More park trees may be cut

Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2018

By Elizabeth Pattman

Staff writer

Tree clearing efforts by Smithfield VA Events at Windsor Castle Park have come to a standstill as funding has run out. The organization is now asking the town for some of its donated money back in order to cutting trees in the park.

Last month, Smithfield VA Events began clearing a section of trees adjacent to the newly constructed storage and maintenance buildings in Windsor Castle Park. Several trees in the area were dead, having been choked by English ivy, and were in danger of falling onto the new structures, according to Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Amy Novak. The area was also full of debris, including old ovens and other metal scrap, which was cleared out at the same time, according to Town Council member and SVAE President Randy Pack.

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In addition to clearing dead trees, the work is opening an area that can be used to accommodate more people at SVAE’s signature park events. Pack said the clearing will allow up to 200 more guests to attend each of the organization’s large festivals. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Pack said SVAE has since run out of funding for the project, but has not completed clearing the desired area. The organization is now asking the town to give back some of the money SVAE has donated over the years, so that the tree removal may continue.

“SVAE gets help with it because we can bring more people to our events. That’s why we’re willing to partner with the town to get that done,” Pack said. 

 “For the town, if it’s not maintained soon, we’re going to lose that whole area. It’s being overgrown really, really badly,” he said, metaphorically switching hats from SVAE President to Town Council member. “It’s also going to be more aesthetically pleasing because you’ll have a better view of the water.” 

Town Council members, including Mayor Carter Williams who is a “trail doctor” at the park and is familiar with the issues there, approved of the plan and passed it on to the June 5 meeting agenda for formal action. Pending the vote at that meeting, SVAE could be given up to $10,000 from their previous donations, which Pack said total close to $99,000, to continue clearing the area. Pack said he will excuse himself from the vote due to his position with SVAE.

Also discussed in committee was the potential to continue clearing land in that area, acre by acre, over the coming years. No action or proposals were made on this, but additional clearing may continue in the future.

Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Amy Novak said, when the project was first begun, that SVAE and the town will leave some of the wooded area along Cypress Creek intact so that wildlife will still have a place at the park.  {/mprestriction}