It’s been at least seven years since Locksley Lane Park was mangled from construction.
Seven years that the residents of Sherwood Green have looked upon the empty space and seen only a crude and uninviting field.
The place once known as Rainbow Lake is a desolate wasteland of rotting trees bordering a sandy, patched land lined with broken asphalt.
But now, a group of neighboring residents has decided it’s time for action.
“They used it as a dumping ground fine, it happened, it went away and this what we are left with, so it’s time for them to restore it,” said Kim Mehaffey.
After the residents of Sherwood Green decided they could no longer bear to see this once-refreshing park reduced to such an eyesore, Dave Kline and a group of local residents decided it was time for a change.
Kline said that when he originally moved into the area, the park was even less attractive than it is now. Having never seen the park in its former state, Kline can only remember a field of sad, overgrown weeds, a neglected field and 15-foot-high mound of dirt that sat for years in the middle of this dilapidated park.
“It just sat there, a big pile of dirt and weeds up to probably my chest,” said Kline.
Kline said he sent a few emails out to the township three years ago about the issues and dangersregarding the park with no luck, but had some luck when he raised those same issue this year.
The township began removing the dirt and cutting down the weeds. Until that finally happened, Mehaffey said, residents whose yards bordered the park would go beyond their fence lines to mow the weeds.
However, residents around this park believe there is still a long way to go, and have now formed the Sherwood Green Project. After creating a website for the organization, Dave Kline and a group of individuals organized meetings for local residents to voice their opinions, with the first meeting back on May 20.
Kline and others encouraged residents in the area to come out and to speak up about ideas on improving the park. Forty residents showed up that evening to discuss the implications of restoring Locksley Lane Park to its former state.
“The good thing is you’ve got a lot of neighbors that are willing to dig in,” Mehaffey said. “We’ve got to do what we got to do, but we need the township’s help”
They’re already getting some—on June 8, Mayor Ray Chintall joined the Sherwood Green residents at Locksley Lane Park to talk about some of the issues concerning its rehabilitation.
While in attendance, the mayor assured the residents that maintenance of the park was always the township’s responsibility and not that of Mount Construction, the company that was responsible for the replacement of water and sewage pipes in the area.
Chintall also addressed some of the concerns of erosion on the bank of the stream and removing asphalt in order to plant new grass seed. Kline, Mehaffey, and Tom McFadden all say that the mayor and the township are “very responsive” and helpful in restoring this park.
In fact, Chintall said there should be some money available this year to help bring the park back up to snuff, without wrecking the township’s budget.
“We're doing to take some money from the Open Space funding,” he said.
But first, the township’s engineers have to look over the park for potential problem areas, given the potential for erosion, and figure out the cost of restoring the area back to what it was.
While Chintall said it’s likely they’ll be able to plant new grass there in the fall, though more may need to be done.
“Unfortunately...the only thing that grows there right now is weeds,” he said.
The residents there maintain that there is a lot more to be done than just replanting grass. For instance, underbrush and poison ivy have completely over grown the small stream that runs along the park. Mehaffey said that trees reaching around 40 feet are just falling over, due to the erosion problems and lack of soil by the stream.
Kline also pointed to several dead and dying trees that have either had limbs taken down or been removed completely. Kline had pitched the idea of gabion baskets—erosion control measures—along the stream as a way to help the trees to survive and give the land a chance to grow grass.
“I think we all understand that these baskets are fairly expensive to have installed, and that is why we are open to other ideas—like using broken curb left behind, or raising funds through donations of time and resources,” said Kline.
All the residents agreed that if it takes making it a community project, they are more then willing to do just that.
Mehaffey said she would like to see what happened at to happen here. She said she believes that with the proper permission and some help from the township, the community would be able to make large improvements to the area—there have already been offers from locals willing to donate trees, for instance.
“We are all willing to help with the giant hole and put together some sort of funding, ask for donations and stuff,” said McFadden.
Prior to the Sherwood Green development, Locksley Lane Park was known as Rainbow Lake. Once privately owned, the land was home to a man-made lake and a pavilion. McFadden said that concrete from the old pavilion still remains buried in the underbrush of the bordering woods.
While the lake has long since been gone, Locksley Lane still remained a lush green field that parents could let their children play in up until eight years ago.
Kline said that even though it’s still not perfect, the park is a large improvement over what he remembers just a few years ago, and with a little more work, should be back to something the residents can enjoy in the very near future.
Editor's note: This article has been modified from the original to clarify several statements on the condition of the park and the township's response.