Our 2018 Annual Newsletter

Dear Woodbridge Resident,

We hope you like our new look! We have been working in conjunction with Brad Collins of Group C Inc. in New Haven to redesign and refresh our look, both in this newsletter and on our website. We hope to make it more user-friendly and informational to keep you up to date with the goings-on in Woodbridge’s oldest and favorite park. 

This has been a busy year for the Woodbridge Park Association, caretakers of Alice Newton Street Park. We are celebrating our 90th anniversary and have events planned for early spring of 2019. In the last few months, we had our first ever trail run, and our always successful annual October Harvest Hike for schoolchildren which was organized by Jeff Kravetz. Finally, we made a sizable donation to the Land Trust towards the preservation of Baldwin Farm, one of the key land acquisition projects that Woodbridge has seen in many years in that it keeps a large parcel of land open and dedicated to agriculture.

Board member Tim Austin has labored extensively to upgrade the trail conditions at our sister property, Newton Road Park, which lies just east of ANSP, across Newton Road. Assisted in his efforts by the stalwart Amity Trail Runners, trails have been cleared, bridges built, signage restored and trail entrances at Hampton Road and behind Amity High School have been enhanced.

Despite all this activity, our plans for the future include substantial trail improvement, bridge building, and park-sponsored educational events. Using our beautiful trails and meadows, and becoming a part of the beautiful verdure that sits at the geographical center of our town and of the process that has tended this gem for nine decades, is our fervent hope and goal. To this end, we would love your support. Your donations are always appreciated and help our parks thrive.

WPA President, Jeff Gee

 

Inaugural Trail Run

In an effort to boost park visibility and welcome an athletic contingent, the Woodbridge Park Association staged out first-ever Trail Run event on the 21st of October. It drew 39 stalwart entrants who navigated 4 miles of trails on a 2-loop course which was designed by WPA Board member Jeff Kravetz (who finished 3rd!) Included were sections of gravel, dirt, and some highly technical areas of roots and rocks. The enthusiasm of the participants was hardly diminished by the arduousness of the terrain. 

The trails traversed included the main Blue Trail and sections of the Meadow, East and West Boundary Trails. The overall winners were Matt Santillo of New Haven and Kathy Jackson of Woodbridge. We were assisted in our preparations by Nate Case, who cleared trails of leaves and debris, and the Amity Trail Runners, led by Amity senior Sam Mahler, who marked our trails. Karen Kravetz manned the registration duties and assisted Tracy Wittreich in the refreshment division, aided by Rich and Deb Forselius. Timing and results were provided by Thom Jacobs of Paynes Corner Timing (pctiming) and awards were provided by former WPA president Chris Dickerson of the Woodbridge Running Company. 

Other sponsors included Joyce Printers, D’aniello Amity Bikes, Bethany Veterinarians, John Acosta Investments, The Red Barn of Woodbridge, Isabella Dodds, Woodbridge Hardware and the Blue Check Deli. In view of the enthusiasm shown, we hope the Trail Run can grow and be an annual event.

 

Meet our Board Members: Nate Case 

You will see Nate walking the trails just about every morning, trekking poles in hand, clearing fallen branches and repositioning bridges that have floated off their moorings during an overnight deluge. Or you may have observed him, trusty Stihl chainsaw in hand, cutting a fallen tree that either obstructs a trail or creates a hazard overhead.

Nate has been a Park Association Board member for the past decade, lending his forestry skills to keeping our trails open and safe for all to traverse. A Woodbridge resident since the early 1980’s, Nate is a 25-year member of the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Association. A retired schoolteacher with three grown children, and a veteran rower, he coaches crew at the Hopkins School and also works with Boy Scout Troop 907. Nate is a major reason that the trails at Alice Newton Street Park, as well as much of our other flora, allow hikers to experience the beauty of our park.

