Park Trails Named

Update from Mike G:

See the map below – all the park trails are officially named!  Most of the paths are named after the Pleasureland owners’ families.  The one exception is Parete Path, which is named after Carmine Parete, one of the names we voted upon during the park naming contest.
NOTE: Carmine’s name is spelled wrong on this diagram but was corrected for the record and will be posted correctly on the park trail signs.
This is only the start.  As the park develops there will be more honors and more things named after people, events etc.  Stay up to date here or on facebook as we continue shaping the park…
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Great Clean-up of 2015

Make the park a fun place for all again! Register for the Great Clean-up on April 25th…

Cleanup 2015 Great Oak Park

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2015 – What’s Next for Great Oak Park in Year Four

Great White Oak in winter

Great White Oak In Winter (Photo courtesy of Jim Folkerts)

The first two years were all about discussion and planning.  In our third year we celebrated banner achievements as visible progress finally took place.  The plan is to be just as productive this year while we move forward and officially open the park to make it a useable, enjoyable and lasting place for generations to come.

The big question is “How can I get to the park?”  There is no street parking, and only two small driveways which end with locked gates.  The good news is there will be parking on the property this spring!  With a little smoothing of the large cleared area located just off Doty Rd, parking will finally become a reality.   We estimate there to be room for around 100 cars.

At the last park meeting we began planning for the 2015 “Great Clean-Up” of Great Oak Park.  This year we will ask people to sign-up for specific projects, either to clean and bag certain areas of the park or remove debris from the brook.  It has been almost a year since the stream was corrected and maintenance is extremely important.  We need to constantly remove garbage, downed branches and other water flow obstructions, which are paramount in keeping Little Pond Brook a thriving stream.  Look for cleanup information to be announced in late March for an April 25th park cleanup date.

The great white oak tree, which has begun its maintenance schedule will become a welcome area for visitors to rest under its umbrella and marvel at its majesty.  People are encouraged to take photos of the tree, and do so yearly for the next 5 years.  You will see something magnificent take place as Sav-A-Tree rehabilitates this once neglected oak.  The town is fortunate again to enjoy the help of the local boy scouts.  An Oakland scout will enhance the beauty around the tree for his Eagle Scout project; whether it is benches, signage etc., we know it will be a huge enhancement to the park.

While joining us for the cleanup in April, take notice of the miniature golf course.  This one time playground will undergo a rehabilitation process that respects its history while bringing it back as a little enjoyable corner of the park.  Observe its appearance in April, and then check again at the end of the summer to see what it looks like.  We are hoping that one time soon people may enjoy and play on the old Muller’s Park’s greens.

While restoring the park we have had the privilege of receiving dozens of bird, bat and owl houses.  These future wildlife homes have been securely stored waiting to be placed around the park.  During this rehabilitation process, we plan on using only a few of the 40 acres of the park.  The other 35+ acres will remain in its natural state so the wildlife can remain on the property and hopefully new animal and plant species can return.  Great Oak Park is located right on the riverbanks, and a small oasis just behind RVR.  It is the perfect place for people and nature to live and play together.

The final yet BIG plan for the park this year is our anticipation to hear from the NJDEP, although not until the late fall or early winter.  A final proposal of plans and ideas will be sent to the agency. We expect them to return to the park to see what we are looking to do and should get a response on “what is and what isn’t” allowed in the park.  From day 1, the borough has done everything to the letter of the DEP law, and have not deviated one iota.   This welcome invitation to the NJDEP will help us move forward and plan for 2016 and beyond.

The Great Oak Park project has brought on a lot of excitement in Oakland.  Many are looking forward to either walking the trails, observing the local habitat or fishing in the Ramapo; while even more are hoping for a skate park, looking forward to a great lawn and band shell and keeping their fingers crossed for a dog park.  Whatever people would like to see, the entire project has been an inclusive venture where one person, team or idea has not dictated the conversation.  The hopes remain today, just as they did in 2012 that there will be something for everyone in Great Oak Park.

Please remember that anyone is invited to our Park Committee meetings, we welcome everyone who wishes to observe or join the conversation to attend.  Now lets roll up our sleeves and get back to work!

Mike Guadagnino

Chairman

Great Oak Park Committee

@MGuad27

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Mini-Golf Course Found!

Read this article from the Oakland Journal on Monday about the mini-golf course “find”. Contact Mike G or Bill W for details on helping!

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Volunteer Day – Thank You!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to the Gerrard Berman Day School for their volunteer efforts on November 2nd.   As part of their Mitzvah Day, they chose Great Oak Park as a venture to clean and beautify.

Gerrard Berman Day School Volunteers

The park’s renaissance has been led by volunteer work, donations and fundraising efforts since the idea to create a park was born in 2012.  On Sunday all of Oakland’s residents were the beneficiaries as the students, administrators and parents donned heavy coats and gloves to clean up the park.

The Gerrard Berman Day School borders the north side of the park, and what a better way to enjoy the day than to have our neighbors chip-in and help in the rehabilitation.  The Park Committee and everyone who will be enjoying the park say Thank you once again!

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2014 – A Summer of Progress!

It has been 26 years since its abandonment, 15 years of negative sensational internet posts and 2 years of formal planning, but now the park is finally beginning to shape up.

A lot of hard work has been going into the project all led by volunteers, donations and elbow grease. Back in April we saw nearly 50 people walking around the park with garbage bags, gloves and lots of trash.  The “Great Clean-Up of Great Oak Park” took place on Earth Day.  This was the first real organized event to occur on the property since the glory days of Pleasureland.   A day of cleanup helped set the stage for the rest of the progress that continued over the next several months.

On an early summer-like Saturday morning in June, another 30 people began the process of fixing the C-1 stream “Little Pond Brook”. The stream was clogged with debris, blocked by fallen trees and branches and had a 30-foot section of its north side bank destroyed by years of neglect.  The group of volunteers got wet and dirty but in the end restored the stream to its 1970’s glory.  These were one of the most important steps both ecologically as well as strategically in bringing the park back to life.

As the summer moved on other volunteers and landscape companies cleared the walking trails as well as removed dead trees, downed trees and dangling branches. The covered-over blacktop was exposed and identified for either future use or future removal.   Meetings took place with emergency services to identify the needs in keeping the land safe for future park goers; and a new sign was raised above Ramapo Valley Road to let everyone know that the park is ready for business.   The property looks nothing like it did in 2013, and resembles nothing that those previously mentioned internet trolls have posted about the 40 acres of land.

While the fall moves on to winter a couple more projects will either commence or be completed, including the cleaning up of the Doty Rd park entrance with a new sign, another cleanup day, major fundraising efforts and the start of preserving the great oak tree.   Over the off-season we hope to engage the NJDEP so the committee can identify what “phase II” projects may be permitted.  Right now the Park Committee’s biggest obstacle is requesting DEP approval for parking on the property.  Over 200 parking spots have been identified in two parking lots, but without the DEP’s positive response, these spots remain empty.

The numbers of volunteers who have rolled up their sleeves and have helped with the transformation have been astounding. I have always said Oakland’s greatest resource is its volunteers; if anyone doubts it just walk the park and see all the volunteer work that has been completed.  We look for more progress as the calendar turns to 2015 and beyond.

Mike Guadagnino,

Chairman

Oakland Park Committee

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Artifacts Found In Great Oak Park

The following was an article published in September by NorthJersey.com.  We wanted to share it here to keep all things about the park in one place. Read about the finds in Great Oak Park HERE.

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