AP NEWS

Beauty of Binney

January 12, 2019

GREENWICH — Binney Park is one of the first things people see when driving into Old Greenwich. With a history that dates back to the 1920s, village residents and the town are working together to try to protect the Gateway to OG’s future.

A new Binney Park Advisory Committee has been formed to make the recommendations of the 2015 master plan for the park more than just words on a page.

Long-term sustainability, protection against flooding and the effects of climate change, improved sidewalks and pedestrian access, enhanced aesthetics with plantings that adhere to the original park plans, all are goals of the plan, and the new committee.

“I would say this work is going to take about five years,” said Bruce Spaman, the town’s recently retired tree warden and a member of the committee. “It’s really about getting the money together for this project in the budget. I don’t think you can do it all in one season. We’re going to focus on the south side first with floral plantings and gardens and maybe redirect some sidewalks. It won’t be earthshaking stuff (at first), but it’s going to be good.”

Some money has already been budgeted for the project. A past allocation of $150,000 from 2017 will get work started.

Nancy Chapin, committee liaison to the Board of Parks and Recreation, said there will be opportunity for public-private partnerships for improvements. Spaman said the group wants input from the community, particularly from local garden clubs and the Old Greenwich and Riverside associations.

“By all of us working together we will make sure that this plan gets implemented,” Chapin said.

The master plan recommends a close association with the original plans for the park from nearly 100 years ago. The nine-person committee came about after the completion of the master plan in 2015. The document’s first priority was completing the long-called-for dredging of the park’s pond but residents also wanted to see more.

“In my mind, Binney Park is one of the crown jewels of our parks in town,” Peter Uehry, a member of both the master plan committee and the new advisory committee, said. “But the problem is that this jewel has always needed some polishing. The town has done good jobs with Byram Park and Bruce Park but Binney Park didn’t get the focus it needed until we did the master plan.”

With the dredging essentially done, Uehry said the time has come to focus on landscaping and other improvements.

“The committee is working now to see if we can get some of this accomplished,” he said, adding he is optimistic given progress that has already been made.

He pointed to a loop trail that originates from Wesskum Wood Road, and to a new playground on the south end of the park that has met with acclaim.

In order to make the park better able to withstand the frequent flooding problems in the low lying area, some trees are set to be removed. Spaman, still working for the town on a contractual basis, posted notices early this past week. Unless an objection forces a hearing by the middle of this coming week, the trees will be cut down to allow for new ones to be planted in the spring.

“We’re looking at trees that can’t sustain a flooding,” Spaman said. “We really want to emphasize trees that can take periods of inundation.”

“This is low-hanging fruit,” Chapin said. “These trees have been slowly dying.”

Uehry also hopes future bridge replacement projects on Sound Beach Avenue and Wesskum Wood Road, likely a few years away, can be done with a focus on the aesthetic view of the park for people driving into Old Greenwich off of the Post Road.

“My personal (project) is the northwest corner where you come down Sound Beach Avenue and it meets Arch Street by the Perrot Library,” Uehry said. “That’s the most visible thing people see when they come down Sound Beach. That area should be improved so the first sense you get when you see it is, ‘Wow there’s something really special here.’”

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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