this morning in her nightgown and picking fresh roses, all pink and peach and white.”

First prize went to the Greenwich Tree Conservancy for its “amazing assemblage of all kinds of mosses on a log.” “Second prize goes to Troy Nurseries who did a straw hat right on this table,” said Moffly, adding, “I covet that hat.” And Third Prize went to Dancia Callahan for “probably the most amazing assemblage” Moffly had “ever seen.” But this reporter’s favorite was the white horse on our table with its mane and tail of air plants, surrounded by hydrangeas, with a sign that read “Sold” by its creator Catalina Weiser. Surely a keeper horse.

clouds did not hamper the 100th Greenwich Horse Show, returned to its handsome greenspace of fields and tree-lined pathways in the backcountry setting so kindly offered to the sponsoring Greenwich Riding and Trails Association (GRTA) by the Gerrish Milliken family for 37 years until the death of Phoebe Milliken in 2019 and subsequent sale of the Milliken property. Then came the Covid shut down in 2020, with in 2021 the need to move the Horse Show to a Bedford, NY location. But in 2022 the Greenwich Horse Show has returned to that Milliken setting off Bedford Road thanks to the generosity of the new owners, who wish to be known as 39 Pierson LLC.

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Greenwich Free Press: Proposed “Vinci Gardens” Criticized for Height, Mass, Tree Loss, Lack of Respect for Historic Byram School 6.10.2022

Mike Kristoff beside the tree planted in memory of his late wife, Anne Kristoff, who advocated on behalf of the former Byram School. Sept 29, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager

On Tuesday, Greenwich Communities (formerly the Greenwich Housing Authority), presented plans to P&Z for a 52 unit senior independent living building in Byram.

The building will be restricted to residents age 62+ and the disabled.

It will be named “Vinci Gardens.”

Next door, the housing authority already has three townhouse buildings with 21 family apartments, plus a 51-unit elderly apartment building at McKinney Terrace. The existing development includes the former Byram School, which is on the National Register.

The project would be modular construction, with each side of the corridors being one room wide. Assembly would be done on site with the facade installed afterward. Siding would be vinyl.

Major issues were raised about the site plan that need to be resolved, though much of the conversation and public comments stemmed from loss the mature tree canopy, respect for the adjacent historic Byram School, and the building’s proposed size.

Click here to read the full article on Greenwich Free Press


Cos Cob Library Tree Walk with Lisa Beebe 6.6.2022

Greenwich Sentinel: The Greenscape Project 6.3.2022

By Julia Barcello

“We want to keep the Green in Greenwich” expressed Fred Camillo Thursday afternoon when discussing The Greenscape Project. The project will result in a transformed Route 1 with additional trees. The goal of this project is to protect Greenwich’s natural beauty and sustainability.

The Greenscape Task Force is a group which works to preserve Greenwich’s natural beauty by improving parts of Greenwich through the addition of greenery. The Task Force includes members of the Architectural Review Committee, the Town Tree Warden, Greenwich Tree Conservancy, the Conservation Department, the Department of Public Works, and town residents.

The Task Force began the project to plant trees along Route 1 approximately two and a half years ago to transform the road into a gorgeous route lined with greenery. The plan was first proposed in the Town’s 2019 Plan of Conservation and Development. The group of advocates aiming to keep Greenwich green has been walking the entirety of Route 1 marking locations for the addition of 500 trees. The Department of Public Works has verified that each tree location meets the town highway and safety standards, and will not interfere with traffic- including during the construction.

Awaiting state and Representative Town Meeting (RTM) approval, the planting of these trees will begin along the west side of Route 1 on the Port Chester/Greenwich Border and end just off of Hassake Road in Old Greenwich. The timing of when trees will be planted is based on their type, some will be planted during the Spring of 2022, and others will be planted beginning in October of 2022. The Greenscape Task Force will be funding all landscaping, “to make this a tree-line boulevard” according to Executive Director of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy, JoAnn Messina.

Members of Greenwich can now look forward to driving through this tree-lined boulevard, and many more projects to come that conserve the town’s natural charm and beauty. The group hopes to continue with more projects preserving Greenwich’s ethereal beauty in the future, “with projects like this, once you do one, there will be other opportunities to do more” stated Jacalyn Pruitt from the Planning and Zoning Department.

This article was featured in the Greenwich Sentinel at

Greenwich Free Press: Major Public-Private Partnership in the Works to Plant 500 Trees on Rte 1 in Greenwich 5.27.2022

Tree Operations Manager Joe Kay, DPW communications specialist Renee Wallace, P&Z planner Jackie Pruitt, DPW deputy commissioner Jim Michel, P&Z director Katie DeLuca, tree warden Dr. Greg Kramer, Greenwich Tree Conservancy executive director JoAnn Messina, Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo, State Rep Steve Meskers (D-150). May 26, 2022. Photo: Leslie Yager

With luck by October crews will be busy digging holes and planting the first of 500 new trees planned along Route 1. The idea for the trees – both native species and ornamental – is to create a tree lined boulevard from Port Chester and Stamford.

JoAnn Messina, director of the Tree Conservancy said the number of different departments and agencies involved is numerous.

On Thursday elected officials, town employees and volunteers gathered along busy Route 1 in Old Greenwich to mark the last leg of the effort to pick sites for new trees.

Messina said 2-1/2 years earlier the Planning & Zoning commission chair Margarita Alban and town planner Katie DeLuca approached the Tree Conservancy, Conservation Commission, Parks & Rec, and Architectural Review Committee about the idea of greening the Rte 1 corridor. ARC chair Richard Hein became the chair of the Greenscape Committee.

Many recall an early project initiated by the Greenscape Committee involved planting thousands of crocuses in the island along Rte 1 at the foot of Stanwich Rd.

As for the the vision of a tree-lined boulevard, Messina said so far sites have been mapped out for 300 trees. [continued]

Click here to read the full article on the Greenwich Free Press website.