Pocket park taking root on Sanderson Street in Greenfield

Local landscape engineer Peter Wackernagel discusses plans to create a pocket park at 20 Sanderson St. with Greenfield residents.

Local landscape engineer Peter Wackernagel discusses plans to create a pocket park at 20 Sanderson St. with Greenfield residents. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-26-2024 12:50 PM

GREENFIELD — Residents are working to bring a small patch of almost barren land surrounding the 20 Sanderson St. building back to life with the creation of a pocket park this summer.

Using a $7,500 grant from the Licensed Site Professionals Association and some help from the Department of Public Works, local landscape engineer Peter Wackernagel is teaming up with volunteers from the community group Greening Greenfield to transform the building’s front and rear with native species, shrubs, park benches and possibly electric bikes.

The building houses multiple town offices and services, such as the health, planning and recreation departments. During a recent visit, Wackernagel collected feedback from residents on what they hope to see in the future park space.

Wackernagel first proposed the idea roughly a year ago when former Mayor Roxann Wedegartner sought to give the city-owned property a facelift. Being a landscape engineer, Wackernagel said he originally planned to upgrade the property’s horticulture, but later expanded the project to build an outdoor community space for residents to enjoy.

“The other main idea is just to improve public spaces as social spaces that people can use. A lot of people work in this building, and people also come here on business. We just want to create spaces that those people can use,” he said.

Given the property’s close proximity to Greenfield Middle School, Wackernagel said he and his team have been in communication with the school’s Garden Club in an effort to engage students in gardening by letting them plant in the area. Greening Greenfield member Peg Hall, who works with the school club, said she is excited to let the children collaborate on the project.

“I’m excited about the fact that they could come work on the project without needing a school bus to have a field trip,” Hall said. “We already do the Garden Club on that side [of the street], so they’re outdoors once a week and I think it would be a good collaboration.”

Greening Greenfield member Nancy Hazard said she wants to see local plants and shrubs that will benefit the pollinator population and the land’s ecosystem.

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“Moths and butterflies are particularly interesting to me because they lay their eggs on trees mostly, and then caterpillars are the food that the birds need in order to raise their young and so on,” Hazard explained. “A lot of birds live in trees because that’s where their food is. That’s the bigger picture of wanting a more native habitat, and then also the beauty of it all.”

Health Inspector Jess Maenzo-Tanner, on the other hand, said she hopes to see an E-bike rental station installed at the site, adding that she thinks it would be good for the city financially, for transportation and for encouraging residents to spend time outside.

The project’s first phase, Wackernagel said, is expected to begin in late June or July. He’s planning to complete the project’s basics by August.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.