Ready volunteers at a beach cleanup
Volunteers and Neighbors Acting Locally for Rye Town Park
By Jamie Jensen
Looking back on 2020, Rye Town Park and the waterfront have been a source of refuge and joy for residents from across Rye and the County. The parking lot at Oakland Beach is rarely empty, even as the weather has gotten colder. Dozens of rescue dogs and new puppies have joined the ranks of an already happy dog community filling the park hills from 6 to 9 a.m. every day. Socially distanced and mostly masked families and friends keep coming to the park daily to walk, run, bike, play, or just sit and recharge. There is rarely a negative Rye Mom post about the park, and hundreds of sunrise photos and nature shots can be found and liked on Facebook and Instagram pages.
Local appreciation for the park is real. And now, that appreciation is turning toward more organized and thoughtful volunteer efforts of committed seniors, young people, and everyone in between. Neighbors are showing up for beach cleanups the second Saturday of each month.
Lori Fontanes, Co-Chair of Rye City’s Conservation Commission/Advisory Council, and Vic Federico, Rye Town Park’s Foreman, are partnering with the Friends of Rye Town Park to install pollinator plants and develop educational materials to enhance existing flower beds and teach us all about conservation. On a Saturday before Christmas, The Little Garden Club of Rye joined the beach cleanup crew to plant daffodils in anticipation of a brighter spring ahead. Under the tutelage of member Chris Duncan, the Little Garden Club donated 250 daffodil bulbs, brought the tools, and introduced a new group of volunteers to the art of planting bulbs.
For those who remember, there was once a large swath of daffodils along the stonewall that runs along the park from Rye Beach Avenue to Dearborn Avenue. Several years ago, and to the dismay of locals, outside contractors accidently mowed down the daffodils too early after their blossoms had dropped. As most gardeners know, cutting back the faded blooms before their leaves have yellowed and died back impacts their ability to rebloom the next spring. Daffodils also require care. Large clumps should be divided every few years, as the flowers start to compete with each other for nutrients and water. Added to these challenges, many residents suspect that snowplows have unintentionally uprooted the bulbs while plowing the adjacent sidewalk after one or two big snowstorms.
Under current park management and the watchful eyes of gardeners, locals believe we can bring back the glory of our park flowers. Perhaps 2020 and Covid have reminded us all to slow down and appreciate what we have. Perhaps our community is ready to offer some tender loving care to the park that keeps on giving. And perhaps, in the fall of 2021, we can plant 10,000+ bulbs along the stone walls and give us all something to look forward to.
There are many of us that think this is possible. The Friends of Rye Town Park welcomes new partnerships and volunteers from our garden clubs, youth organizations, and all our willing neighbors looking to lend a hand. With women like Lori Fontanes, Chris Duncan, as well as Lisa Dominici of the Rye Youth Council, Alison Relyea of the Rye Historical Society, Patti Capparelli of the Rye Sustainability Committee, and Tracy Stora of the Conservation Commission, anything is possible.
<Volunteer opportunities and sign–ups are handled through the Rye Town Park Alliance Facebook page and every effort is made to keep volunteers ‘Covid–safe’. Donations for the Friends of Rye Town Park can be made through the web page (friendsofryetownpark.com)