Robbinsville dedicates new Foxmoor Community Park, memorializes community members
By Mike Davis | Times of Trenton
October 23, 2014
ROBBINSVILLE - Three years ago, the 6-acre plot on Washington Boulevard was slated to become another office building.
But after good-natured battles between the township and nearby residents in the Foxmoor neighborhood and a yearlong construction process, the site was officially opened and dedicated as Foxmoor Community Park.
Mayor Dave Fried, local officials and residents were on hand Thursday to formally open the park, though construction was completed earlier in the summer.
"When we think about how this park came to be, it was the community who really birthed it," Fried said. "They helped design it and were the impetus for making it happen."
The center of the park is an oval concrete walkway, with walking paths leading toward a butterly garden, waterfall and a trail into the neighboring woods, constructed as part of a Boy Scouts of America project.
"It's fantastic, the whole idea of the community coming together here," said Kettering Court resident Jayme Race, who along with the Foxmoor Planning Group helped persuade the township to preserve the site as a park.
Earlier this month, Fried welcomed suggestions from residents on what to actually call the park. Although he settled on simply referring to it as "Foxmoor Community Park," the residents' suggestions were realized throughout the site.
"When we think about a beautiful, quiet place like this park, what a better place to come sit quietly, relax and remember the happy times of each one of these people," said recreation director Joe Barker.
The white gazebo near the middle of the park was dedicated in memory of Craig Robinson, a Robbinsville police officer and flying instructor who died in a plane crash in 2000.
A weather vane in the shape of an airplane -- currently affixed to a sculpture reading "Never let anyone stand in the way of your dreams. Believe in yourself" -- will top the gazebo, Barker said.
"For him, it was like walking down the street," Barker said. "He loved to fly."
The rock waterfall adjacent to the gazebo was named in memory of Mary Lou Elgrim, a longtime Pond Road Middle School math teacher who died in 2002.
"Mary Lou Elgrim wanted everyone to love learning and went out of the way for all her students," Barker said. "She was one of the most positive and upbeat people you'd ever meet."
The family of Melissa Ferrono, a Robbinsville High School graduate who died of Ewing's sarcoma last year, was on hand to place a plaque in her memory near a garden area of the park.
"Melissa was an amazingly strong and courageous girl,'" Barker said, quoting the girl's mother. "'Melissa always looked to the future with hope and determination.'"
In 2011, the township planned to construct a three-story office building on the 6-acre property. Almost immediately, residents in the Foxmoor neighborhood resisted, calling the move an “infringement of homeowners’ rights.”
But within a few months, the township heeded the residents' requests and pulled plans for the office building.
On Thursday, those same residents -- including Race, who sued the township to prevent the office project from going forward -- saw their own actions memorialized: Fried dedicated a bench near the gazebo in honor of Race and the Foxmoor Planning Group's efforts to protect and aid in redevelopment of the park.
The bench was purchased in part through Race's fundraising efforts, collecting $1,800 in small donations from Foxmoor residents and matching funds from the township.
"When we think about government, that's how it should work. ... In politics, flip-flopping is a terrible thing but we can't always be right," Fried said. "Sometimes, when your residents talk to you, you have to change your mind. Sometimes, the residents are right."