By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
An old idea to memorialize war dead and other notables from Little Silver is finally getting some legs beneath it. All it needs now is a little money to get going.
The borough recently applied for a $180,000 matching Open Space grant from Monmouth County to transform a grassy patch of land opposite the Prospect Avenue fire station into a memorial park and garden.
The idea, sparked by the Shade Tree Commission almost five years ago when the borough bought the property, is to make it a “full community effort,” said borough administrator Michael Biehl. Plant life and gardens will be donated and maintained by locals, he said, and memorials dedicated to Little Silver war veterans will be relocated to the park, he said.
“They envision having these different little gardens from different little groups around town,” Biehl said. “We have had interest already.”
Shade Tree Commission Chairwoman Linda Goff said the grant money is needed to create the infrastructure for the park cutting a clay pathway, laying down walkways, moving and placing the monuments and creating a small reflective pool. Then it’s up to donors to plant their gardens.
“We want the community to really donate their services and also their plants to create a series of gardens as a memorial,” Goff said. “We want to make it a nice, quiet, natural area where people can sit and reflect, and just get away from everyday stress.”
This plan to make the land a passive refuge for locals, she said, has gotten a better response than a plan that caused some controversy in town a few years ago. Before the borough bought the land, there was a proposal on the table to build a bank there, complete with a drive-through. But then the borough made the purchase, and Goff said the idea from then on was to make the spot a memorial garden. Since then the particulars have been tweaked a couple times, but now there are engineer drawings and everybody’s happy with the proposal, Goff said.
“Really everything is ready to go. We’re just waiting on the money,” she said.
Biehl said if the borough isn’t awarded the grant, the park will still move forward through fundraising efforts and donations. The grant announcements are typically made around the end of fall, he said, and the money is release the following spring, which would make a summer time completion date likely.