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!
Great Oak Park Committee