From the Maplewood Memorial Park Conservancy:
The Township of Maplewood and the Maplewood Memorial Park Conservancy signed a Partnership Agreement on April 17, formalizing an arrangement to work together to preserve, improve and maintain the town’s historic, landmarked park.
The Maplewood Memorial Park Conservancy grew out of a recommendation made in the 2014 Memorial Park Master Plan to consider a public/private stewardship of Memorial Park, which was designed in the 1920s by the renowned landscape architecture firms of the Olmsted Brothers and Brinley & Holbrook, and was for decades under the stewardship of noted horticulturalist Richard Walter. Modeled on groups such as the Central Park Conservancy and the Branch Brook Alliance, the organization became a nonprofit 501©3 corporation in 2017, forming a board of directors, electing officers, raising funds, and gaining more than 40 members.
The Township and the Conservancy have already had a successful year working together, among other initiatives restoring the park’s WWI Eight Elms Memorial, developing a tree replacement plan, and expanding a summer internship with Rutgers University that brings landscape architecture students to the park to do hands-on landscape maintenance and improvement, as well as design for park improvement projects. In 2017 the Conservancy worked with landscape architecture graduate student Jennifer Ryan to develop a re-landscaping project near Dunnell Road, based on original planting plans by the Olmsted Brothers firm. This project, Flagpole Hill, moved through approvals and funding last year.
Conservancy Chair Deborah Lyons thanked the Township Committee for its enthusiastic embrace of the Conservancy’s work, and noted in particular the guidance and support of Mayor DeLuca and Township Committeewoman Nancy Adams during their formation. She reported that the Conservancy was looking forward to continuing to work with the town in the coming year to break ground on Phase 1 of the Flagpole Hill project, and to launch a memorial tree program designed to ensure both replacement and maintenance of the park’s trees. Other initiatives include the continued development of the internship program, volunteer work days, events and public programs.