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."