Pondside Park: Eagle Scout Project- shade trees & tree conservation at the ball field

The ball fields at the northern end of Pondside Park in Harrington Park were reworked in 2009, with improved drainage, a sod playing surface and an irrigation system. The fields are ringed with woods and marshy areas, but they are open and exposed, with little available shade for spectators.

In the summer of 2010, approximately 30 River Birch trees were planted in an existing buffer zone and riparian area adjacent to the fields.

Life Scout, Jon Fisher, of Harrington Park Boy Scout Troop 616, was looking for an Eagle Scout Service Project in the summer of 2010.

He had been to the Pondside ball fields in the summer and knew how hot and sunny it is when sitting in the bleachers and in the dugouts.

With the help of Joseph Ulrich, a Certified Tree Expert and owner of Palisades Tree Service, Jon developed a proposal to restore the 30 River Birch trees which were apparently suffering from a condition known as “tip die back”. The proposed project would also include planting 5 large shade trees around the bleachers and dugouts to enhance the appearance and provide shade in this area of the park. The project was presented to the Recreation Commission in November 2010 and approved.

The work took place in two phases with the help of several Scouts and adult leaders and was completed on June 2, 2012.

The first phase required removing heavy weed and grass infestation in a 3-4 foot diameter area around the base of each River Birch tree.  Next, the Scouts removed excess backfill around each tree because the trees had settled too deeply into the soil.

Mr. Ulrich pointed out that the goal of this work was to “improve the oxygenation for the root system as well as the availability of water and nutrients for each tree. This will improve the likelihood that the trees will reach their full growth potential and preserve the riparian area north of the field”.

Mulch was then applied properly to the base of each tree to prevent future weed growth. It has now been almost one year since that work was done and the trees are full of new growth and seem to be thriving.

Three 10-foot Shade Maples were planted at the entrance of the baseball field, behind the home team dugout, and at the end of the visitor’s bleachers. Mr. Ulrich recommended that two smaller trees, Purple Plums, beautiful purple leafed shade trees, be planted behind the visitor’s dugout. The trees are all large enough to have provided some welcome shade to the participants at the June 9th travel team game held at Pondside Park (the day of the Fishing Derby) – and the trees have plenty of growing to do!

The Maple trees were donated by Lupardi’s Nursery in Closter and the Purple Plum trees were donated by Victoria’s Nursery in Paramus and other planting materials were donated by D’Ercole’s Nursery in Norwood. Thanks to assistance from the men of the HP DPW, the planting holes were dug and water has been brought in so that the trees are able to be watered.

Thank you Jonny for your work that truly benefited Pondside Park – and will be enjoyed by the residents of Harrington Park and park visitors for years to come!

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