BY MICHAEL OLOHAN
OF NORTHERN VALLEY PRESS
HARRINGTON PARK, NEW JERSEY —— A beautifully landscaped outdoor space for sitting, eating, reading and maybe even learning—adjoining Harrington Park Public Library—is planned for 2019 or sooner if local volunteer fundraising efforts are successful.
Over the last few years, the borough’s Beautification Committee has raised over $8,000 to renovate the outdoor area—often used by students doing homework or waiting to be picked up by parents—into a fully landscaped and designed public space with benches and sitting areas,
The total beautification project is estimated to cost $75,000, said Borough Clerk Ann Bistritz. She said the Beautification Committee, chaired by Suellen Spillane, was reaching out to local businesses and organizations to raise funds for the project.
Ultimately, the committee hopes to turn the area into an “outdoor classroom” or “teaching park” according to a committee proposal.
The design for the area was developed as a pro bono contribution by Scott Greer, a local landscape designer with Greer Horticultural Services.
To begin renovating the area, the borough will soon install an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramp and sidewalks, courtesy of a $55,200 community development block grant it received.
Bistritz said the grant will only fund construction of ADA-compliant sidewalks likely for installation in spring. Once completed, Bistritz said an Eagle Scout project plans to install a patio reading area with benches and tables.
Later this year, the Environmental Commission is hoping to install a butterfly pollination garden. To complement the garden, the committee plans to add native and drought-resistant plants to the landscape.
“We had a vision for this park near the library. It’s an underused vacant grassy area. A lot of kids go to the library after school, and the idea was to take what’s going on in the library and bring it outdoors, weather permitting,” said Spillane.
“We wanted to create an area outdoors where children and adults can relax with a book,” Spillane said.
She said the renovated area could potentially be used as a community gathering area or for various public meetings that might be held outside.
She said the committee will continue fundraising efforts this year and several local organizations have made contributions, including Harrington Park’s 5K Run/Walk group. She said a local sculpture artist offered to donate two sculptures for the area.
The group has applied for an approximately $5,000 grant and is hoping for good news soon.
Spillane said the committee has been fundraising for three years and will continue to reach out to local businesses and organizations. She said the design should help local contributors “envision how we will make the space visually appealing” and accessible for public use.
“This area is used on a regular basis by local painters and library programs. There is a void of seating or designated spaces for organized events. If there was an organized area for classes and programs, and [low water] plantings, this space would be used on a larger scale,” states the group’s grant application.
If the project is completed, the outdoor “teaching park” could be used for community events/meetings including the Garden Club, Historical Society, Girl and Boy Scouts, Ecology Day, annual paper shredding event, ragamuffin parade, and yoga classes. The local Lions Club has pledged a clock for the area, said Spillane.
Individuals or businesses wishing to learn more or donate should contact Spillane or Bistritz. Both are members of the borough’s Beautification Committee.
Photo courtesy of Scott Greer, Greer Horticultural Services