We were so excited last August to get a $10,000 grant to improve a neglected Passaic River Park trailhead in Summit, but our elation quickly dissolved into apprehension. While we had experience with parts of the project like communications, planning and publicity, construction was way beyond our expertise. Using power tools, digging deep holes in rocky soil, building kiosks and pouring cement were not in our repertoire. Lucky for us, where our knowledge foundered, Summit City staff and dedicated volunteers filled the breach.
A key contributor, Summit City Assistant Engineer Rick Matias, ably answered all our building-related queries and frequently met us at the site to work through construction issues. Rick explained when it was appropriate to secure a structure with gravel (in our case, the bench) and when cement was required (for the
kiosk). When it seemed that a task would be near impossible for our team of volunteers (like digging four foot deep holes in rocky soil), Rick arranged with Summit’s
Superintendent of Public Works Paul Cascais and Director of Community Services Beth Kinney for City employees to help. Rick supervised while Foreman Rich Caputo and Senior Maintenance Worker Gus Reyes dug in challenging conditions with a mechanical auger.
In the days before the holes were dug, Union County Environmental Specialist Betty Ann Kelly revisited the site when Cording Landscape Design Project Manager Dan Chomuk carefully marked the holes’ locations. Dan graciously returned early the following Sunday morning with a donation of 10 eighty pound bags of Quikrete for the kiosk installation.
The construction of the kiosk required a dedicated volunteer who knew his way around a tool box. Here we were so fortunate to
have Summit resident Dr. Jeff Hankinson step forward. Dr. Hankinson built the fabulous kiosk in his garage and disassembled it for transport to the site. There, with help from the spirited Mens’ Club of the Summit Jewish Community Center, the kiosk was set and the Quikrete poured.
The flurry of activity at the trailhead and our blogging has created a buzz around the trails. Many other volunteers have stepped forward to help, including father and son team Jason and A.J. Bernstein, who are painting yellow blazes to mark the trail. Residents will appreciate these blazes on Sunday June 14, when the Summit Conservancy hosts guided hikes at its family-friendly Party at the Dump. While our project is still a work-in-process, we can’t wait to show off all we’ve accomplished!