On Saturday, June 28, the Maplewood Garden Club cut the ribbon on the new footbridge over the Hilton Library Rain Garden. It was a beautiful day and it’s a lovely bridge — but the reason it exists at all is a bunch of muddy footprints.
As the MGC’s Kathy Kohlman explained in her speech at the dedication ceremony, the rain garden had been built amidst the big weather events of 2011, and when the last snows cleared there were tons of muddy footprints tracking back and forth across the garden. It was meant to be a community space, but the club wanted to keep the community’s feet from trampling on the garden’s plants and flowers.
So the MGC got a generous gift from Odette Jakel—a longtime club member who had since relocated to California—and the involvement of local architects, builders and government officials to design and construct the new bridge to route pedestrians over (instead of through) the garden. Ellie Winslow of the MGC said the bridge put some “Monet in Maplewood,” with a design inspired by the French artist’s famed Japanese footbridge at his garden in Giverny.
The bridge is the final touch on the multiyear rain garden project, which helps beautify a stretch of Springfield Ave. and helps the township with its Sustainable Jersey certification. The garden is designed to redirect and reuse 200,000 gallons of stormwater runoff each year. It’s currently the largest rain garden in the state.
After a few more speeches and a poetry reading, the club cut the ribbon and officially declared the Hilton Rain Garden Bridge open for business. Check it out next to the Maplewood Library’s Hilton Branch, 1688 Springfield Avenue in Maplewood.