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Athletic Fields Project Brings Down Central Park Trees

Commission official says the trees will be replanted and replaced.

Some Parsippany and Morris Plains residents who live near Morris County's Central Park near the Greystone Psychiatric Hospital facility were suprised to see county crews cutting down trees in the area last weekend.

Margo D. Beller, a Morris Plains resident and Patch blogger, said she regularly walks through the park and was alarmed by what she saw Saturday.

"Lately I've been seeing trees being chopped down on the edges of the state property within sight of the old administration building," she told Patch. "I heard yet more sawing this Saturday morning, and I drove over. Almost every single tree on the south side of Central Avenue between the old medical building and the administration building has been chopped down... and a mountain of mulch is growing."

Beller said she initially was concerned that new housing was to be erected on the property. Later, though, she said she realized it might be "more fields, etc."

Her second thought was correct, according to Morris County Parks Commission Executive Director David Helmer.

Helmer told Patch that an ongoing project to bring athletic fields to Central Park is continuing and that the second phase of recreation improvements to Central Park of Morris County—including artificial turf athletic fields, paved trail and parking areas—is underway. 

"In advance of this project a number of trees are being removed from the sit," he said. "There are about 104 trees being removed of various sizes, species, and nativity.  All of the trees will be made in to mulch and stored on site for use on the property or other areas of the park system as needed."

According to Helmer, of the trees being removed, 45 are invasive, 21 are non-native and 38 are native. 

"Forty are considered to be in poor condition," he said. "Most if not all of the trees were planted for ornamental purposes around the three large former state hospital buildings that were demolished over the last four years, and no trees are being removed from the forested tract of the property."

Helmer said an effort will be made to replant and replace the lost trees, per the Park Commission’s tree replacement procedure, which identifies that 684 trees are to be replanted for the removal of the 104 trees. 

"One hundred twenty-six trees have already been planted in the park in advance of the upcoming removal and the remaining trees will be planted on site or at various park facilities within proximity of Central Park," he said. "In addition, at least 100 oak seedlings are scheduled to be planted at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in 2013 as part of an REI- and Project Acorn-sponsored trails/Arbor Day event. 

"The remaining replacement trees will be planted throughout the course of the next two years."

Beller said she isn't impressed by the plan to install athletic improvements at Central Park.

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Helmer said he has not heard complaints from residents.

"Nothing has come to my office," he said. "Most of the regular and organized users of the park are aware of the project.  I had a staff person monitoring the tree removal project in the mornings and afternoons and nothing was formally brought to my attention."

Chris Jansen September 11, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Every tree provides shade, habitat, food, beauty, and is an incredibly efficient carbon sink. Not so for artificial grass.
Michelle Orlans Rosenfeld September 12, 2012 at 01:23 PM
If you saw or witnessed the parking situation last Saturday at FMS, you'll understand why Morris Township residents need more fields. FMS had the following going on at once: Jr. Colonials Flag Football, 9:00 and 10:30 Morris United Soccer Club Rec Games, Field Hockey practice, and makeup MUSC travel team practice. Parents trying to drop off their children were barred from entering Jane Way to drop them off. Police issued about 125 parking summons due to illegal parking. Residents who live on the side streets near FMS where parents were forced to park due to the FMS lot being blocked complained that their quality of life is being compromised. We desperately need more fields and more parking. There are well over 1,000 kids who play soccer alone and with Cornine Field being closed to the Jr. Colonials, we have to share the lot. We desperately need Greystone for fields. They are removing 104 trees but planting 684. Sounds like there will be MORE trees, not LESS.
Chris Jansen September 12, 2012 at 02:05 PM
It seems that every time I drive by athletic fields.... they are empty. I'm not sure they are doing everything possible to share fields or modify schedules before they apply the pave it over solution.
Al Krotoff September 25, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Yes, 684 trees vs. 104. Too bad the total weight of these 684 trees is probably 1/50 of the 104, and a quarter of them will die within a year of planting.
clyde donovan September 25, 2012 at 02:19 PM
If Morris Township needs more fields, bulldoze some trees in Washington Valley and let the Morris Township taxpayers pay for the field. Or is it a case of: No bulldozing trees in my backyard and my taxes are already outrageous in Morris Township. After coaching for years, you see that all parents want their kids to play at 10 a.m. so the parents' day isn't ruined. You can't build enough fields to meet the unrealistic expectations of the parents. They're playing high school football games on Friday nights so the parents' Saturdays aren't ruined. So now the taxpayers have to pay for expensive pro-style banks of lights and the cost of mainentance and electricity for about 40 kids in each high school..

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