Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve
2012 Honor Award for Municipal/Public Spaces
Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
“We would like to build a park here.” These words started our six-year collaborative effort with the Town of Westport’s Parks and Recreation Department that culminated in the dedication of Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve in October 2010.
The 0.8 acre property had long stood empty – a compacted gravel and asphalt driveway covered most of its land area. Overlooking the estuarine embayment of Sherwood Mill Pond, the site had long been a part of Westport life. For much of the 20th century, it was the site of Allen’s Clam House, a beloved Westport establishment. The property was purchased by the Town in 1997 and the restaurant building was torn down in 2004. In 2009, our firm was brought in to study the possibility of creating the park.
The project presented many challenges both physically and administratively. A large portion of the site is within the tidal wetlands and the entire site is subject to periodic flooding. Given these difficult characteristics and the biological and aesthetic richness of the adjacent landscape, we developed a design that would allow visitors to enjoy the park, cause minimal disturbance to the fragile natural systems and require little maintenance.
We studied the natural flora of the adjacent properties on the Mill Pond to determine the species that would grow at each level of the tidal garden. Species include High Tide Bush, Spike Grass, Black Grass, Switch Grass, Seaside Goldenrod, and Salt Hay Grass. Upland areas were planted with native, salt-tolerant species such as Inkberry, Winterberry, Shadblow, Bayberry, Clethra, Viburnum, Black-eyed Susan and Little Bluestem. Today the plants have naturalized over the site.