Flash back to Aug. 6, 2012. The weather wasn't overly warm for the summer month but nonetheless, residents and business owners were champing at the bit when the town was plunged into darkness—in the early morning.
The aftermath of a powerful series of overnight thunderstorms included a black locust posited atop major power transmission lines along the Metro-North corridor in Riverside. As Connecticut Light & Power and Metro-North crews surveyed their options to remove the tree, the 85-foot monster yielded to the forces of Mother Nature. It fell, taking out the transmission line which fed power from CL&P's substation in Stamford's West Side to the railroad and all of Greenwich.
Emergency officials declared a state of emergency.
Ninety-nine percent of the town was powerless. Stores and businesses closed, as did Town Hall. Greenwich Hospital had to rely upon a generator to keep operations going.
To avert a repeat of that calamity, the utility and railroad, along with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, have begun a tree trimming and removal program along the railroad corridor. And the program has the endorsement of Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei.
"We know all too well the impact of the power outage ... the liabilities—the loss wages, commerce and resources," Tesei said. Tesei and representatives of the three major parties and the town's tree warden, Bruce Spaman, have been meeting in recent weeks to map out the tree-trimming plan along the power grid corridor from the western edge of Stamford into Greenwich, via Old Greenwich and Riverside.
"This is not clear-cutting," Tesei explained. He said crews are surveying trees along the right of way as well as on properties abutting the rail corridor. Trees within 70 feet of the right of way will be targeted for removal, Tesei said.
"They will be notifying residents of trees that are identified" as potential problems, Tesei said. He also said there are some "encroachment issues … there is some property that has been claimed and used by residents, but it is not their property but the property of the state and the railroad. They will work through those issues."
The utility and the railroad want to begin the work which is expected to start within the week, "while the ground is still hard. They have to bring in heavy equipment" and it's best done while the ground is frozen, Tesei said.