Recreation Commission unveils plans for new parks in Amenia, Wassiac

Conceptual design plans for two new parks were detailed by Jane Didona of Didona Associates at the regular meeting of the Amenia Recreation Commission Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Leila Hawken

Recreation Commission unveils plans for new parks in Amenia, Wassiac

AMENIA — About 10 residents attended the regular meeting of the Recreation Commission Tuesday, Feb. 27, to hear details of conceptual plans for recreational enhancement through the phased development of two town parks.

Landscape architect Jane Didona of Didona Associates in Danbury, who has been working with the commission for more than a year, presented conceptual design plans for the dual projects, expected to be multiphased over several years of development.

One project, Amenia Green, would improve the town-owned land adjacent to the Town Hall, and the other, Wassaic Park, would develop acreage abutting Wassaic Brook and the Rail Trail and include a new playground adjacent to Gridley Chapel.

Questions from residents mainly sought clarification with some concern expressed about future cost, although all comments were favorable toward the plans.

“Play is an important aspect of everyone’s life and the life of their community,” Didona said, introducing the plans.

Conceptual plan for Wassaic Park. Didona Associates

Wassaic Park

Wassaic Park, Didona said, holds about 9 landlocked acres, with the area south of the brook considered to be a floodplain. Recent drawings have moved the half-acre dog run to another location within the park.

Speaking of dog runs, Didona said, breeds should be kept separated according to their temperaments and they need to be at least 350 feet from any residence.

Also requiring separation according to age group is the playground area anticipated for the land adjacent to Gridley Chapel. Toddlers and young children should have playground equipment that stands apart from equipment used by older children.

Planning has been done in cooperation with officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) who have visited the site and made recommendations to assist with meeting regulations and eventually submitting grant applications.

Included in the planning is a recreational sports field that can be used for a variety of sports. A pump track and skate park were moved within the planning to a different location within the park to offer access from the Rail Trail and accommodate inclusion of a walking trail around its perimeter.

The land area to be converted to Wassaic Park and the Gridley Chapel yard is largely owned by the Wassaic Project. The owners have indicated that the pump track area would be developed by the Wassaic Project and the land leased to the town for $1 a year. The town would assume responsibility for insurance.

An existing small pond at the site could be used for winter skating, surrounded by a short walking trail, Didona said.

“We have to keep the brook cool because it is stocked with trout,” Didona explained while outlining the group of improvements to facilitate fishing within the park, including the construction of a fishing platform, accessibility for people with disabilities, and other improvements. The DEC has offered to assist with construction of the fishing access features.

Expert in landscaping, Didona described the presence of large amounts of invasive plants on the site, noting that grant funding is readily available if planning includes environmentally desirable plantings and features.

Conceptual plan for Amenia Green. Didona Associates

Amenia Green

Review of the plans at the Tuesday meeting, Didona explained, had focused more on Wassaic Park because plans for Amenia Green had already been accepted by the town in June 2023. Responding to a resident’s request at the end of the meeting, however, Didona reviewed the plans for Amenia Green, noting the planning phases are nearing completion for that project.

The Amenia Green plans envision correction of the existing drainage issues, expanded parking opportunities, a walking trail around the perimeter of the green area, a pavilion to offer concerts, and a splash pool for the playground area with sheltered seating for adults.

Details of the drainage plans involve new technology including underdrains combined with newly developed drainage fabric to allow water to seep away, an alternative to clay pipes. The system also uses a gravel layer, but Didona explained that soil testing will determine the volume of the gravel layer.

“There will be more places for water to go and to be absorbed gradually,” Didona said.

Next Steps

Recreation Commission secretary Peter McCaffrey noted that this planning for both park areas is akin to a master plan for the multiphase, multiyear effort.

Speaking of the phased program, Didona said that the town’s Recreation Commission needs to “build momentum” toward the next steps in the phased program of recreational park enhancement.

Commenting after the meeting when asked about the next step, McCaffery replied that the Recreation Commission will study the plan and focus on what is needed for the first phase, including surveying and mapping of wetlands and floodplain, and assessing impact on endangered species in the area, notably salamander and bog turtles.

The next steps will also call for the creation of formalized design drawings by an engineer, in advance of receiving cost estimates for construction.

To view images of the park plans, go to

Latest News

Walking among the ‘Herd’

Michel Negreponte


‘Herd,” a film by Michel Negreponte, will be screening at The Norfolk Library on Saturday April 13 at 5:30 p.m. This mesmerizing documentary investigates the relationship between humans and other sentient beings by following a herd of shaggy Belted Galloway cattle through a little more than a year of their lives.

Negreponte and his wife have had a second home just outside of Livingston Manor, in the southwest corner of the Catskills, for many years. Like many during the pandemic, they moved up north for what they thought would be a few weeks, and now seldom return to their city dwelling. Adjacent to their property is a privately owned farm and when a herd of Belted Galloways arrived, Negreponte realized the subject of his new film.

Keep ReadingShow less
Fresh perspectives in Norfolk Library film series

Diego Ongaro

Photo submitted

Parisian filmmaker Diego Ongaro, who has been living in Norfolk for the past 20 years, has composed a collection of films for viewing based on his unique taste.

The series, titled “Visions of Europe,” began over the winter at the Norfolk Library with a focus on under-the-radar contemporary films with unique voices, highlighting the creative richness and vitality of the European film landscape.

Keep ReadingShow less
New ground to cover and plenty of groundcover

Young native pachysandra from Lindera Nursery shows a variety of color and delicate flowers.

Dee Salomon

It is still too early to sow seeds outside, except for peas, both the edible and floral kind. I have transplanted a few shrubs and a dogwood tree that was root pruned in the fall. I have also moved a few hellebores that seeded in the near woods back into their garden beds near the house; they seem not to mind the few frosty mornings we have recently had. In years past I would have been cleaning up the plant beds but I now know better and will wait at least six weeks more. I have instead found the most perfect time-consuming activity for early spring: teasing out Vinca minor, also known as periwinkle and myrtle, from the ground in places it was never meant to be.

Planting the stuff in the first place is my biggest ever garden regret. It was recommended to me as a groundcover that would hold together a hillside, bare after a removal of invasive plants save for a dozen or so trees. And here we are, twelve years later; there is vinca everywhere. It blankets the hillside and has crept over the top into the woods. It has made its way left and right. I am convinced that vinca is the plastic of the plant world. The stuff won’t die. (The name Vinca comes from the Latin ‘vincire’ which means ‘to bind or fetter.’) Last year I pulled a bunch and left it strewn on the roof of the root cellar for 6 months and the leaves were still green.

Keep ReadingShow less