Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 52
 
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
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Harrison Street Park Rehabilitation Involves Borough, Neighbors

Dilshanie Perera

Discussions about the rehabilitation of Harrison Street Park have been ongoing, and have involved members of Borough Council and staff; neighbors, including the group Harrison Street Park Friends; and Edgewater Design LLC, a Millburn-based firm.

A recent meeting about the park brings the Borough closer to finalizing the design plans, which means that construction may begin by April of next year. Borough Council member and President of the Princeton Parks Alliance Andrew Koontz mentioned that “the Borough has had Harrison Street Park on their to-do list for quite a while,” adding that the “planning process has never come as far as it has now.”

Friends of Princeton Open Space naturalist Steve Hiltner was hired by the Borough in 2006 to do an ecological assessment and stewardship plan for the park, which included a look at water flow and drainage, and types of plant species that were present or missing.

Describing the initial part of the design process with landscape architectural firm Edgewater as frustrating because their vision did not align with that of the neighbors, Mr. Hiltner observed that meetings between Borough staff and neighbors over the summer had led to a working agreement.

Borough engineer Christopher Budzinski characterized the December meeting between the design firm, staff, and public as having a positive general outcome, and achieving “the consensus needed to move forward with these plans,” though he admitted some fine-tuning needs to be done.

The preliminary estimate for the park’s complete rehabilitation, including all of the suggested design elements, totals $822,465. Mr. Budzinski noted that once the plans are finalized and approved by Borough Council, the work would be contracted out utilizing the Borough’s normal bid process.

Mr. Koontz anticipated that the rehabilitation would occur in a few phases, and as funding comes in from the Borough and Recreation Department, each phase of the project could commence, thereby adding more elements.

“I think we’ll be on target to start taking care of the drainage issues of the park in the spring,” Mr. Koontz said, adding that he’s “very much looking forward to breaking ground,” since it has “taken years to get to that point.”

An on-site meeting between the various entities including neighbors, staff, and consultants will occur in early January to finalize the plans, Mr. Hiltner remarked. He lauded neighbor Clifford Zink, who “led an effort to plant portions of the park with native wildflowers” in an envrionmentally-friendly manner, as “one planting utilizes runoff entering the park” and affords “a progression of blooms throughout the summer.”

The most recent plans for the Harrison Street Park rehabilitation and the new designs can be found on the Borough’s website at www.princetonboro.org.

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