At the most recent P&Z meeting, the Greenscapes committee proposed improvements to the large grassy island at the foot of Stanwich Rd by Putnam Ave.
Referred to as either a “Chestnut Island” or “Chestnut Allée,” the project is a pilot in a series of efforts to improve the landscape along the six-mile Post Road corridor.
The proposal was well received, though the commission asked questions about ongoing maintenance, given that the land is owned by the State, and the Town will have to apply for an encroachment permit.
Initially the Greenwich will ask for permission to do some maintenance, including removing vines from trees.
Next, would be permission to plant perennial bulbs, initially a sweep of crocuses to mirror “Crocus Hill” at the intersection of Post Rd and Maple Ave. The last part would include hardscape improvements.
Greenscapes chair Richard Hein said the project would ultimately include moving and improving the bus stop, improving the existing sidewalk, and, long-term, reclaiming the paved area at the north end of the island.
“Mr. Michel thought it could be reclaimed in a green effort, which would reduce impermeable surface and increase the square footage of (the island),” Hein said, referring to the DPW deputy commissioner Jim Michel. “The First Selectmen inspired us because he said it was one of the primary gateways from I95 in Greenwich when you come up from the city…It has a critical visual impact as well as a functional impact.”
Hein said the project included pruning and care to the existing important trees, replacing trees the tree warden said had not matured well with Chestnut trees, and top-dressing the soil to get rid of ruts and create a nicer, more easily maintained lawn.
He said planting crocuses would represent the least amount of maintenance, though perhaps plans might evolve to include more substantial plantings, possibly a pollinator landscape.
“Who is going to maintain this?” commissioner Andy Fox asked.
Commissioner Nick Macri, who is a member of the Greenscapes committee, said the island was being designed to require minimal maintenance.
“We’re trying to work out a maintenance agreement between DPW and the State,” Macri continued, adding that currently it is mostly the State DOT who mows the grass.
“I think these are great ideas – a pocket park – but we need to make sure that the BET and Parks Dept have the money to properly maintain them including irrigation,” Mr. Fox said.
“It is not a park,” Ms Alban said. “We would not irrigate this. The Tree Conservancy is donating the additional four Horse Chestnuts and will put the (water) bags on them.”
“This does not become a park, so it does not come under Parks & Rec,” Alban added. “If we could figure out a way of doing it, we would have a private group doing it. For example, Green & Clean has done a lot of work in the area of Exit 5.”
“There not for profits who want to do this work. We just have to figure out the legal issues so they do not have liability. That’s what DPW is working on,” Alban added. “That is one option. The other option is that this it is all funded by non profits.”
Alban said a public-private partnership might be formed for a 503(C)3 to fund improvements along the entire six mile corridor.
This is the pilot,” Alban said. “We’re addressing all of these issues right now. It may just take a while, but once it’s in place we’ll have a process for the rest of the Post Road.”
Mr. Hein said the group did not anticipate elaborate gardening or maintenance.
“The intent is to design something that looks like Crocus Hill. Just mow the lawn and the crocuses will take care of themselves. It’s literally lawn and crocuses and trees.”Richard Hein, chair of the Greenscapes Committee
Greenscapes was an outgrowth of the 2019 Plan of Conservation and Development, which includes a goal of beautifying the Post Road corridor.
The committee includes members from various town departments and agencies – P&Z, Parks & Rec (tree warden), ARC, DPW, Conservation and GIS, as well as the Greenwich Tree Conservancy and interested neighbors.