2021 – The Somerset County Park Foundation continued its ongoing support of Leonard J. Buck Garden through improvements funded by the Helen R. Buck Foundation. This year, funding for repairs to the trail that bears Mrs. Buck’s name was provided, as was funding for repairs to the boardwalk trail at Buck Garden. Plant materials were funded for a fern garden at Buck, and a small perennial garden was created in memory of long-time garden supervisor Antoinette Tosco (retired), who passed away in 2020. With additional funding, new plantings were added to Buck, tree pruning was conducted, and lightning rod protection was installed. Funds were approved to cover the cost of securing two equine experts from Rutgers University to work with a Park Commission committee to consider the future uses and programming at Lord Stirling Stable. Through a generous donation from Raymond and Roseann Brown to the Foundation, four free summer concerts were held on Sunday evenings in August in Duke Island Park. The Environmental Education Center at Lord Stirling Park conducted a “Rebuild the Boardwalks” campaign, with donations submitted through the Foundation. They have exceeded their goal of $10,000. Through two of the Park Foundation’s on-going programs, six bricks were purchased to honor family members and were placed at the entranceway of TD Bank Ball Park, and families and friends also purchased 24 benches placed through the parks to pay tribute to a loved one.
2020 – Although this was a year in which many programs were not able to occur due to the pandemic, citizens flocked to use the parks to enjoy nature in record numbers. The Foundation supported Park Commission staff by contributing the cost of some of the initially needed safety equipment and supplies. The Park Foundation was also proud to be able to assist with grants to help keep the parks looking their best for all who visited. Buck Garden planted a variety of new shrubs, plants, and flowers due to funds donated from the Helen R. Buck Foundation to the Park Foundation. Gardeners also secured services to have trees trimmed within the gardens, and pesticide treatments performed. The Upper Nursery Area at Buck Garden received a facelift with cold frames and steps installed. Funding for new bluebird boxes to be placed at Buck Garden, to attract birds to help pollinate the plants, was also donated. The Foundation also purchased roses for the internationally award-winning van der Goot Rose Garden in Colonial Park. Matched funding to desilt the Lily Pond at the Environmental Education Center at Lord Stirling Park was approved, as well as funding to create a forest plan for the park. Also at the EEC, funding for lumber was provided to repair bridges on the trail system. Lastly, the Foundation funded an iPad and Router to help operate the sounds system used in conjunction with the Showmobile.
2019 – Funds from the Whole Foods Market grant received in 2018 were utilized to provide health and wellness programs at the Park Commission, and also used to fund trail improvements at the Environmental Education Center. Kayaking and canoeing supplies were funded at the EEC. The Foundation continued to support the TR Program by awarding scholarships to TR program participants to enable families who can’t afford program fees. The Foundation supported Photos with Santa in which a sensory-friendly environment helped calm anxieties for children with Aspergers who can’t visit a large crowded mall and wait in line. This program allowed families to capture the memory of the holiday season.
The Park Foundation supported Leonard J. Buck Garden by purchasing new donation boxes, deer exclosure fencing, new signs, and funding for much needed tree work. The Foundation also sponsored the plants to be donated on Arbor Day in the spring, as well as sponsored activities at the Annual Rose Day Festival in Colonial Park. Foundation members were on site at Duke Island Park for the ribbon-cutting of the new playground.
Through two of the Park Foundation’s on-going programs, four families and friends chose to honor loved ones through a purchase of five bricks that were placed at the entranceway of TD Bank Ball Park, and 10 families and friends purchased 11 benches placed through the parks to pay tribute to a loved one. The Somerset County Park Foundation served as the official sponsor of “Autograph Sundays”, a Somerset Patriots program featured at all home games played on Sundays throughout the 2019 season. The reverse side of the autograph poster listed all of the Park Commission spring and summer special events, programs, lessons, and tournaments, reaching an audience of 5,000 children. Throughout the past 15 years, the valuable financial assistance provided by the Somerset County Park Foundation to enhance Park Commission programs, services, and facilities totals more than $1.5million.
When you support the Somerset County Park Foundation, you are making an investment in the quality of the life of the citizens of Somerset County to enjoy their parks and open spaces, promoting wellness through experiencing nature and the outdoors, and contributing to making a difference in improving programs and facilities offered to the community. We can’t do it without you!