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Holmes-Foster Park plan receives chilly reception from neighborhood residents

Master site plan showing tree canopy and major elements for Holmes Foster Park.
Master site plan showing tree canopy and major elements for Holmes Foster Park.

A proposed Holmes-Foster Park master plan received a mixed reception Thursday during a presentation by the developer.

Sean Garrigan, of Stromberg, Garrigan and Associates, presented a schematic illustrating the possible additions and changes to the park along with a step-by-step plan of implementation.

Development of the plan began late last summer, when Garrigan and others began gathering community feedback on elements they would like to see added to or maintained in the park. Based on that feedback, a site plan was created, featuring additional pathways, a new play area and new parking as well as other elements.

According to borough arborist Alan Sam, tree and vegetation management issues created the need to develop the plan.

To be stretched out over the next 25 years, the plan recommended 10 key actions, including a tree management program, improved turf quality, improved pedestrian circulation and upgraded pavilions and restrooms.

Reactions to the plan were immediately negative, indicated by a letter read by neighborhood resident Bill Hartman from his wife, Peggy. She said the proposed elements “overdesigned and overpaved” what is an intimate neighborhood park while contradicting the idea of park maintenance.

Resident Bob Eckhardt said he shared her feelings, saying their suggestions for the park had been ignored by the developer.

“This isn’t what we want in our park,” he said.

Holmes-Foster Neighborhood Association President Ron Madrid compared the park to a Toyota Corolla, saying it runs well and has been driven for years.

“What’s presented here is a Lexus,” he said. “We don’t want a Lexus.

“We’ll settle for a Camry.”

Comments weren’t all negative, however, as some residents said they were interested in seeing what could come of the park, noting that paths could help residents with small children in strollers move more easily through the park.

Resident Zoe Boniface said she thought the park was boring and had no need to walk through it because “what’s the big deal.” She said she likes the process of thinking about something new because she doesn’t like what they have now.

According to Garrigan, park development doesn’t have to include every recommendation — it could begin and end with tree management. Sam said no funding has been approved for any changes yet, and would not happen until they were included in the borough budget.

The plan still must be presented to both the borough and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. If the council and community want to move forward with an element of the plan, Sam said, they can start planning from there.