Time to Plan a Park

By Sally Miller

Everyone is invited – and your participation is needed!

That’s right: the East End Action Group is hosting a pizza party. This is a get-together with an important purpose: to gather all input that the public has for the uses and activities at Woodstock’s East End community park. The park has evolved over the last six years, so it’s time to formalize the long-term plan. While the size and layout of the park limit what might be accommodated, the East End Action Group wants to consider the complete “wish list” that you as residents have for your park. Input is important from everyone: families, singles, students, seniors… the whole community.

With the new snow dump constructed last fall at the other end of Maxham Meadow Way, this winter (if it ever ends) will be the last time for the Village to dump snow on the park site; ugly piles of snow and road debris will be a thing of the past.

It’s been a long process; the EEAG of Sustainable Woodstock started work on the park back in 2010. The group thought that cleaning up the village-owned site and making it an attractive destination for residents and visitors would help jump start development in that area of town. Locals called it the “Jungle” for a good reason as that’s where public works materials and equipment was stored to next to two dilapidated storage sheds hanging over the edge of the embankment. In 2011 the Village Trustees authorized Sustainable Woodstock to pursue converting the “Jungle” into a park with private funds.

Local residents work at an East End Park workday in Spring 2016.

Local residents work at an East End Park workday in Spring 2016.

The three acre town parcel was severely eroded during Tropical Storm Irene which resulted in a loss of over 1/3 acre of land, so the EEAG moved forward on a simplified plan for the park and relocating the snow dump. The park design included rain gardens installed at the lower level and an improved riparian buffer to filter storm water runoff and allow for public river access to the Ottauquechee River. The floodplain area now serves as green infrastructure protecting water quality and preserving floodplain function and flood storage as well as providing a community asset.

In March 2012 the Village Trustees designated the “Jungle” as a seasonal park, and in 2013 the EEAG leveraged community support to allow the Village to proceed with the land purchase of an alternative site for the snow dump. A 2014 Community Development Block Grant provided the funds to build the new dump.

To date Sustainable Woodstock has raised more than $75,000 to keep the park project moving forward, including

  • matching funds for two Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Ecosystem Restoration grants for building the rain garden, improving the riparian buffer, stabilizing the slope, and invasive species control,
  • $32,500 raised to help with the purchase of the new snow dump land and
  • the 10% match required for the $175,000 CDBG grant awarded by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Economic Development to create a new environmentally-friendly snow dump.

Support for the park project has come from many dedicated individuals, organizations and businesses, including the Woodstock Garden Club’s grants and donations of plants and labor, Chippers and Bartlett Tree Experts who helped with invasive removal and lawn maintenance, and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corp who planted the riparian buffer and raingardens.

Annual work days and gatherings at the East End have engaged residents to explore the possibilities and do hands-on work at the site. Even though delays prevented the relocation of the snow dump, volunteers continued to clean up the site and remove invasive plants helping to improve the area into a welcoming and usable recreational property. The Village also cleaned up the site and recently added a stone wall and posts on the upper portion as part of a state-funded Park and Ride grant. Further improvements on the parking area will happen this summer.

Jack Rossi, Landscape Architect, prepared the original park design in 2010 and revised it in 2013 and 2016. These schematic plans help illustrate some of the possibilities for the park, but now is the time to develop a more detailed plan. At the park planning party, we will look at specific areas of the park including river access, the lawn, the sloped bank and the east bank and beyond, and we will consider potential uses, plantings, furniture and other improvements.

Mary MacVey and Joby Thompson have been leading the project from the start. Many ideas have been brought forth over the years, but now is the time to get real, and they are very excited about this next phase. Mary and Joby ask everyone to “be thinking about the possibilities. We’ll ask your opinion about all of them.” If you can’t make it on the 29th, please send your comments to us at eastend@sustainablewoodstock.org.

Please RSVP so that we can plan for pizza – click here for the Eventbrite site or by phone at 457-2911 or by email at eastend@sustainablewoodstock.org! The event is on Wednesday, March 29 at 6:00 pm, Woodstock Town Hall (upstairs).

Just Do One Thing: Join us for the East End Park Planning Pizza Party

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