Binney Park or Binney Fortress?

Binney Park Master Plan will create a “Strong Edge” to block our view of the park

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The “Strong Edge”

The Binney Park Master Plan calls for a “Strong Edge” to visually separate the park interior from the rest of the community - we won’t be able to see into the park when we are on Sound Beach Avenue. The Plan never specifically mentions this goal (it never mentions the outside community at all), but a close reading of the plan makes it clear that this is the primary effect of the planting plan. Basically - the Plan assumes that we want this.

The Plan calls for the existing shrub masses to be removed and replaced with tall evergreen trees with smaller trees between them, which will make the road and the park invisible to each other. The plan will double the number of trees between Binney Park and Sound Beach Avenue.

Is This What We Want?

Do we want to be blocked off from Binney Park unless we are actually in the park? Do we want to change the park from an outward facing integral part of our community to a sequestered area that can only be accessed through designated entrances? Do we want the west side of Sound Beach Avenue to be a wall of trees?

I love being able to see the park when I walk or drive by, as I have been doing for over 25 years. Like most residents, I spend a lot more time passing by than actually in it. I know that we could create a design compromise that enhances the view from within the park while allowing the park to enhance the view we all see everyday.

The Details

I have poured over the Plan. As I mentioned, it does not refer to how it will affect the views of the park at all. It also doesn’t define ‘strong edge’ or specifically state that it wants to surround the park, but every roadside planting recommendation involves tall, thickly planted trees which will make a virtual wall preventing passersby from seeing the park.

The Plan divides the park into Areas, and the recommendations for each Area that includes a street border has a reference to this edge:

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Area 5 (Wesskum Wood Road) refers to the crabapple trees' scale as being "inconsistent with the park's character" which is not defined up to this point. It recommends replacing them with tall, wide, evergreen trees that will block the view.

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Area 6 (between the pond and Sound Beach Avenue) recommends "new plantings to for a strong street edge" and to "plant behind the tall trees with flowering trees" The inevitable effect of this planting is to block Sound Beach Avenue's view of the park.

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Area 7 makes similar "strong street edge" recommendations for the area between the pond and Arch Street.

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Area 11 (park entrances) this emphasis and the recommendations are much more consistent with a secluded, closed off park than one that is as open to the community as Binney Park is.

The other clue to the importance of the tree fortress is that these areas that implement the Strong Edge are given the highest priority. Creating this wall is one of the main points of the Plan.