Many Woodbridge residents enjoy the Fitzgerald Tract, with its charming mix of small scale farming, organic garden plots, undisturbed woods, and numerous walking paths. I ask that you focus more attention on this valuable open space.
A few months ago Town employees destroyed extensive areas of brush in the eastern field and pushed the subsequent wooded debris to the edge of the expanded field. This action destroyed wildlife habitat and left ugly debris piles that remain visible today. While I have great respect for the Town crew, I can’t fathom why this work was undertaken. The Town should remove the debris once the nesting season has ended, and develop a stewardship plan to ensure the thoughtful maintenance of the Tract going forward.
The hazard of partially-downed or damaged trees along the blue trail has remained in place for several months. New tree hazards along the expanded eastern field need to be addressed as well. Similarly, the Fitzgerald stone pathways need more attention, as the stone surface has worn thin or nonexistent in many places. All of these concerns should be addressed promptly, and better attention built into the new stewardship plan.
I have also noticed that benches and other memorials such as a rose garden are cropping up on the Fitzgerald Tract without any plan for regulating the number, placement, or design of such memorials. Further, how does the placement of a memorial match the Town’s charter requirements regarding the lease of Town land for more than one year? I urge you to develop a policy that limits memorials, sets criteria for their placement and design, and ensures that every memorial complies with Town charter requirements.
Finally, I ask that you recognize the serious risk of injury to walkers, runners, and bikers that the Town is inviting when the Town allows hockey to be played on the ice skating area. Indeed, the risks are heightened when, as happened yesterday, the town allows “roller blade” hockey during warm weather. Many people walk the Fitzgerald pathways, especially on nice days and even in the dead of winter. Their safe enjoyment is simply incompatible with hockey played in such close proximity to the Tract’s main access road and parking lot. If the Town wants to allow hockey, it should find a new, safer location for playing the game.
Please work with the Town crew and interested volunteers to take better care of the Fitzgerald Tract, for the benefit of the many, many residents who have, who do, and who will enjoy this precious parcel of town-owned land.
Editor’s note: Amy Marrella is a former first selectman of Woodbridge.