Woodville Park

by Kim Robins - Posted on Jun 27, 2012 - 03:32 PM

Photo: Gloucester Master Gardeners Frank Watson, Bill Blair and Bill Walker, from left, worked to start their first raised vegetable gardens in Woodville Park. The Master Gardeners hope to partner with local food pantries in growing vegetables at Woodville to add to their distributions. Photo courtesy of Gloucester Master Gardeners.

Gloucester Master Gardeners Frank Watson, Bill Blair and Bill Walker, from left, worked to start their first raised vegetable gardens in Woodville Park. The Master Gardeners hope to partner with local food pantries in growing vegetables at Woodville to add to their distributions. Photo courtesy of Gloucester Master Gardeners.

It has been 12 years since Gloucester businesswoman Arline Lanciano and her family donated 100 acres of mid-county land for a community park. That generous donation was followed by a gift of $85,000 from the family toward park planning and development. On Saturday, the community will see the fruition of those gifts, when Woodville Park officially opens to the public.

Lanciano worked with county parks and recreation director Carol Steele in making the gifts and planning their use. The donor died in 2009 and Steele has continued to spearhead the drive to get the park open. "I just wish she could be there, but I know she’ll be there in spirit," Steele said of the opening. "I know she would be pleased. Oh, so pleased."

Steele estimates over $2 million worth of planning and development has gone into the park so far, based on development costs for similar projects. Of that amount, less than $20,000 has come from county coffers. There have been in-kind contributions from the county, largely through time invested by personnel, but the rest has come from grants, donations and the hard work of a small army of volunteers.

The first volunteers involved were the members of Park Partners Inc., a non-profit support group that supports parks and recreation in the county. The Partners accepted Lanciano’s gift of land before turning it over to the county. They were also the stewards of the monetary gift and, since 2001, have dedicated most of their fundraising to the Woodville project.

The Gloucester Master Gardeners were early volunteers and lent their expertise to the planning. In more recent years, the Master Gardeners have assisted with brush clearing and planting. They have also planned to construct a variety of demonstration gardens, beginning with a pair of raised community vegetable beds presently under cultivation.