The Friends Of Parks Phenomenon

Especially for our nearby city parks and open spaces, the spirit of volunteerism is alive and kicking.  After months in the works, Friends Of Parks groups will be officially baptized for the Montclair Railroad Trail and Joaquin Miller Park.  These blessings should make things easier when attracting volunteers, raising funds and getting a few projects done.

Friends of Montclair RR Trail

Last year, we witnessed plenty of upset over Shepherd Canyon’s old railroad right-of-way.  This trail is well-loved by walkers, bicyclers and dogs heading back and forth to the Village.  To improve the path, a group of volunteers has been cleaning areas monthly and getting more organized about priorities.

Now these volunteers and others are invited to join the “Friends of Montclair RR Trail.”  The fledgling group will be holding their first annual meeting soon – on Saturday, April 10th, 12:30 – 2:30 pm at the Montclair Rec Center.  (More info here.)

Friends of Joaquin Miller Park

Nearly ditto for Joaquin Miller Park, after this crown jewel was left tarnished last year.  Park rangers had decamped from their office, and then were eliminated altogether.  In their place came bonfires and troubles, and then volunteers who decided what needed short and long-term attention – including projects like Joaquin Miller’s homestead restoration.

“Friends of Joaquin Miller Park” has evolved into a more structured group, which will hold their first formal meeting and all-day celebration – on Sunday, April 25th, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, at Sanborn Drive.  Come prepared to picnic and hike as well.  (More info here.)

Montclair Park Without Friends

Only kidding!  Beyond the Friends Of Parks phenomenon, we have long appreciated the volunteers who support Montclair Park, from planting flowers to leading weekly hikes.  Maintenance and clean-ups have become a problem with staff reductions, something that Park Director Mark Zinns has been trying to manage with help from all willing hands.

Teens may provide an answer, especially those invited to hang out at the park.  Besides having a place to go after school, “Teen Power Project” volunteers hope to encourage kids to participate in spring clean-ups.  By the way, there’s a kick-off for teens and families to celebrate with snacks, skateboarding and teen singers – on Wednesday, April 21st, 2:30 – 6:30 pm at the park.  (More info here.)

While there have always been volunteer efforts, it feels like neighbors are more involved than in earlier, more flush times.  There’s no question that a core group of volunteers are motivated to keep parks safe and cleaned up, to conserve remaining open parcels, and to honor the historical heritage around here.  The progress is slow and steady, but heartening.

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