Eccher Park Gets an Earth Day Makeover

BY DIANA BIERMAN

Community comes together to restore park’s hurricane damage

On Sunday afternoon, Stony Point’s Eccher Park came alive with volunteers from five different counties who came to help restore the damage Hurricane Irene wreaked back in August.

Each year the Starbucks in New City hosts an Earth Day event. Coming off a successful outing last year, which saw the restoration of a Spring Valley park, Lori Alfieri, the manager of the Starbucks, decided it would be a great idea to revitalize Eccher Park.

“You have to pay it forward, and this is a great way to do it,” Alfieri said, admiring the 200 or so people from Rockland, Westchester, Duchess, Ulster, and Orange Counties, who piled into the park.

When Irene struck, she left the park—swings, slides, jungle gyms, and the pool—completely submerged underwater. As a result, the playing area was barely useable. The jungle gym rusted, the pool filled with murky water, and the grass was certainly not greener—but instead muddied into nonexistence. It was the perfect park to fix up and make enjoyable again for residents.

Blessed with sunny weather, participants helped with activities ranging from putting mulch and soil down, to planting flowers, to even painting park-appropriate murals on the park’s building walls. The kids in attendance were no stranger to pitching in either, helping paint and plant. And when they got tired, wood kits were set up for them to build a toy helicopter or race car.

“After Irene, the park was a complete disaster,” said Geoffrey Finn, supervisor of Stony Point. “So when we heard we could get something like this, it was a no-brainer.”

Finn, who attended day camp at Eccher Park when he was younger, noted the park’s sentimental value, one reason why he felt it was so important and necessary to replenish it for current youngsters. “The park means a lot to me. It was one of my first priorities to get down here and restore it to proper form after the damage,” he explained. “It’s so wonderful to see the community coming together. It makes you very proud to be a Stony Pointer.”

The feeling was mutual among others who participated. “Unfortunately everyone cannot afford to have playground equipment or a pool in their own backyards and we’re hoping to come out of this with a beautiful place for residents to relax,” said Karenanne Nigro, of Stony Point, who helped organize the event. “After Hurricane Irene, the people in our town were devastated. From the looks of it, they didn’t think this park would open for a very long time, definitely not this summer.”

But with the help of Starbucks, Home Depot, and Stop & Shop, the Eccher Park restoration became a reality sooner rather than later. Starbucks recruited many staff members, including four artists to paint murals on some of the buildings and restrooms at the park. Home Depot also brought their employees and donated the paint for the murals and swing sets, over 50 planters, and flowers, shrubs, soil, mulch, and pavers. Stop & Shop donated all of the food for a recreational barbecue and also sent many of their employees to lend a hand.

Future restorations for the park include a new pavilion and blacktop, which will up the opportunity for more parties and outings, free of charge. Prior to Sunday’s event the Stony Point Highway Department and the Parks Department had some time to clean up and begin restoring the park due to this year’s mild winter.

So what was the outcome on Sunday? Nigro said, “I can’t believe how beautiful our park looks. It was a great day.”

Eccher Park is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Bring the kids by for a newly-restored good time!