PENNFIELD – You may not know it’s there. In fact, if you blink, you might miss it. But, there is a small little park in Pennfield that has fallen into disuse, and one man decided it was time to restore it to its former glory. Wayne MacQuarrie said the park sat unattended for several years. Not only is this a public park, it is also home to a monument commemorating pilots and soldiers who trained in the area.
“Because the park had been neglected and forgotten for years, I was motivated to find a way to refurbish it to make it attractive and usable for the public,” said MacQuarrie. “Our plans are to continue making the park beautiful and a rest area for all, as well as being the place for a noteworthy memorial each year by the 250 Saint John Wing REAF, the group of flyers who were trained and flew from the local airfield, and soldiers trained at the army camp during World War Two.”
Initially, the grass was mowed by the Department of Transportation (DOT), but they stopped doing it a few years ago. So, for several years, the park has been unattended, and many people seemed to have forgotten it even existed. MacQuarrie said the scrub and undergrowth had been allowed to grow wild, making it next to impossible to comfortably use the park and navigate the paths.
“I contacted them (DOT) and asked them about it, and they said, ‘it’s not our job, we don’t own it’,” said MacQuarrie. “So, I started inquiring who owned it. Don’t know. I called Environment Canada, they don’t know.
“So, anyway, I finally found out that DNR (Department of Natural Resources) owned it. I asked them, because you can’t do any changes without permission from whoever owns it. They said, ‘yeah, go ahead’. So, we started cleaning up.”
Once the clean-up began, MacQuarrie decided to ask DNR to transfer ownership of the property to the from LSD, and DNR readily agreed, and it signed over the deed to the park last year. MacQuarrie and his group have been working on the space ever since. He applied for funding through the Federal Gas Tax Fund to help with the park restoration project, which he received, and he’s waiting to find out if he will receive additional funding from ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency). The additional funding will be used to pave the roadways in the park to make them wheelchair accessible.
“There’s one (path) that goes across, and then a path through the middle. It would be more wheelchair accessible. You can see what the roads look like. It would be hard pushing a wheelchair across this stuff. If we can get it paved, it would make it accessible to everyone. If we could get those all done, it would make it better for everybody.”
MacQuarrie said he would like to open the park back-up and have it be accessible for all, not to mention look much more presentable. He and a group of volunteers have been busy fixing the picnic area. They fixed one of the sheltered picnic tables, and added a new one. Volunteers have also thinned out some of the trees so more sunlight will shine through. A contractor was hired to do the heavy work, and a landscaper was brought on board to clean out the fallen trees and dead wood. Planters were purchased to be placed near the monuments, and flowers were put in by A Change of Seasons, a lawn care company in Pennfield.
“I told her, ‘put whatever you think will last for the summer’. I know it’s late for annuals.”