MAPLEWOOD, NJ — On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the Maplewood Memorial Park Conservancy held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Maplewood Post 10120 VFW at the restored Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Memorial Park. The restoration was a project of the conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the care and improvement of the historic park, in partnership with the township of Maplewood. Plantings were installed by conservancy volunteers under the direction of landscape designer Jennifer Ryan, and planting material was funded by the Maplewood VFW, with other donations from the conservancy and Maplewood Garden Club.
The beautiful and contemplative seating area under the pines at the corner of Baker and Valley streets was originally created by former Parks and Shade Trees supervisor Todd Lamm in 2011, as a tribute to the Maplewoodians who served, as he did, in the Vietnam War, and particularly four who gave their lives: Robert W. Andreasen, Russell Cornish, Michael Lawrence and Gregory McIntyre. A quote by Gen. Douglas MacArthur on the dedication plaque reads: “The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
In the years since, the landscaping around the area had declined and, in the summer of 2018, Ryan led conservancy interns Greta Donato, Hyun Kyung Kim and Abdullah Nasir in a design project to restore and enhance the area with a mix of trees, flowering shrubs and hardy perennials. After the project was approved by the local Historic Preservation Commission and the NJ Historic Preservation Office, John Kaufman and the members of the Maplewood VFW stepped up to support it.
To complete the restoration, the help of the Maplewood DPW, who prepared the site, brought in the heavy equipment, and contributed the soil amendments and a tree, was invaluable. Conservancy volunteers Lara Tomlin, David Nial, Gary Nelson, Deborah Lyons, Shannon Perry, Karen Shelby and Scott Cooper executed Ryan’s design.
“Jennifer not only led the design on this project, sourced all the material and helped shepherd the restoration through approvals — she also transported all the plants to the site in her car,” conservancy Chairperson Deborah Lyons said. “As with our earlier Flagpole Hill landscape restoration, her improvements to the park will be seen for years to come. The conservancy is so gratified to continue our partnership with the township, the DPW and with other community groups, such as the Maplewood VFW and Garden Club, to improve our beloved and historic park.”
To find out more about the Maplewood Memorial Park Conservancy, follow them on Facebook and Instagram, or get information, sign up to donate or volunteer by visiting their website at www.maplewoodmemorialparkconservancy.org.
Photos Courtesy of Deborah Lyons