Preserving Edgerton Park’s Stone Wall, Trees, and Gardens
(posted October 27, 2014)
Recent tree work in the Park work along the Whitney Avenue side has raised a number of questions from neighbors. Here’s what’s going on and why:
Over the summer, the Edgerton Park Conservancy grounds committee members and the Director of the New Haven Parks, Recreation and Trees Department took a long walk throughout the Park and discussed many concerns.
Unfortunately, a number of the very big concerns, such as deteriorating park roads and the forlorn pedestrian bridge, are way beyond the financial abilities of either the Conservancy or the City of New Haven at this time. We hope that may change in the future.
We are fortunate, however, that the city has undertaken to restore three of the Edgerton Park walls (the Regional Water Authority funded restoration of the north side wall). The results on Cliff Street, restored some years ago now, are fantastic. Repair of the Edgehill Road side began recently.
The Whitney Avenue Wall
The Whitney Avenue wall was completely rebuilt approximately 25 years ago. The Conservancy is now undertaking repairs and repointing on this segment of the wall – quarter century maintenance required so that the wall will not need to be rebuilt entirely once again. You can see a couple of bays that haven been completed so far at the north end by the Regional Water Authority. This maintenance work is costing the Conservancy tens of thousands of dollars. However, that is much less than the hundreds of thousands required to rebuild the wall.
The Urgent Issue – Tree roots damaging wall construction
Over time – and not in accordance with Robert Storer Stephenson's original park plan – trees grew up right next to the wall, especially on the Whitney Avenue side. If allowed to reach maturity, their roots will severely damage the wall's structure. Along part of the Whitney Avenue wall, the ground inside the park is much higher than on the street side; at this point the wall is actually a retaining wall. We are already concerned about bulging areas of the wall. We asked the city to remove trees right next to the wall that might harm that wall. The Conservancy is grateful to the Parks Department for all of their hard work and assistance.
Edgerton Park has remained a jewel because of the collaboration between the Parks Department and the Conservancy over the years. The Edgerton Park Conservancy's mission is to restore and maintain the park. Usually restoring the landscape means planting, but as we have learned, good forest management at times requires trimming, cutting, and occasional tree removal. A less visible example than the work on Whitney Avenue is our ongoing effort to contain/remove a number of invasive species in the park, including knotweed and Norway maples, to preserve Storer's original plan and its diversity. Landscape restoration includes seeding bare soil and replanting species from the original plan where missing, with the goal of filling visual holes.
These projects take time. Our resources are limited and must be very carefully allocated. Projects are completed in stages as schedules, weather and funds permit. A number of parties are involved including the Parks Department, Urban Resources Initiative, private contractors, the Edgerton Park groundskeeper, Conservancy board members and volunteers. Edgerton Park is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Conservancy, after many big projects to restore park structures, is committed to maintaining those structures as well as the park grounds.
Going forward, EPC will post notices on our website and email the neighborhood lists when tree work is to be done.
– Edgerton Park Conservancy Board