WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today cut the ribbon to officially open the newly created Grandparents Grove in Mercer County Park.
Hughes was joined by Mercer County Park Commission Executive Director Kevin Bannon and representatives of the County Office on Aging and Council on Aging in opening the grove, a stonework patio and sitting area with superb views of Lake Mercer.
"This is really in recognition of the role our grandparents and seniors play in our society and in our lives," said Hughes. "With more and more parents working, it has fallen to grandparents more than ever to be the foundation of a family. What a beautiful place we now have here in Mercer County Park to celebrate them."
Grandparents Grove is located adjacent to the marina in the park and provides scenic views of Lake Mercer and its surroundings. Once visitors pass under the impressive 12-foot, solid wood archway which reads "Grandparents are the Footsteps to the Future," they can relax at one of the six black tables and benches arranged on the inlaid stone tile of the grove.
The Grove project was undertaken by the Park Commission, which designed, constructed, and furnished the entire area in four weeks for approximately $23,000. The Commission used its own carpenters and other workers as well as in-house materials to create a site that was both elegant and cost-effective.
Eight plaques with inspirational quotes relating to grandparents are also placed along the outer ring of the grove. Grandparents Grove was created after the Mercer County Office on Aging and the Mercer County Council on Aging recognized the need to provide a special place for the County's older residents to visit and enjoy with loved ones.
"I'd like to thank the members of the Council on Aging for what they do on behalf of seniors in Mercer County," said Jacques Lebel, the chairman of the council. "The Mercer County Park Commission's work far exceeded all of our expectations of what this place could be."
The Grove will be open to the public year-round, but will also be available to host group functions, networking events, and other meetings.
Bannon said Grandparents Grove was the latest addition to Mercer County Park, which he said was "sleepy" in past years and needed new projects to bring it back to the forefront of the County park system. He said the Park Commission has completed a number of important projects around the waterfront of Lake Mercer in the past four years, including a barrier-free, handicapped-accessible playground, a new boat pavilion, upgrading catering facilities at the marina, and a pontoon boat that will soon conduct tours of the lake.