Shaping Up a Shaken Site

Shaping Up a Shaken Site

When heavy winds and rain and bouts of hot, humid air subside, it's the perfect time to take advantage of the otherwise pleasant summertime conditions and enjoy what your favorite local park has to offer.

Whether you're seeking a shaded spot on the ground to settle into your favorite book, an open lawn for impromptu ball games, or a scenic view of the town, parks provide us with a variety of special places and spaces for countless seasonal activities. But without a bit of extra TLC, the grass grows a little less green, the tree tops tremble a bit in the breeze and sometimes, the most invasive plants take over the land you look forward to frequenting through the end of summer's sunshine.

That's when local arborists can help. The tree care skills and abilities demonstrated by Guy Pardee, district manager with The Care of Trees, a subsidiary of The Davey Tree Expert Company, when a local park grew awry, for example, offered a solution to restoring one of park lovers' most prized local getaways for the sake of increased future visitations and enjoyment.

Potential for beauty. When Lesley Walter, neighborhood environmental activist, moved back to the Village of Irvington, N.Y., in 2011, after living in Beijing for 20 years, immediately she noticed the poor conditions ailing her local park, Halsey Pond. "The vegetation had gone wild," she says. The village had requested bids to remove all fallen limbs, invasive shrubs and vines and unsafe trees several years ago, but the price discouraged the community from pursuing the task.

Walter met Pardee through an annual community event when he served as the village's official arborist. Just when Walter thought she was the only community member to notice the sad condition of Halsey Pond Park, Pardee began to focus on its poor state. "It was Guy who gave me the encouragement to go public," Walter says. "The neighbors were so enthusiastic, and everyone immediately recognized the dire state the park was in," she says.

fallen tree in Halsey Pond Park
Pardee and his crew removed neglected dead trees that had fallen over Halsey Pond.

Since January, Walter has solicited volunteers from local neighborhoods to help reverse the "sad" appearance of Halsey Pond Park. "Irvington already has a parks and recreation department crew that prunes, plants and oversees our parks," Walter explains. "But the job is too big; Irvington has recently greatly enlarged its park system. It's up to the residents to make a difference."

However, the task required extensive pruning. "It's not just an aesthetic issue," she says. "With the help of the town arborist and Guy, we've identified trees that are possible future safely issues."

Pardee decided to volunteer to help restore Halsey Pond Park based on his prior knowledge of the park. "I wanted to raise money and volunteers for its restoration, as well as give back to the community that has helped my success," he says.

In February, Pardee's three-man crew, including The Care of Trees' Foreman Domingo Martinez, Climber Fabian Herrera and Trimmer Cuca Mojica, donated one day of service to complete restoration efforts at the park. From hazard pruning and Hurricane Sandy damage assessments to neglected and large, fallen tree removals, the crew addressed several structural concerns within the park.

restoring Halsey Pond Park
Guy Pardee and Lesley Walter, neighborhood environmental activist, address invasive species that have interfered with a public access area in Halsey Pond Park.

Donors provided sufficient funding to welcome The Care of Trees' return to the park on two additional days. "The amount of cleanup was huge, but a second day of work was strongly advised to get the job done," Walter explains. While Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Joe Archino provided a front-end loader to complete some of the remaining work at hand, Pardee and his crew removed three large trees from the pond on a third service day in mid-April.

"Volunteer cleanup efforts pay interest," Walter says, explaining Pardee's red twig dogwood trimming has revealed approximately 50 bottles floating in the pond. Pruning has surfaced geese nests on each island within the pond as well.

The restoration project will benefit the park in several ways. Although joggers and dog walkers now frequent the park for recreational purposes, Halsey Pond Park was once known as an artist retreat and wedding photo destination. "It is historically significant to the town, with remnant structures of a castle that once stood on the property," Pardee explains. He hopes the cleanup work will help restore those historical aspects as well.

As Walter says, "Our small effort resulted in a visible difference for now and a new awareness of an old park's maintenance needs."

Although parks do require extra attention to prepare them for any seasonal wear and tear, Mother Nature will return the favor by providing you with the luscious lawns, shade-abundant trees and calm, quiet spaces for the most relaxing summer afternoons.

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