By Michael J. Caduto
With pride and gratitude Sustainable Woodstock announces a new stage of growth for the East End Park. Following a twelve-year effort during which dozens of Sustainable Woodstock’s East End Action Group (EEAG) volunteers worked with the Town, Village and State to move the old snow dump to an environmentally secure location, clean up the site, plant native flowers and edible plants and design and build a bold new community park—long-term stewardship of the East End Project is now moving to the Woodstock Community Trust as part of that organization’s expansive mission to improve the quality of life in Woodstock.
The East End Park Project transformed Woodstock’s primary public access to the Ottauquechee River into a valuable recreational facility for town residents and visitors alike. Park visitors looking north are treated to beautiful views of Billings Farm and Museum, Marsh-Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park and the distant hills—bucolic landscapes that evoke the conservation stewardship and agricultural legacies of George Perkins Marsh and Frederick Billings. The adjoining 3-mile Ottauquechee River Trail enhances the outdoor experience, enabling park visitors to become immersed in the natural beauty of this riparian environment.
Over time, the East End Park Project has rehabilitated a badly deteriorated parcel of prime riverside land and improved water quality in the Ottauquechee River. The project restored a floodplain and riparian buffer seriously damaged by Tropical Storm Irene—using native vegetation to increase soil stability, prevent erosion, filter runoff and reduce the volume and velocity of the river during flooding events in order to protect downstream properties.
By force of sheer dedication, tireless efforts, creativity, resourcefulness and fortitude, EEAG volunteers took a disused and overgrown brownfield site and reimagined it into a shining new recreation area for all to enjoy. Other partners who have made the park possible by their collaboration and support include many incredibly generous donors, community partners, the Town and Village of Woodstock, Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources and Dept. of Buildings and General Services, Connecticut River Conservancy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Boy Scout Troop 220 of Woodstock and numerous other organizations and individuals. EPA funding from Two Rivers-Ottauquechee-Regional Commission was used for initial brownfields assessment at the East End site, and Rita Seto, TRORC Senior Planner, helped the Town obtain and manage the funding for moving the snow dump.
As with all such endeavors that require long-term vision and commitment, the East End Park could not have been created without the perseverance of a core group of passionate and dedicated volunteer leaders, led by Barbara Barry, Mary MacVey, Jack Rossi and Joby Thompson. These individuals inspired others to surmount every obstacle that was encountered. Recent additions to the park include a permaculture garden and apple trees, slide, rock scramble, the Joby Thompson Labyrinth and a magnificent amphitheater and pergola.
Starting with the gestation of the East End Project (2009) and continuing through the construction of the East End Park (2018-2020), the total investment has been $683,785 (not including innumerable hours donated by volunteers, partners and Sustainable Woodstock staff). This figure includes generous funding from private donors and the Town of Woodstock, as well as grants from the State of Vermont, the federal government, foundations and other sources.
The East End Action Group’s vision—coupled with the inspiring generosity of private donors and foundations during a successful capital campaign—are why the park exists today. We cannot say enough how grateful and moved we are by the way in which supporters have shared their ideas, passion and resources to transform a vision into a vibrant space for nature and humankind to comingle. As an organization that conceives and develops projects and initiatives for the betterment of the environment and the public good, it has been Sustainable Woodstock’s honor to be entrusted with creating the East End Park. We are now pleased to transfer long-term care and management of the East End Project to the Woodstock Community Trust.
Dedication of Joby Thompson Labyrinth. Photo: Sustainable Woodstock
East End Clean Up. Photo: Sustainable Woodstock
East End Snow Dump. VT ANR photo
East End Park. Photo: Jack Rossi
Rain Garden Planting. Photo: Sustainable Woodstock