Millers Meadow idea would ‘completely transform’ Colrain Street lot in Greenfield

The former Wedgewood Gardens mobile home park on Colrain Street in Greenfield.

The former Wedgewood Gardens mobile home park on Colrain Street in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Nancy Hazard, a member of Greening Greenfield, hopes to plant approximately 600 native trees and shrubs along the slope behind her at the former Wedgewood Gardens mobile home park on Colrain Street in Greenfield.

Nancy Hazard, a member of Greening Greenfield, hopes to plant approximately 600 native trees and shrubs along the slope behind her at the former Wedgewood Gardens mobile home park on Colrain Street in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Nancy Hazard, a member of Greening Greenfield, hopes to plant approximately 600 native trees and shrubs along the slope behind her at the former Wedgewood Gardens mobile home park on Colrain Street in Greenfield.

Nancy Hazard, a member of Greening Greenfield, hopes to plant approximately 600 native trees and shrubs along the slope behind her at the former Wedgewood Gardens mobile home park on Colrain Street in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-22-2024 3:31 PM

GREENFIELD — The environmental nonprofit Greening Greenfield is seeking the city’s approval to plant a small forest and meadow along the perimeter of the former site of the Wedgewood Gardens mobile home park on Colrain Street.

If approved, the group will plant approximately 600 native trees and shrubs along the front slope of the lot, called Millers Meadow, in an effort to attract pollinators, like butterflies and bees, to the area, as well as mitigate air pollution.

“I can really imagine this completely transformed into this amazing habitat for people to enjoy,” Greening Greenfield member Nancy Hazard said. “Folks could come by and walk their dogs but they would be walking through pollinator meadows that would be really robust with insects and birds and all kinds of things.”

Partnering with landscape engineer Peter Wackernagel, Greening Greenfield will apply for funding through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant program to pay for the forest’s creation, which Wackernagel said is estimated to cost roughly $25,000. If the project receives approval from the Conservation Commission and the necessary MVP grant funding, Hazard said she hopes to engage local youths in a series of roughly six planting events on the slope.

Wackernagel said if the project receives approval from both the state and the Greenfield Conservation Commission, the volunteer force — likely to include Youth Climate Action of Franklin County — will likely be able to begin planting trees in September.

“Trees do a lot of things for the city. Their leaves collect the particulate matter that’s floating in the air. They also promote biodiversity, which I think is one of the biggest environmental impacts for this project,” Wackernagel explained. “The habitat that we’re creating is going to support a wide variety of species — the plants that we will start growing, as well as wildlife that will be supported by them, none of which is really supported there right now, with it being sort of a mowed lawn.”

The city-owned wetlands lot is currently overseen by the Conservation Commission. Its proximity to the Green River puts it at an increased risk of flooding during heavy rain. Hazard said that after the proposed tree planting, she hopes to dig a canal between the river and the lot, allowing flood waters to stream into a marsh area to mitigate the risk of a large-scale flood. In the future, she said she would also like to create a viewing platform to allow visitors a place to observe the Green River, but any additional revitalization plans will ultimately go before the public in their planning phases.

“We’re also dreaming about a viewing platform, so that you can actually sit there and see the river without all those invasive species in the way,” Hazard said. “[There is] a lot of knotweed and bittersweet, and some other things are over there, so we’re really looking forward to seeing it become part of nature again, and being a really beautiful place that people really want to come see.”

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The Conservation Commission will review the 1.65-acre Millers Meadow project at its next meeting on Tuesday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m. The commission last heard Hazard and Wackernagel’s proposal at its April 9 meeting. Commissioners voted to continue discussions until their next meeting to work out logistical details, such as Wackernagel and Hazard’s plan for the disposal of invasive species.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.