By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter
An initiative to renovate the upper picnic area at Palisades Recreation Center has taken a significant step forward after four years in the making, according to project leader Jimmy Dunne.
After raising $200,000 in funds from the community, the American Legion Post 238 will honor its matching agreement and donate $400,000 to the cause.
The project, known as the Veterans’ Gardens, will seek to renovate the “tired picnic area with the buckled cement,” Dunne said. The new addition will feature bocce ball courts and new picnic tables, as project leaders are hoping to place a special light on bocce ball.
As part of the Special Olympics, the website explained, the sport can be a space that includes community members with disabilities as well as players of all ages.
Five separate “living rooms in the park” will place “comfortable seating and dining arrangements” surrounded by gardens that will seek to create a more intimate environment and inspire interaction with one another.
A flagpole monument will welcome visitors at the entrance of the Gardens.
“Each of the living rooms in the park will be separately dedicated to a branch of our armed forces with commemoratives honoring those who have served our country,” the project’s website stated.
With fundraising taking longer than expected, the Veterans’ Gardens is now expected to begin construction in early 2019 with a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for May 5. Project leaders had hoped to hold this ceremony in April 2018.
“We are just so appreciative of the support from the [Department of Recreation and Parks and Mike Schull, general manager of RAP],” he said.
Additionally, the renovation is getting its final draft of blueprints and schematics from Gensler, an architecture firm who has volunteered their services for free.
With some concern from the community, Dunne told the Palisadian-Post last year that no trees will be removed for this project and that project leaders have worked hard to preserve the large grassy area that is used by many in the community.
A rendering of the gardens show the grass in tact but it is unclear if the area will be impeded during construction.
“This project will celebrate this extremely important part of our community and create a fabulous new sense of place … We are also doing landscaping that’s going to significantly better the looks of the park.”
Community members looking to donate the Veterans’ Gardens can do so at veteransgardens.net.