Downing Park receives $10,000 grant

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 9/28/21

The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess County have received a $10,000 grant from the Garden Club of America (GCA) to repair and restore Downing Park.

The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess …

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Downing Park receives $10,000 grant

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The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess County have received a $10,000 grant from the Garden Club of America (GCA) to repair and restore Downing Park.

The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties are in the process of restoring and replanting various trees and other plants in Downing Park in conjunction with the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, the celebrated landscape architect, with the Downing Park Planning Committee.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Garden Club met at the Downing Park amphitheater, to let the club know of the grant, thank them for their support and efforts and to plant perennial bulbs in a section of the park. These bulbs should bloom by the time of Olmsted’s birthday on April 25.

Downing Park was first opened in the year 1897 and was named after the late landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing of Newbugh. The park itself was created by the late Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, who are most commonly known for the creation and design of Central Park in New York City, the website states.

Downing Park itself was the last park that was ever commissioned and created by Vaux and Olmsted.

Fast forward to May 2018, when a tornado passed through the City of Newburgh, which led to the park and surrounding areas suffering damages and in need of repair such as the amphitheater and the area by 3rd Street. Downing Park Planning Committee secretary/treasurer Karen Eberle-McCarthy noted that in the park itself, 15 healthy trees were damaged by the tornado.

Downing Park Planning Committee president Kathy Parisi is hopeful that with the revitalization within the park, bringing back more events and other activities will entice more people to become involved.

According to Linda Fraser, Chairman of The Garden Club of America Civic Improvement Committee, in order to acquire the grant, certain requirements are to be met. The first being the usage of the grant towards restoring public landscapes impacted by natural events, this case being the damage by the tornado.

Also with the grant, the club will include educational programming for the community, while also being directly involved with the restoration efforts.

Pamela Breeman, the current president of the Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, is ecstatic for the support shown by the GCA and the potential that the park has going forward for the community of Newburgh.

“This is a neighborhood that we want to see use this property here as their backyard and then some,” Breeman said.

“Something is going on here in Downing Park and we want to share it with the community and have the community share it with us.”

Ward 4 Councilwoman Patricia Sofokles grew up in the City of Newburgh and remembers when the park was well maintained. As she grew up, the park itself began to be let go and was not in good condition. Seeing the Garden Club, Downing Park Planning Committee and all visitors who come by, she is happy to see Downing Park with life again and being taken care of.

Many of the members of both organizations hope to see the park become more utilized and shared by all of the community for years to come.

In the next few months, the club’s goals are to bring in students from the local school districts to take part in the project through programming. They have also reached out to local leaders and organizations for collaboration efforts as well. In the springtime, the club will be working mainly on planting and other landscaping projects.

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