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Officials seek options to save park's flora

East Aurora village officials started becoming concerned about Hamlin Park a couple of years ago when some of the park's majestic old trees died and had to be taken down.

Some of the officials met with a few members of the public Tuesday to start plotting how to save the park from its own popularity.

"We want our park used; we don't want it empty," said Trustee Heidi Potenza. "But it gets to the point where enough is enough."

Many of the trees in the park, located between Grove and Sycamore streets a few blocks south of Main Street, have been "stressed" by the compacting of the soil around them, officials said. That makes it more difficult for the trees' roots to absorb water.

The park's grass also has suffered from almost constant use, particularly from use for events such as Toy Fest and a recent garden fair, residents said.

Even an Easter egg hunt, held when the ground is still mucky, can wreak havoc, said Trustee Patrick McDonnell.

Mayor David J. DiPietro said he wants to meet with the Village Board, town officials, a public works representative, code enforcement officers and members of the village's Tree Board before moving forward.

However, he said, an action plan would likely include revisions to applications to use the park, including the addition of a map so applicants could show what parts they would be using.

Other possibilities mentioned include fencing off a different part of the park every year to allow the flora to recover.

DiPietro said the village's forester had told him, "Just take a quadrant, allow no use in the park for that section for a year, and that'll bring [the trees] right back."

"We've all seen parks that had signs saying 'keep off the grass,' " said resident Peg Potter. "That's never been done at Hamlin Park, but maybe it needs to be in the 'Grove' area."

The Grove area is the wooded area at the north end of the park.

Other possibilities included limiting vehicles on parkland, making sure approved events live up to their permits and encouraging groups to use other village parks.

The Village Board is expected to pick up the issue at a work session Tuesday night.

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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