by Lucy Hardcastle
It was just that. What if the property slated to become a bustling hub of commercial property at Mirabel Road and 116 was given an opportunity to be something else. What if it could be a direct link to the West County Trail and open up one of the prettiest spots on the planet? What if that property could serve the whole of the community and beyond as a welcoming pause in their busy lives, rather than simply the ground under a shop or parking lot? Was it possible to have both commercial and open space? A divided town decided a compromise was possible even though each side had to give up a bit of their dream to make it happen.
That dream wouldn’t have been possible without The Parks Department. Their significant investment towards the matching grant from Open Space years back came with a promise to extend the West County trailhead into town. As you can see if you’ve been on the trail recently, that promise has been kept! The wait was worth it. The boardwalk is being finished just in time for winter and the views are stunning. Thank you Parks Department for seeing, then investing in that dream started by the Forestville Planning Association way back when. (Read the history.)
The FPA has done an amazing job keeping the 4 acres under their purview safe and available all this time. These volunteers serve selflessly to be sure the grass is mowed, the trash picked up, the overnighters asked to move on. Like any public space there are those who try to take advantage, using it as a sales site, homeless camp or place to park when they have nowhere to go. Recently I had to physically block a young man who was busy unloading his household trash next to our trash cans. Yes, there are challenges. But there is so much more.
I see families around the picnic tables enjoying lunch, couples playing cards, bicyclists enjoying coffee after a ride, little kids running and skipping, searching for bugs in the grass. I see young girls play acting on the riser, an old woman reading a book in the sun, a group of teens hanging out, people walking their dogs and so many people out getting exercise. I see community. That was the dream.
Who helps make that dream real now. Others besides the FPA chip in like Mary Rand who ran a wonderful Farmers Market this past summer and fall despite all the challenges. Another set of people who keep that dream of building community alive is the Wood and Trappe family who use their expertise and resources to keep the parking lot decent. Most recently DW Enterprises were seen putting in the base support for the two picnic tables. Doug Wood along with his son-in-law Max Gram worked hard to create that base and Ronnie Franchesci, who happened to be passing by, jumped right in to help. That’s what community is all about and we are lucky to have not only the Wood family be willing to pitch in but countless others as well.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this dream real. May you have special dreams of your own you can make come true. It may take time, it may take work, but if it turns out like our downtown Oaks park, and our own link to the West County Trail, then it will be worth it.