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Taking Root

The Plight of Neighborhood Trees



Earlier this summer, I stepped onto my front porch to get my mail and noticed a sign tacked onto the enormous maple tree across the street. Curious, I headed over to investigate. “Public notice of tree/shrub removal,” the notice began, and then continued: “It is hereby given that the tree/shrub will be removed for the following reason.” On the line below, in thick, black marker, someone had written “In Decline.” The notice concluded with instructions about how to object to the removal of the tree/shrub (one has ten days, after which a public hearing is held) and the printed name of our Fairfield tree warden, the date, and the Fairfield town seal.

I have a complicated relationship with trees. On one hand, one of the benefits of living in the Stratfield section is our tree-lined streets. My side of the street was all farmland until the late 1930s, so we are blessed with some truly remarkable (and remarkably tall) 80-year-old trees. These natural wonders provide much-needed shade, beautify our neighborhood, and provide homes for birds and chipmunks and Dewey the albino squirrel. (Yes, I named him “Dewey.” You’re welcome.)

On the other hand, old trees bring risks. Their complicated root systems buckle sidewalks and pierce sewer lines. Limbs and branches tumble during storms. (Back in the late nineties, during a particularly bad thunderstorm, a tree fell on my Saab; this led to my brief but militant “anti-tree” phase.) And trees, like all living things, eventually find themselves in decline—so, for the betterment of our neighborhood and the safety of our community, I suppose those trees must be felled.

Fairfield is a town that loves our trees—all 300,000 of them, a number that only accounts for those growing on public right-of-ways. For the past thirty years, the Arbor Day Foundation has named Fairfield one of 17 “Tree City USA communities” in Connecticut. (Fairfield and Stamford hold the longest such designations in the state).

If the information provided on Fairfield’s website is any indication, tree warden Jeffrey Minder has his hands full. Tree work receives one of three “priority” designations, ranging from “high priority” (“those trees determined to be hazardous to the public”) to “low priority” (“non-safety related tree work”). Trees cannot be removed “for doing what trees do naturally,” only for posing “risk to the public health, safety or welfare.” Residents are not allowed to trim their own trees without a permit or to plant trees on town property; however, Fairfield does participate in a tree-planting program in which a resident can, for a small cost, select and plant “a tree appropriate for your site…on the public right-of-way along your property line.” The Town of Fairfield even has a Forestry Committee that works with the Tree Warden to promote “awareness and appreciation for the environmental, economic, and cultural value of trees in Fairfield.”

Opinion about the removal of the tree on my street is decidedly mixed. Evelyn Rubak takes a pragmatic approach. “No one wants to cut a tree down,” she says, “but it’s in ill health. They’re old trees. They’re going to have to come down.” A few doors down the block, Jill Keating-Herbst is a bit more reluctant to let go of our neighborhood trees. “Ever since the storms,” she tells me, “I think there’s been a war on trees...I don’t like when they take down too many trees. It’s what makes the character of this neighborhood. It’s what makes people want to live here.”

As for me, I can’t quite decide. Frankly, I adore that big, old, flawed tree. It’s craggy and has character and history, its branches and trunk having outlasted the cows and sheep that grazed beside it back when my yard was just a meadow. That said, I also love my neighbors’ roof, and if any one of these trees were to come down in a storm, there would be devastating consequences. A recent article in the Hartford Courant noted that the tornadoes and microbursts that hit Connecticut in April led to more damage to our electrical system than occurred during Superstorm Sandy, destroying 288 miles of electrical lines.

And what caused much of this damage? You guessed it: trees. So I guess we can’t mourn the loss of an occasional tree, particularly if it has reached the end of its life cycle. The Town of Fairfield might decide to plant a sapling in its place. Perhaps we can imagine that sapling not as a replacement but as an extension—another chapter in the story of our neighborhood, and another chance to take root in the ground and reach toward the sky.


STAR TREES  Fairfield is home to the state’s largest red maple, white bark magnolia, and dawn redwood.

 

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January 2019

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
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Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
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Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
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View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Cost: Individual Member seats are $90 before 1/8, $110 for non-members

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Connecticut Convention Center
100 Columbus Blvd.
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Sponsor: CFA Society Hartford
Telephone: 860-604-1411
Contact Name: Rebecca Taylor
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Cost: Free

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Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
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View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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Join us for the reception on the opening evening of the exhibition, Ghosts: French Holocaust Children, on Wednesday, January 23rd, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Walsh Gallery at the Quick Center for...

Cost: 0

Where:
Walsh Gallery
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

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Join us for a conversation between collector Jeffrey Horvitz and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., (Curator, The Horvitz Collection and The J.E. Horvitz Consultative Curator, Department of Drawings, Division...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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A French Affair: Drawings and Paintings from The Horvitz Collection will be on view in the Bellarmine Hall Galleries from January 25 - March 29, 2019; an Opening Reception will take place on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Thursday, Jan. 24 Author Talk: Stephanie Land - Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Maid is showing up on almost every best of, must read, don't miss list of...

Cost: free

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Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
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View map »


Website »

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Cost: 0

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681 South Ave.
Waveny Park
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

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Cost: $15.00 - $20.00

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Wall Street Theater
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Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Jeanne Moore
Telephone: (203) 831-5004
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Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
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View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
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Cost: $5

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

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Canfin Gallery
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Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
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