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Nice Park

Thu, 03/21/2024 - 09:13


Given our peeved editorials about Herrick Park in recent years, casual browsers of The Star might be surprised when we say that we rather like the look of the latest plan drawn up for its redesign. While we might prefer an open-plain, open-vista Great Meadow look — the sort of open space so swiftly disappearing hereabouts — rather than a formal park, it’s 2024 and we're not going to get an open vista, we guess, anyway, especially now that the basketball courts have already gone in. 

Only those truly avid readers, whose ink-stained memories stretch back before the Covid-19 era, will chuckle and nod, understanding where we're coming from — because where they’re coming from is Deja Vu City. The new park plan looks a lot like the old park plan put forward in 2019 by the previous village administration. 

Seeing them side by side, the 2024 plan for the Newtown Lane end of Herrick appears to have been informed by the one drawn up five years ago by the LaGuardia Design Group, and that's a good thing. There's the rounded entrance off Newtown, leading to a brick path that runs up dead center, flanked by rows of trees, an open oval of lawn as a focal point (albeit reoriented in the new plan), with basketball courts again to the left of the entrance and the playground again bumped over to the right.

The 2019 plan took shape under the guidance of a committee that brought various seasoned stakeholders into the brainstorming stages, from representatives of the Police Department to the Ladies Village Improvement Society. Just as crucially, it was vetted, as such public projects always should be — whether or not they're funded by private dollars — at a public hearing. We know it reflected the public's wishes. 

Then came the election of 2020, of course, and a change in administration, and the well-vetted Herrick Park plan became the baby tossed out with the bathwater.

You may note a few differences between 2019 and 2024 that we perhaps could have done without. As the current plan drawer, a well-respected local landscape architect himself from Landscape Details, sensibly noted during his presentation to the village board, it would have been better if the Roy Lee Mabry Memorial Basketball Courts hadn't been precipitously plunked, pre-plan, quite so close to the sidewalk end (where they will block the view once fenced in). And it would have saved everyone a headache if the pickleball courts had been sited from the get-go, as in the original, next to the basketball courts, rather than over by the L.V.I.S. end, where the residential neighbors, worried about noise and light pollution, filed their famous lawsuit a year ago. 

The crazy route — and the four years of arguing and newspaper editorials about closed-door meetings — it took us to get more or less back where we started? That's politics.

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