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