Monthly Archives: June 2008

Fragrant dream unfolds: Joe Parks garden along riverwalk is dedicated

By LESLIE MODICA
Thursday, June 19, 2008

DOVER — Joe Parks had a lifelong dream blossom Wednesday with the completion of the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Public Gardens.

Friends, family, city officials and admirers gathered along the banks of the Cocheco River for the official dedication ceremony of the gardens, which are the result of nearly a year of work and hundreds of volunteers.

“It (the park) says Joe Parks, but it really is the community of Dover,” Parks said. “This is a unique project in New England, or at least New Hampshire. Find me a project like this in which volunteers have done all the work.”

Parks added that although he supported the project, Beth Fischer, the volunteer coordinator for the project, was the person to organize and motivate the volunteer effort.

“They (Dover Main Street) found somebody else to run it who has run everybody else ragged,” Parks joked. “A lot of work was done here in self-defense.”

The project began as an effort between Dover Main Street and the Dover Rotary Club last fall, and has since involved at least 200 volunteers and help from the Ageless Dreamer Foundation.

In addition to providing the inspiration for the park with his own garden, Parks has donated numerous plants, designed the garden and put in several hours of labor to help complete the finished project.

Parks has hybridized more than 22 types of rhododendrons and was asked by the Smithsonian to register his six-acre garden, which he has made available to the public in Dover. He is also formerly the president of the Massachusetts Rhododendron Society.

As part of the larger project, Local Eagle Scout Steven Jencso has also worked with Connie Roy, of Reverie Design, and a group of Boy Scouts to redo the mural under the Chestnut Street bridge.

“These are some of the kinds of events that make me proud to be a part of this city,” Mayor Scott Myers said during the dedication. “People sometimes say when government gets of out of the way, the real work gets done… We (City Council) got out of the way and let the average folks take over and the results are here.”

Although it took countless volunteer hours to make the park work, Laurie Widmark, the founder of the Ageless Dreamer Foundation, said it was Parks’ initial dream that made the park possible.

Joe Parks stands in the Joe B. Parks Community Garden following a dedication ceremony on Wednesday.

“Thank you for having the courage to dream out loud and share your dream with us,” Widmark said.

Parks also got a surprise from Laura Smith, of Rivers Photography, who presented him with a framed photograph of the gardens.

Jewelry Creations will also donate 10 percent of any sale of its Garden Collection toward a trust created to help fund the maintenance of the park.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the trust can make donations to the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Public Garden Trust, C/O the Finance Department, City of Dover.

Anybody also wishing to help with the future maintenance of the parks, or “Adopt-A-Spot” can contact Dover Main Street.

Dedication of Joe Parks Community Garden today in Dover

By LESLIE MODICA
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DOVER — The Joe Parks Community Garden will have its official debut today during a dedication ceremony to celebrate the more than 200 people who have contributed to the park.

The celebration will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the public garden, at 400 Central Ave., and will feature a series of speakers, include a few words by the park’s namesake and workhorse, Joe Parks.

In addition to providing the inspiration for the park with his own garden, Parks has donated numerous plants, designed the garden and put in several hours of labor to help complete the finished project.

Mayor Scott Myers, Ageless Dreamer Foundation Executive Director Laurie Widmark and representatives from the Dover Rotary Club and Dover Main Street will also speak at the dedication ceremony.

There will also be music and a reception following the ceremony.

“It’s been fun. It has really been great,” Beth Fischer, the projects volunteer coordinator, said. “Joe (Parks) wanted to give something to the community and it really is a beautiful garden.”

The garden is part of a larger project to beautify the riverfront and extends along the Cocheco River from the Central Avenue bridge to the Chestnut Street bridge.

In addition to hours of volunteer time, Parks donated several of his world-famous hybrid rhododendrons. several other plants and three sculptures from his garden.

Parks has hybridized more than 22 types of rhododendrons and was asked by the Smithsonian to register his six-acre garden, which he has made available to the public in Dover. He is also formerly the president of the Massachusetts Rhododendron Society.

Local Eagle Scout Steven Jencso has also worked with Connie Roy, of Reverie Design, and a group of Boy Scouts to redo the mural under the Chestnut Street bridge. Although the park has been mostly completed, the project is still looking for some volunteers for the work that has to be done to keep the gardens in shape.

“We are looking for additional folks who want to get involved to help us maintain the beautiful gardens,” Fischer said.

Project coordinators have also set up a trust through the city for donations to help maintain the garden.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the trust can make donations to the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Public Garden Trust, C/O the Finance Department, City of Dover.