Stars line up for new park: Shovels in for a future jewel of Woodcliff Lake (2024)

Stars line up for new park: Shovels in for a future jewel of Woodcliff Lake (1)

WOODCLIFF LAKE—Nearly six years after acquiring the 2.1-acre site and spending nearly $500,000 to remediate the former nursery and gas station property, the Woodcliff Lake Borough Council unanimously approved a more than $2.75 million construction contract to build a passive park on the former Galaxy Gardens site at the corner of Woodcliff Avenue and Werimus Road.

Mayor Carlos Rendo announced with evident delight on June 26 that construction was to start Thursday, June 27; that by October all landscaping and installation will be in; and that the park will be completed by the end of the year.

He teased a grand opening for spring 2025 and said “Stay tuned for naming and sponsorship information.”

Rendo last week said the $2,753,123 contract was awarded at the June 17 council meeting to Applied Landscape Technologies of Montville, the lowest of two bidders on the long-delayed project.

Borough administrator Tom Padilla said approximately 11 contractors picked up the park’s bid specifications, and two submitted bids. He told Pascack Press that the borough has commitments of close to $1 million from prior grants and donations to help underwrite costs.

In mid-May, the council approved a $3.5 million bond for park construction, based on estimates from the borough engineer (Neglia Engineering) and architect (DMR Architects), and said that the hope was that park construction bids would come in less than that amount, which they did. Padilla previously said that though the borough could authorize bonding for $3.5 million, “We only borrow as we need it.”

He said the borough was expecting “a rather sizable donation” from a private source to help offset construction costs, plus $246,000 in county grant monies to help fund the park. “A good portion of park construction will be reimbursed,” Padilla said.

Rendo previously told us that another source of park fundraising would include the sale of at least 14 personalized park benches and a donor wall for major donors and contributors.

Padilla said that local professionals and officials hope to have a preconstruction meeting with Applied Landscape Technologies by the end of June and to break ground this summer. He was unsure if an official groundbreaking ceremony would take place. He said the borough hopes to have some amenities available by spring 2025, such as the bandshell and possibly veterans monuments moved to the site.

He said it was possible the site could accommodate Christmas tree and menorah lighting ceremonies this year.

On his Facebook page, Rendo proclaimed June 18, “After a long 12-plus years, I am happy to report that last night the council voted to approve the construction of the park at Galaxy Gardens. Construction to start within a week or two. I thank the council for finally getting this done.”

Residents posted their cheers, with one saying “So excited!” and another noting “That’s great! It’s going to improve the look of our town for sure. Nice to have some sort of center area.” Another questioned the apparent lack of a dog run.

The park’s design was unveiled in summer 2022 by DMR architect Francis Reiner; the conceptual illustrations can be found on the borough website.

DMR provided several concepts for the park, noting it explored “various options for passive outdoor space, a performance area, fitness and other amenities, with the intention of bringing history, athletics, entertainment, and outdoor living together in one place. The initial concepts … called for a transformational project including a great lawn, water feature, dog park, picnic areas, pergolas, a playground and an amphitheater, among many other elements.”

Over the last several years, park construction estimates have ranged $2.9 million to $3.5 million, with officials, including Rendo, stressing that much of the construction will be covered by county grants and donations from companies and private individuals.

At the borough reorganization meeting on Jan. 4, Rendo said the two local priorities for 2024 were construction of a new Galaxy Gardens passive park and new walking trails around the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir, another long-discussed amenity.

One overarching question for the park, informally called Galaxy Gardens Park but dubbed Weirmus Road Park and Woodcliff Lake Public Park in concept plans, is what to formally name it. Padilla said the mayor and council hope to solicit public input on that front. He said they’ll likely post a survey on the website and social media to ask for suggestions. He said the mayor and council will make the final decision on the park’s name.

In two related approvals, councilors approved two contracts for oversight of the construction project. A $122,900 construction management services contract with Neglia Engineering to help manage onsite construction and a $60,000 contract with DMR Architects for architectural, mechanical, electrical, and landscaping construction administration services were both approved by council.

The 2.1-acre site was purchased for $1.65 million in January 2018 by the borough, after Valley Chabad, a local Jewish organization, had considered the site for an expanded temple building. Rendo then broke a 3-3 council tie to approve its purchase; the mayor only votes in case of a tie.

At the time, officials said the original price was $1.75 million, but that it was reduced by $100,000 due to future environmental remediation costs. Valley Chabad later sued the borough for religious discrimination and won the right to construct an expanded temple on its current property.

Serving with Rendo (R) on the dais is council president Benjamin Pollack (D) with councilmembers Julie Brodsky (R), Jacqueline Gadaleta (D), Jennifer Margolis, Nicole Marsh (D), and Josh Stern (R).

Stars line up for new park: Shovels in for a future jewel of Woodcliff Lake (2024)

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