Woodward Park gets a makeover
NORWALK — Wind whipped through Woodward Park on Friday afternoon, shook the trees and tousled the hair of the many volunteers busy digging holes and spreading mulch.
But at least it wasn’t raining. “I was a little worried thinking, ‘Oh my God, we have to plant trees today,’” Ernie Grevers, of the Village Creek Association, said. “But the weather is beautiful.”
Grevers is one of a group of Village Creek residents who, along with volunteers from the Norwalk Tree Advisory Committee, FactSet and the Norwalk River Watershed Association, who are working to revitalize Woodward Park in South Norwalk and rebuild its former tree canopy.
“I’ve seen too many storms take trees down and not enough going back up,” said Rich Whitehead, chairman of the Tree Advisory Committee.
Grevers and Whitehead along with Lauri Mirra, also a Village Creek resident, Louise Washer, president of the NRWA, and 20 FactSet volunteers had gathered to replace white pines that were once plentiful in the park. The pines were not salt tolerant, and were wiped out by Superstorm Sandy’s waters.
Since 2012, the park has lacked a canopy.
“This park has been so neglected,” Mirra said. “People
would come here in the summer with umbrellas because there’s no tree coverage.”
On Friday, the group was planting eight trees in total — four tupelos and four oaks — around the edges of the park’s tennis and basketball courts. In August, another group from FactSet had come to remove invasive species of plants in the park.
“FactSet has been trying to increase its efforts to engage with the community,” said Rob Kyle, director of research strategy for the Norwalk-based software company. “The NRWA is one of the organizations we’ve chosen to partner with because a lot of our employee care about the environment.”
According to a Western Connecticut Council of Governments study done this year, Norwalk ranked low for canopy cover — 135 out of 169 municipalities — and high for impervious surface cover — 9 out of 169 — which combined can affect air quality, increase pollution as a result of runoff and increase temperatures. South Norwalk was cited as particularly problematic.
“Sono has been neglected, it’s an area that not a lot of money has been put into,” Grevers said. “But it’s a beautiful piece of property.”
With increased attention, the groups hope to add more tree coverage and better maintain the park. In addition, the NRWA is working to create a “Pollinator Pathway” through Norwalk to attract birds, bees and butterflies, of which Woodward Park is now a part.
Grevers, who is a native of the Netherlands, raised her kids in Westport and moved to Norwalk five years ago. She feels like it’s her duty to improve the community.
“When you move somewhere, you have to make it more beautiful than it was for the people who come after you,” Grevers said.
FactSet volunteers at Woodward Park on Friday in Norwalk.