 

Emerald Ash Borer

In an effort to confront the destruction of ash trees by the invading Emerald Ash Borer – an insect which came to North America from China in the mid 90’s ensconced in wooden crates – the WPA has taken a measured, progressive approach.

All trees will mature, die and fall to the ground at some point, but what makes ash trees more problematic is that they become very brittle and the larger limbs will fall, usually during storms or high winds, but sometimes with little natural provocation. While Alice Newton Street Park (ANSP) has a low ratio of ash compared to other species, we attempted to identify those trees whose limbs might impact the hiking trails. We then walked the park with 2 arborists and UConn forestry professor, Tom Worsley.

They all concurred that we hire a forester – someone who would oversee any tree removal and ensure that the least number of diseased trees be removed. The problem here was that the teams doing the actual cutting generally want to harvest much more than just ash to defray the cost of their labors, greatly affecting the overall flora for a minimum of several years.

After interviewing several foresters, we decide to engage Jim Rossom of Bethany to perform the work. From an initial estimate of removing 100-200 trees, we were able to pare that down to 40 or so, with a few additional trees that Mike Walter, our Trailmaster, deemed necessary. Most of what was cut was removed by Jim, with small equipment, thus minimizing any adverse impact on the trails. We specifically exempted from this tree-removal a number of older, healthy, grand ash trees that we thought might survive.

To that end, we hired arborist Jim Dean from Hamden to inject the trees, inoculating them against the Borer. This method was preferred over drenching the area with insecticide, which would be absorbed through the ground, into the roots and up into the tree. The injection method keeps the insecticide in the tree and presents much less impact upon pollinators. Nine trees in all were selected for injection, and all seemed to be doing well as of this writing.

Lastly, in order to try and monitor the scope of the EAB invasion in the park, we ordered from Colorado traps & lures to catch some of the culprits (the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Colorado have been at the forefront of EAB research and preventative measures). Nate Case installed them this past summer but the results thus far have been inconclusive – only a few borers have been caught. We will repeat the process again with new lures next spring, when the borers are most active.

Our goal through all of this was to address the problem by learning as much as possible regarding our options for the trees. Through many conversations and much research, we arrived at a cost-effective and minimally disruptive program to effectively monitor and ensure safety on the trails in our park. 

 

ANSP in Autumn

The change in seasons has been swift, the rush from the last dregs of summer to fall always seem confounding. It’s not the color changes or the temperature relenting, not the leaves on the trails or the increased visibility with the diminishing verdure, it’s the quality of the light that heralds the most profound difference.

At the height of summer, when the sun is strongest and mostly overhead, trying to pound its way through the chlorophyll-laden leaves, the green light is suffused through the entire park (excepting some open spots such as the cedar grove). The dense canopy provides extraordinary cover, diminishing sightlines, and closing the walker into the lush surroundings.

This all changes in steady, intractable fashion as the cold creeps in through late September into October. The dry leaves whip around the sere landscape, and the sun, with earth speeding away from it’s perihelion, stretches its rays into the longer, redder and darker wavelengths; this is the light that transforms the park utterly.

The walker can now see the houses on the perimeter, but activity these days is scarce. The streams have been somewhat replenished by a few wet days which the clots of leaves attest to when the rushing waters carried them. The leaves crunch underfoot incessantly and the lesser paths are hard to navigate without occasionally checking the blazes on the trees. But especially in the early mornings and late afternoons, the light burnishes all, giving the park a last flight of warmth and golden hue, before the inevitable cold overtakes all.

This is the light of Edward Hopper, the painter, and the painterly aspect is profound. The long shadows and muted colors draw the walker deep into the park, rousing the squirrels along the way as they minister to their winter feeding. All seems quieter, stiller, even deader as the giant oaks, still with a few leaves, are more visible and lord over the surroundings. The uniqueness of the light at these times at the Alice Newton Street Memorial Park links us together with the arboreal tracts throughout New England as we head towards the holiday season and it’s inevitable blanketing of snow.

 

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