DIY Park, take two: Morristown residents add more ideas for Speedwell project

Town Planner Phil Abramson addresses residents at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Town Planner Phil Abramson addresses residents at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Town Planner Phil Abramson addresses residents at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Town Planner Phil Abramson addresses residents at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By Kevin Coughlin

Last month, ping pong tables, zigzag benches and gas fireplaces were all the rage.

Dog parks topped the wish list on Tuesday, at the second public workshop for a linear park proposed for the Modera 55 apartments in Morristown.

“We think there should be a dog run,” said Joni Gilton, a tenant at Modera 44.

Skate parks, vertical gardens, a farmers market, and “interactive water features” also got votes from residents at a town hall presentation by town Planner Phil Abramson.

He’s hoping the park will open in 2018 along with the 185-unit Modera 55, on the former site of the town public works garage and ambulance squad.  The developer, Mill Creek, has pledged $500,000, with a matching amount from the town, to create a greenway on a steeply sloped 0.75-acre strip bounded by Speedwell and Prospect Street.

Rendering of linear park proposed for the Modera 55 development off of Speedwell Avenue. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Rendering of linear park proposed for the Modera 55 development off of Speedwell Avenue. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Mill Creek has promised another $50,000 for an unspecified art project. Eventually, the town will assume responsibility for park maintenance.

Discussions so far have described a series of outdoor “rooms,” framed by slopes and trees, for passive recreational uses such as strolling, jogging and movie nights.

“They’re not addressing the winter,” said Nick Gileta, a King Street resident who thinks a sled run would be fun. He also wants vegetation that attracts colorful birds. “I’d rather have them than pigeons,” he said.

“They need to figure out its purpose before completing the design” of the park, said Jennifer Markas, who lives on Elm Street.

Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin

Town Planner Phil Abramson addresses residents at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Aran McNerney and Jennifer Markas talk with Topology planner Krzysztof Sadley and at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Former Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman and Mayor Tim Doughety at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Resident Nick Gileta chats with Topology planner Annie Hindenlang at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Councilman Bob Iannaccone and his son at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
DIY park worksheet at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Aerial view of future site of Modera 55 and linear park; Modera 44 is on left. Photo courtesy of Topology.
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20161213_193712-resized-800 - Town Planner Phil Abramson addresses residents at workshop for proposed Speedwell park. Photo by Kevin Coughlin, 12/13/16
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Her boyfriend, Aran McNerney, works across the street from the site at Headquarters Plaza. He is curious how architects will squeeze a park onto that topography. “That space is difficult to work with,” McNerney said.

Joe Torres of Altamont Court favors natural materials, such as slate quarried in the northeast.  Connor Taunton, Morristown High ’15, is lobbying for a “green infrastructure” — vegetation that absorbs parking lot runoff that otherwise would drain into storm sewers.

Smart design can prevent swampy conditions that attract mosquitoes, said Taunton, an architecture student at Auburn University.

Aerial view of future site of Modera 55 and linear park; Modera 44 is on left. Photo courtesy of Topology.
Aerial view of future site of Modera 55 and linear park; Modera 44 is on left. Photo courtesy of Topology.

Nobody has suggested that the town sell naming rights, stadium-style, for the property. Not yet, anyway. Names proposed by residents include Wiley’s Walk, for the late civic leader Steve Wiley; Tranquility Square, and–steady, now–Parky McParkFace.

Next comes the design phase, Abramson said. The town is negotiating with Ken Smith Workshop, the New York landscape architectural firm that devised the preliminary sketches.  Residents can expect updates, and give feedback, at town council meetings in the new year, Abramson said.

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. Are any of the parks going to have an area for young children? This is currently missing in central Morristown. Would be great to have swings, tricycles,, slides and the like

  2. The problem with the park location is that it is not visible from Early Street or Speedwell Avenue unless you look down an alley way.
    I appreciate Jeff’s comments but must agree with Virginia. Discovering how few remember the Harveys in a relatively short period of time, 20 years from now, few will remember who I was or what I did . Dot Harvey was the second generation of her family to live in her Mills Street home. and served her community for many more years than I have done.
    Since the park is most visible to those living in the Moderna Apartments, perhaps it should be called the Moderna Park. That complex will remain a visible presence in the neighborhood for many years to come.

  3. No matter what it is named, most people are probably going to call it the “Early Street Park.” The park on Abbett Avenue has a name, but very few people in town know it, and even fewer use it. I have a lot of respect for the Harveys and for Margret Brady, but I think a park name is most useful if it communicates to people and is recognizable to them. A plaque or a display within the park might recognize the contribution the Harveys made to that part of town.

  4. How about calling it “The margret brady Park,” after someone whose expert vision, love of Morristown, historical expertise, and guiding hand has been the only thing that keeps Morristown on the map!

  5. Margaret I think that is a thoughtful idea for the naming of the park! Last night we suggested something along the lines of Early Street Park but your suggestion honors the history of that area and of the town.

  6. Dorothy Gregory Harvey was born and raised on Early St,. raised her chldren in the house where she was born and dedicated her life to preserving Morristown with her husband the artist and illustrator merrill Harvey. The Timothy Mills house, the preservation of Burnham Park, the creation of Speedwell Village, the development of the Town-Township Library and the grow It Green garden are just some of the results of her efforts. She led protests and picket lines. taught children’s programs and donated countless hours of service as a volunteer for worthy causes throughout her lifetime, never leaving Morristown, her home. It would be nice to show Morristown’s appreciation for her efforts by naming the new park after her.

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