The Friends of Ely Park have announced a revamped mission and plan for the revitalization of Lambertville’s largest public green space and gateway to the city – Ely Park.
Construction is currently underway on a new fence and façade – the latest phase in improving the park’s appearance and safety.
“We’re excited to see momentum build, and fortunately all is consistent with the results of the survey we put out recently,” said Friends of Ely Park President Jim Mastrich. “We surveyed residents over the past two years, heard what was important to them, and are addressing safety issues as well as making the park a more welcoming, child-friendly community space.”
Top priority for residents was the beautification of the park and the desire to see the space utilized for community events such as farmer’s markets, holiday events and concerts.
“This legacy project, which was the brainchild and passion of the late local designer and restaurateur Jim Hamilton, has been in the works for a decade and is now gaining serious traction thanks to the allocation of $410,000 by the city of Lambertville and private fundraising efforts by the Friends of Ely Park,” said Mastrich.
A total of more than $600,000 has been raised by public and private fundraising efforts.
Construction on a decorative brick and powder-coated steel fence, which will run along North Main Street from just below the Lambertville Public School playground to the city’s football field at Jefferson Street, is expected to be completed by mid-July. A public ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for later that month.
“In addition to the fence, we’re wrapping up external improvements to the Snack Shack,” said Mastrich. Well-known local muralist Illia Barger has been tapped to create art on the façade of the Snack Shack. “The goal is to make it both safer and more attractive to park visitors and passersby,” he said.
Original plans called for a fountain and water feature dedicated to Hamilton, who was a beloved life-long Lambertville resident.
Instead, the board is in the process of partnering with the Delaware River Towns Chamber of Commerce to create a $50,000 endowment fund in his name with the purpose of awarding annual scholarships to area high school juniors to help support their interest in the arts, whether it be culinary, performance or visual. These scholarships would be awarded in conjunction with the chamber’s annual Shad Festival Scholarship, which is also in Hamilton’s name.
In addition, wood from a centuries-old London Planetree that once grew in the park is being cured by Niece Lumber. The plan is to offer the lumber to local carpenters and artisans to craft one-of-a-kind furniture, which will be auctioned or offered for sale, with the proceeds added to the Hamilton scholarship fund.
“With the community behind us, we anticipate making even greater strides in the coming months, and we’ll keep the public updated throughout the process. Our hope is that Ely Park will become the centerpiece of the community that Jim Hamilton envisioned, and a destination for tons of family-oriented recreation and enjoyment,” Mastrich said.
To learn more or make donations to FEP, visit friendsofelypark.org/.