Mayor Fixell at groundbreaking ceremony.
The day proved quite refreshing after the rain clouds cleared during the early morning of January 12th. A small group of people gathered for the dedication of Neperan Park.
They were mostly Village workers and local politicians. A handful of residents, who had learned secondhand about the ground breaking ceremonies, enjoyed quartered muffins served by Jenifer Ross, an assistant to Village Administrator Steve McCabe. Ms. Lucille Munz, a landscape architect for the Neperan Park project, was also in attendance. With attention to detail Mr. McCabe choreographed the Mayor, Trustees and Ms. Munz for the requisite photo and a group of smiling faces dug their spades into the earth.
Mayor Fixell spoke briefly, acknowledging the work of Ms. Ross and Mr. McCabe in making the park a reality, and indeed his administration can be given credit for getting the long overdue project moving forward. Dead trees and felled debris along with large boulders will be cleared from the two-plus acre park. Future plans call for the rebuilding of a retaining wall at the back of the property while a six-foot chain link fence will surround the park for safety reasons. Repair of the “decorative stone wall” and entrance at the front of the park is also part of the restoration process. After the remedial work is completed the grounds will be graded and seeded. Paths that are ADA accessible will be created with one leading out to Hamilton Place. Buffer zones of trees and shrubs will be placed near the homes closest to the park’s boundaries. Later, benches and picnic tables will be added along with tree markers for the botanically minded. Visitors will find mid-July a pleasant time to experience all the amenities.
Former site of The Mott House, built in 1860, the property had been purchased in recent times by developers who submitted a site plan for 24 condominiums to Tarrytown’s Planning Board (prior to the property being rezoned for single-family homes). The land, however, came under a building moratorium initiated by Tarrytown’s former Mayor Paul Janos. Mr. Janos then authorized two open space committees, one for Neperan Road and the other for Wilson Park. The Neperan Road Open Space Committee was initially assisted by Mr. Tom Julius who directed them to Mr. Clark Wallace at the Trust for Public Lands in New York City. It was Mr. Wallace who first sought to preserve the property. In addition, Committee members were also helped by the Westchester County Land Trust and the educational courses offered by Tom Anderson and Paul Gallay, its Executive Director. With the help of these people and their organizations, came the creation of Tarrytown’s Village-wide “Open Space” movement. Volunteers like Gladys Osterman, Michael Farley, Leslie Gordon, Rosalie Rusinko and the late Mort Epstein, attended numerous Board meetings of Trustees and Planning Board members, detailing the merits of keeping the Neperan Road parcel green. After nearly six years the unending efforts of all these people and organizations were reinforced, if not recognized, at the dedication.
One final note: the first tenet of land preservation is a willing seller. Mr. Samuel S. Vieira was that person. He had intended to either develop the property or have it be entirely parkland. Without the elder Vieira’s cooperation, nine homes would be standing on the site today. As it is, one large lot has been approved by the current Village Board to be sold. The lot sits at the northeast corner of the property and has commanding views of the Hudson River in the winter. Some feel there was no reason to sell off property purchased with open space funds while others see compromise as a reality of politics.