Bushes, bramble and vines surround the Westport Community Gardens. A volunteer group obtained permission from the Board of Selectwomen on Wednesday to remove invasive plants and replace them with native species. / Photo by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — People who use the Westport Community Gardens received the town’s blessing Wednesday to clean up surrounding overgrown areas.

The group, calling itself the Long Lots Preserve Steering Committee, wants to remove invasive, non-native weeds, vines and trees, and to replace them with native species.

The Board of Selectwomen voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a memorandum of understanding between the town and the committee. It previously was approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

A map showing the Long Lots Preserve and Westport Community Gardens.

“We’re just a group of volunteers who want to clean it up and put in some native trees,” said Joe Wiles. 

The community gardens are at 13 Hyde Lane, next door to Long Lots Elementary School.

The group wants to get rid of a variety of vines that can smother trees, as well as tree of heaven, which is the primary reproductive host for the invasive spotted lanternfly, the group notes.

Pollinator-friendly plantings also are planned.

Wiles said he understands the area might be needed for a new Long Lots school, or another town project, in the future.

“It’s your property,” he said.

“I think it’s terrific that are citizens in Westport, not only with the community garden and the work that’s been done there, but also see a need like this and word hard to address it, to make Westport a better place,” said Selectwoman Andrea Moore. 

Other business

Other items approved on the selectwomen’s lengthy agenda include:

  • The second annual Westport Pride Rally and Celebration will be held from noon to 4 p.m. June 12 on Jesup Green. The selectwomen gave permission to use the town-owned land for the LGBTQ+ event.
  • The annual jUNe Day celebration will return to Jesup Green on June 25. The selectwomen approved a request from the International Hospitality Committee and the United Nations of Southwest Connecticut to use the green from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • A contract for $355,000 to hire Langan CT to begin redesigning the Parker Harding, Jesup and Imperial Avenue parking lots. 
  • A contract for $202,000 to hire Tighe & Bond, Inc., to design a new bridge to carry Hillandale Road over Muddy Brook. The span was badly damaged by floodwaters after downpours in 2018, Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich said.

Thane Grauel is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Westport Journal. Learn more about us here.

The Board of Selectwomen met Wednesday morning in Town Hall. / Photo by Thane Grauel