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West Hartford’s ‘Friends of Fernridge Park’ Raises $10,000 for New Trees

Friends of Fernridge Park has received a donation to plant trees around the new promenade. Courtesy photo

Friends of Fernridge Park participated in a matching funds program through Sustainable CT, and has raised a total of $10,000 which will be used for planting trees along the newly-constructed promenade.

By Ronni Newton

Friends of Fernridge Park has been touted as a great example of a nonprofit neighborhood-based organization, and recently announced the achievement of a new goal: raising $10,000 to purchase 30 new tress that will line “The Promenade” – the latest element in the vision for a more beautiful Fernridge Park.

Friends of Fernridge Park held a crowdfunding campaign, and through the support of residents and businesses raised $5,000, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by Sustainable CT, for a total of $10,000. Included among the major donors was West Hartford-based Trout Brook Landscaping, which gave $2,000 in seed money to the campaign.

The trees – which will be carefully chosen native species – will be planted this spring through Friends of Fernridge’s partnership with West Hartford’s Leisure Services Department, and should be in place well before the dedication of the new promenade on June 13.

“The Promenade has been an incredible addition to Fern Park. These trees lining the walk will bring even more beauty to the park and pleasure to park visitors,” Friends of Fernridge Park President Rosemary DaCunha said in a statement.

Funding for the promenade was also attained through a community partnership between Friends of Fernridge Park, which raised $20,000, and the Town of West Hartford which matched the funds. The promenade is about two-thirds complete, and will be finished this spring and will not only encircle the pool but also unify existing paths and make Fernridge Park more accessible and “create an exciting new element for activity and leisure,” the organization said.

In the description of the project for the crowdfunding campaign, Friends of Fernridge Park said, “As part of this project we want to line the paths with trees that flower in springtime, provide shade in summer, and offer dazzling fall colors. We also want to install benches around the Promenade and along the paths so that visitors can relax, read, and people watch in comfort.”

The Sustainable CT Community Match Fund, also known as “ioby,” is an innovative funding resource that matches community donations, doubling the investment in projects. According to the Sustainable CT website, “ioby stands for ‘in our backyards,’ but it also stands for taking care of each other, for civic participation, and for trusting neighbors to know what’s best for the neighborhood.”

It includes a crowdfunding platform that provides an accessible resource for community leaders to find funding for grassroots projects, with the intent of making “our neighborhoods more sustainable, healthier, greener, more livable, and more fun.”

Anyone in a Sustainable CT registered municipality – of which West Hartford is one – is eligible to receive this funding. Approximately 50 municipalities across the state are registered, and schools, nonprofits, community groups, and individual residents can all propose projects and access the matching funds.

“Through the Community Match Fund, we aim to put residents at the forefront of creating positive, impactful change. Match Fund projects are community led and community funded, demonstrating the power of people working together to make change in their communities,” Abe Hilding-Salorio, community outreach manager of Sustainable CT, said in a news release.

West Hartford is among seven municipalities chosen to receive a matching grant for a sustainability-oriented community project.

Sustainable CT, an initiative run by the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University provides a roadmap of sustainability best practices for towns, technical assistance, funding, and recognition through certification. Forty-seven towns and cities across Connecticut have earned the prestigious Sustainable CT certification, demonstrating accomplishments in nine impact categories including inclusive and equitable communities, cleaner transportation, vibrant arts and culture, natural resource stewardship and affordable housing. You can find out more about Sustainable CT at www.sustainablect.org.

For more information, or to apply for a Community Match Fund project visit ioby.org/sustainableCT or reach out to Sustainable CT’s Community Outreach Manager Abe Hilding-Salorio at [email protected] or 860-465-0256.

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