Branch Brook Park to Hold Community Forum – Thurs, Feb 19

UPDATE: this meeting has been cancelled. Sorry for the late notice.

The Branch Brook Park Alliance will be hosting a public forum Thursday at 7pm to discuss development efforts in the city’s greatest park. See details after the jump.

“We are excited to share with the community news of the capital improvements made to the park and demonstrate how these improvements have increased the park’s usage and activity,” said Ms. Coleman. “The park belongs to all of us, so we want to keep our neighbors informed of what we have done, what we have planned, and how they can help preserve this community treasure.”

Branch Brook Park Alliance (BBPA) will hold an open information meeting on Thursday, February 19th from 7pm-9pm at the Essex County Welcome Center, approximately one-half mile north of the Heller Parkway entrance to the Branch Brook Park Extension). Barbara Bell Coleman, Co-Chair of BBPA, and Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. will greet interested residents and neighbors, introduce some of the people instrumental to the park’s on-going restoration and rejuvenation, and report on the status of recent and up-coming projects.

“We are excited to share with the community news of the capital improvements made to the park and demonstrate how these improvements have increased the park’s usage and activity,” said Ms. Coleman. “The park belongs to all of us, so we want to keep our neighbors informed of what we have done, what we have planned, and how they can help preserve this community treasure.”

Ms. Coleman and Mr. DiVincenzo will be joined by Faye Harwell and Brad Garner of Rhodeside & Harwell, the landscape architecture firm supervising a number of renovation projects in the Park; and Felix Rouse, Trustee of BBPA and also CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark, who will describe some of the events scheduled to take place in the park in the coming months. James Lecky, Vice Chair of BBPA, will take questions from attendees.

Mr. Lecky, a life-long Newark resident who has been involved with efforts to revitalize Branch Brook Park for over 25 years, has been named the new Executive Director of Branch Brook Park Alliance, effective this coming summer. Mr. Lecky will be stepping down as founding Director and President of the Delaware College of Art and Design, the first professional art and design school in Delaware and a catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Wilmington. An artist who has exhibited nationally and abroad, he has taught at Princeton University, the Graduate School of Figurative Art and Suffolk County Community College.

“We are holding this meeting to keep our friends and neighbors informed about the exciting new phase of development taking place in Branch Brook Park, the jewel in the crown of Essex County Parks system,” said Mr. Lecky. “A new era has begun, not only for the park and the people it serves but also for the state, the county and the City of Newark.”

Nearly four miles long and averaging just 1/4 mile wide, Branch Brook Park is a 360-acre greenspace shared by both Newark and adjacent Belleville. Created in 1895, it is the first county park in the United States and is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Designed largely by the Frederick Law Olmsted firm, the park was conceived as an oasis of pastoral serenity arcing through a lively and growing city. The shallow valley of the Branch Brook was envisioned as a place of hidden pools and shaded paths anchored by broad vistas — a place of respite from the noise and crowds of Newark.

Branch Brook Park has had a long and colorful history. Once humble cow pastures, the fields were enlisted in the 19th century to serve as a civil war training ground; during WWI and II, it hosted a tent city for recruits while US Postal Service bi-planes made rough landings on its airstrip. The Extension, acquired in the early 20’s, attracts thousands of visitors each April when its collection of Japanese flowering cherry trees, the largest in the country, bursts into bloom.

In partnership with the Essex County Department of Parks, under County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo’s leadership, BBPA has over the years raised millions of dollars; completed a Cultural Landscape Report (the roadmap of what should be done in the park); sponsored grass roots outreach initiatives; started a capital campaign and worked tirelessly to make Branch Brook Park “a democratic space where people from diverse backgrounds can meet on common ground, for the enjoyment of its neighbors, and visitors from around the world.”

To learn more about Branch Brook Park Alliance, go to http://www.branchbrookpark.org

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Newarker, PCA Elder, Business Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.

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