After a months-long restoration process, the New Haven Green has fully recovered from the damage done to it by the Elm City’s Occupy encampment.
The restoration process, which began within a week of Occupy’s eviction in April, required the city to completely replant the grass on the Upper Green, said Christy Hass, deputy director of the city’s parks department. The Green was reopened to the public in June after being roped off from the public to allow healthy grass to grow, she added, and the reopening was delayed until the grass had developed substantially.
Although the Green does suffer some damage from regular use, Hass said Occupy’s prolonged presence harmed it more than usual. She explained the Green is currently in “pretty good condition”, keep an eye out for Occupy’s long-term environmental effects to the soil and trees.
Chris Randall, executive director of the New Haven Land Trust, told the News that the Occupy movement not only “completely obliterated” the Green’s grass but also heavily damaged the root structures of the park’s trees.
“The trees weren’t really doing that well to begin with, but I’m sure it didn’t help to have all that weight [of the encampment] for that long a period of time on them, either,” he added.
City Hall spokesperson Elizabeth Benton ’04 said volunteers used air spades to loosen topsoil compaction around the trees and to avoid harming tree roots. In addition to aerating the soil, she said, the area also had to be fertilized and composted before grass seeds could be planted.
Though the city estimated it would take $25,000 to repair damage to the New Haven Green, Benton said donations from local groups, businesses and corporations helped reduce the municipal restoration costs to $4,000.
In addition to monetary assistance — including an $8,000 gift from the Proprietors of the New Haven Green, the Green’s legal owners — the city received machinery donations and manpower from contractors, she said. As a result, Benton added, the city only needed to supply grass seed and a few additional volunteers.
Members of the Occupy movement volunteered to donate both time and resources to reseeding the upper portions of the Green, but Benton said the city rejected their offer.
“This was not the kind of job that simply required grass seed — it required specialized knowledge to protect the Green and also the trees,” she said.
Randall said he thinks the city was successful in quickly restoring the Green to its former state, and the public area has already been used for several events since its reopening.
The Occupy New Haven movement began on Oct. 15 and was forcibly evicted by the city on April 18, by which time it had earned the status of the longest-lasting Occupy encampment in New England.