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PHOTOS: Maplewood Memorial Park Conservancy Completes Flagpole Hill Restoration

The Maplewood Memorial Park Conservancy completed its first major renovation project last week, and celebrated with a post on its Facebook page.

“And, it’s a wrap! The completion of our first landscape restoration project, Flagpole Hill, is a major milestone for the Conservancy. After two years of design, planning, pitching, approvals, fundraising, and digging in the dirt, the final trees and shrubs went in the ground this week, and we couldn’t be more proud and excited.”

The Conservancy completed phase one of the 4-phase project last fall. Flagpole Hill entails the area of the park across from the Maplewood Train Station  on Dunnell Road and at the top of the natural amphitheater where major events like Maplewoodstock and Pride Fest take place.

The project was designed and developed by Jennifer C. Ryan, Rutgers Landscape Architecture graduate intern, “with the goal of creating a plan, appropriate to twenty-first century uses and climate, that remains true to the picturesque Olmsted vision.” The original 1923 design of the park is by the legendary Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm. The project entails: “Beautifully planted beds of shrubs, trees, and ground cover [to] allow views and circulation into the park and clarify entrances while providing shield from the roadway. Seasonal beauty, interest to wildlife, and adaptability to the site also guided the design.”

The cost for the project should total around $35-36,000, funded by the Maplewood Open Space Trust Fund. That includes labor (for Phases 1-3), plant material and irrigation, with a few miscellaneous costs still pending. According to Conservancy Board of Directors Chair Deborah Lyons, “We actually came in under budget.”

The recent Conservancy Facebook post commemorating the completion of the project read:

“There are many people to thank, including the Township of Maplewood, DPW [Department of Public Works], Engineering, Administration, and Township Committee, the Historic Preservation Commission, our board, volunteers and members, and for making this dream come true, the Maplewood Open Space Trust Fund. Perhaps chief among them is Landscape Consultant Jennifer C. Ryan, who designed this beautiful plan and made a lasting contribution to our historic park. Thanks too to Birch Hill Landscaping, for their care and expertise in installation, and to our summer interns and hearty board members who installed Phase 4. Please visit and let us know what you think!”

Lyons told Village Green, “We couldn’t be more pleased at how it looks! After two years of lots of work, it’s so rewarding to actually see it. I was at the site today and a commuter told me the thing he loved about it was that it fits in so well with the rest of the park and looks like it was always there, so natural. That really made me feel that we had accomplished our goal.”

But what about the upcoming two-day Maplewoodstock festival? Will the project be protected from the crowds?

“I’ve been in close contact with Maplewoodstock since the project was approved,” said Lyons. “I’ve met with them a few times over this past year, and we marked out the site in advance of planting and walked it with them so that they could map out their vendor sites around the area. The DPW will fence off the beds to protect them for the event. One of the goals we set out was to modify the original planting plan to adapt it to modern uses and climate, so we have made sure that the configuration of the beds allows for circulation and access.”

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