The transformation has begun!
It is taking place on 2.4 acres of land in the east end of Woodstock village where centuries of use as a railroad yard and a dumping ground for salt-laden snow is being re-vamped into a garden and park with a river-view with the help of a grant from the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP). Local community members and the Village of Woodstock took on the “Jungle” as it is locally known and, working with the grant award and local funds, are turning an eyesore into the beginnings of a community asset.
The vision for the Woodstock Community River Park does more than just clean up a mess. It restores the land in ways that benefit the community, the ecology and the water quality of the Ottauquechee River. The two-level dirt lot is being developed into public parking for the village on the upper tier and the riverfront park on the lower tier. The stormwater from the top will be captured in rain gardens at the base of the slope where it will infiltrate into the ground rather than running off directly into the river, and carrying with it sediment from the eroding ground. The ERP grant is covering the restoration of the buffer and the installation of the rain gardens.
The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps installed the first rain garden in early September and removed the invasive knotweed to prepare the site for the native trees and shrubs that will be going in. Tropical Storm Irene damaged the riverbank and washed away a third of an acre of the land. The crew shored up the riverbank with soil, covered it with geo-fabric, and seeded it down. The spaces in the rip-rap will be planted with shrubs to soften the landscape andcapture sediment runoff. A new buffer along the river is taking shape with plantings and hand-made benches.
There is a way to go yet, but with the enthusiasm of the community and the help of a follow-up ERP grant, the work will continue next season and a park will rise from the ruins. I for one look forward to bringing my boat with me for a picnic in the park and a paddle on the river.