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National Walk To A Park Day

By Alexis Eades

Parks are an integral part of our communities. They enable families and children to play in a safe place and communities to come together for sports and celebrations. They encourage health-promoting behaviors such as getting fresh air and exercise. This Sunday, October 10, is National Walk to a Park Day.  Our firm has worked on a number of parks. So, in honor of this Day, we thought we’d highlight a few!

Veteran’s Memorial Park

In 2018 and in the Town of Plattekill, NY, Colliers Engineering & Design developed the conceptual plan for a Veteran’s Memorial Park for the town’s Veteran’s Committee. We decided to develop approximately one acre of Town property into a Memorial Park for war veterans of all branches of the military. We estimated a construction cost  for the committee. This estimate assisted in securing grant funds for the project. Our overall services included Landscape Architecture and Civil Engineering.

The completed Veteran’s Memorial Park has many areas. It has a main gathering area with a monument. There is a parking and drop-off area, and a public service area. There are bench seating areas and a fountain. We used native and aesthetic plant materials, and decorative stone walls. Today, the park is a tribute to veterans. It is also a safe, aesthetically attractive gathering place for community members.

Green Acres Park

In 2019, we worked with the City of Elizabeth, NJ to create Green Acres Park. This urban park is located on a thin flag lot within a dense residential area.  It was previously underutilized because the narrow entrance was unintentionally hidden between two homes.

Now, a grand entrance welcomes visitors into a new, multigenerational park complex. The park now has many new features. One is a space-themed spray park. Another new feature is impression swings. These allow parents and children to swing at the same time.

The park also now has a 6-rim basketball court with extra space for foursquare and hopscotch. It also has a passive walking path that wraps around the park. The path has adult exercise stations along the way. Other features include centrifugal force play equipment, security cameras, rain gardens, and a 44-foot gazebo. The Green Acres Park is now an integral part of Elizabeth.

Foote’s Pond Park

Most recently, we’ve worked on Foote’s Pond Park in Morristown, NJ. Foote’s Pond Wood is a 25-acre natural passive public park richly embedded in the history of the Town of Morristown. Originally part of the 125-acre estate of John T. Foote, a prominent businessman, his family graciously donated the land to the Town in 1942 to preserve its natural beauty. Over 150 years in the making, on land passed down through a family intent on preserving its natural beauty for all to enjoy, Foote’s Pond was the crown jewel of the park.

Located adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, this accessible park supports a rich, diverse plant and animal community with several habitats including open water bordering on wetlands and woods.  In the pond, a problem arose. After many years, sediment and vegetative debris settled in the bottom. This slowly degraded the pond’s health and ability to support wildlife. The pond’s original depth off 4 feet was down to 12 inches.

The Town wanted to remedy this. It was determined that a dredging operation was far too expensive, and too invasive to the eco-habitats and construction staging within the community. Working with the Town as a project consultant, we deployed hydro-raking instead of dredging. This process enables the operator to be more selective in which materials are removed as a holistic means of improving the water quality and ecology. We therefore disturbed less of the associated wildlife habitats in and around the pond. This process ultimately reclaimed 22,000 SF of water surface area creating a total of 80,000 SF.

Small Park, Big Impact

The transformation of this pond is significant, offering respite to visitors and residents alike. Local schools utilize the space for science projects. Because native vegetation was left largely intact within the park, it will continue to invite wildlife into the habitat offered by the pond. Now that the pond has been restored, it will be easier to manage going forward while providing a beautiful visual access for the Town’s people. Native vegetation has been encouraged, invasive species are regularly removed, and the pond provides a habitat for native plants, herons, egrets and other birds, turtles, fish, frogs, and butterflies. There are accessible trails along the pond including 3 pedestrian foot bridges, benches, wayfinding signage and a dock on the pond that enables visitors to immerse themselves into the full effect of their surroundings.

The Town saved time, money, and natural resources by opting to use hydro-raking over dredging. It saved taxpayers over a million dollars, negated the need for permitting, and had a lower impact on the Pond’s ecology. And, it set the municipality up for more manageable maintenance in the future.

Parks, big or small, have impacts. Walk to a Park today!

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