By John Schaffner

The Garden Hills neighborhood has received a matching grant of $35,000 for its Heart of Garden Hills Project from the Park Pride Community Grant Program and has announced plans to break ground Feb. 1 on Phase 1 of the project.

The neighborhood has designs on spending a quarter-million dollars or more on the Heart of Garden Hills Project, which includes redevelopment of the neighborhood pool and park and improvements to the intersection of Rumson and Bolling roads and Brentwood Drive, just off East Wesley Road.

Allison Barnett, the director of the Park Pride Community Grant Program, said in her letter to the Garden Hills community: “The [Grant] Committee was impressed with the scope of the project as well as the commitment of the community to the effort as evidenced by the collaboration of the Civic Association, the Pool and Park Association and the Garden Club. We are delighted to be able to support this important project.”

“In addition, Park Pride has encouraged us to apply for Tree Planting Grants, which will cover up to $5,000 per year in both 2008 and 2009, for an additional grant total of $10,000,” reported Janet Tomko, who describes herself as an enthusiastic volunteer.

“The 2008 tree grant has already been approved, and an additional application will be submitted this month,” Tomko said. “The total grants from Park Pride toward the Heart of Garden Hills is $45,000.”

She and Steven McCauley, the architect of the project improvements, appeared before Neighborhood Planning Unit B on Oct. 6 to get the vote of confidence needed to seek the grant from Park Pride and one from the Woodruff Foundation.

The Garden Hills Civic Association, the Garden Hills Pool and Park Association, and the Garden Hills Garden Club have committed more than $100,000 toward the project, Tomko said. “We have recently formed a fundraising committee to continue to raise funds for future phases of the master plan for the Heart of Garden Hills,” she said. “We hope to break ground on Feb. 1 with Phase 1 of the project, which will include significant upgrades to the neighborhood field and pool and installation of traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures. We hope to complete Phase 1 construction by early May, in time for the opening of the pool season and the beginning of swim team practice.”