Wilton Center will be home to many new trees

Don’t be surprised if the future seems somewhat shady around Wilton Center. It’s part of a tree improvement program, instituted by the Wilton’s Tree Committee.

“The town has long had a program that, if we had a problem tree, we were pretty good at taking them down, but we had no way to put them back,” Environmental Affairs Director Patricia Sesto said this week. “Wilton Center has the added complexity that the right of way is quite irregular.”

In some areas, the right of way stretches into the road, but the downtown tree plan acknowledges mixed ownership.

“The idea was to have a tree committee that could represent the town’s interest,” said Ms. Sesto, “then to work with property owners to get permission to put trees on their property. We recognize that there’s a lot of private trees that will serve a public function.”

Ms. Sesto added the committee aimed to educate the town about trees and their positive impact.

The types of trees to be planted are shade trees, such as maple and oak, and understory trees, an example of which is the flowering dogwood.

Safety is a large concern as well, according to Ms. Sesto.

“There has been plenty of places in Wilton Center where you’ve had the wrong tree in the wrong place,” she said. “We’re just trying to reverse that as the opportunities come up.”

In addition to keeping trees away from power lines, the weather is a major factor the committee is considering. The topic is especially hot right now, following Storm Sandy.

“ I don’t want people to be afraid of trees,” Ms. Sesto said. “The message that we’re trying to get out is maintenance. Don’t defer maintenance on your trees because that can lead to trouble.”

To raise awareness, the town several years ago received an America the Beautiful grant and partnered with private entities including Wilton Library. The grant was a partnership, and therefore the money will be matched, with the town splitting the cost.

Ms. Sesto explained that a lot of thought went into the process of determining what trees should be planted, and where. She walked Wilton Center with landscape architect Kate Throckmorton, and arborists Nick Lee and Lars Cherichetti.

Ms. Throckmorton is the chairman of the tree committee, and Mr. Lee is a member.

The committee is looking to add more trees to Wilton Center, with approximately six slots left. Trees that were in poor health were removed, opening places for new ones.

Individuals may sponsor a shade tree for a donation of $500. Sponsorship of flowering trees such as dogwood or shadblow costs $300.

The cost of sponsorship includes the tree, planting, maintenance and a marker identifying the tree and person in whose name it was given. Sites are also available for sponsorship of benches at a cost of $1,600. The bench sponsorship includes the cost and installation of the bench together with a memorial plaque.

For more information about donating a tree or bench, call the Environmental Affairs Office at 203-563-0180 or visit the tree committee website at wiltonct.org/departments/environmental/tree.html.