Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 37
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
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Council Ties Loose Ends in Harrison Street Park

Dilshanie Perera

In an extended discussion with the neighbors and other Friends of Harrison Street Park last week, Borough Council, staff, and residents ironed out the final details for park maintenance and completion.

Council President Andrew Koontz characterized the park renovation as “very exciting from start to finish,” and “hours and hours of hard work.”

Park advocates, users, volunteers, and neighbors had shouldered the burden of watering the new plantings over the summer, and will continue to do so during temperate months in the coming year.

Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi summed up the park expenses, reporting that while the contract price was $485,500, the final cost is $479,665, leaving a balance of $5,835.

A “punch list” of final items to be repaired or enacted by the contractor, J.L. Landscape Construction, Inc., had been enumerated by both Borough staff, the design architects Edgewater Design, and neighbors, and most items, including general site work and replacing damaged plantings, were mutually agreed upon.

“We’ll be getting the punch list items completed beginning in the next three weeks or so,” Mr. Bruschi estimated.

A maintenance bond and warranty will be in effect until July 1, 2011. “It covers everything installed in the park,” explained then-Borough Engineer, the late Chris Budzinski.

Items that the Borough and neighbors disagreed on were discussed during the two-and-a-half-hour meeting.

Patton Avenue resident Molly Dykstra suggested delaying planting the replacement flora, shrubbery, and trees until next spring, and emphasized the need for a long-term maintenance plan for the site.

Mr. Koontz, who was moderating the conversation, noted that there had been “at least some controversy regarding the color that the basketball court was painted, so we referred it to [the] Public Works [committee].”

Rather than repaint the maroon court, Barbara Trelstad, who chairs public works, said that the committee’s recommendation was to leave the court color as is, open the park to all users, and see how the colors soften over time as the court is exposed to the sun and use.

Both David Goldfarb and Roger Martindell called the choice of color a matter of personal taste.

Aiken Avenue neighbor Christine Graziano contended that the problem was a “community design issue,” characterizing the previous black-painted court without striping as “unobtrusive,” and asking Council to consider restoring the court to its original hue.

Mr. Goldfarb noted that the final design decisions on Borough projects “are the responsibility of the designer.”

Council members voted to allow the court color to remain, with Mr. Martindell abstaining from the decision.

Another item of contention was the plantings provided as a buffer between Ms. Graziano’s property and the park. She noted that the screening was not adequate, and asked for additional shrubs.

After conferring, Council voted down the motion to refer Ms. Graziano’s request to public works.

As for Harrison Street Park maintenance, Ms. Trelstad said that the public works committee was looking into hiring a summer intern with expertise in perennial plantings.

Neighbor Martha Reinhart suggested that a “point person” from the Friends of Harrison Street Park, the public works committee, and the Borough each work in concert to meet with volunteers and in developing the maintenance plan for the park.

Jo Butler remarked that maintenance issues were known at the beginning of the park project. “The people that don’t have recourse are the taxpayers.” She suggested the Friends of Harrison Street Park look into applying for 501(c)3 status.

Mr. Koontz noted that finance committee discussions for the 2011 budget cycle have already begun and monies for future park maintenance will be considered there as well.

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