A depiction of current and future plans for parks in Mahwah.
Mahwah — Conceptual plans for a walkway dedicated to musician Les Paul in Winters Park are closer to becoming reality.
Mayor William Laforet, resident Bill Dator and architect Tetsu Amagasu on June 25 gave a presentation on the $239,000 endeavor that would see the installation of a slate walkway encircling the top half of Winters Pond and crossing the bridge, accessing the parking area. Benches and streetlights would line the walkway, which Laforet described as a meandering one following the perimeter of a pond with an added fountain. Flowers would line the railings of the bridge, leading to a rain garden between the pond and parking area and designed to manage storm water runoff.
And a plaque honoring the longtime resident of nearly 60 years would be positioned at the walkway’s entrance.
Paul, who passed away at age 94 in 2009, is credited with pioneering the solid body electric guitar, sound-on-sound recording and overdubbing.
He achieved fame in the early 1950s with such popular songs as "How High the Moon" and "Vaya Con Dios," recorded with his wife Mary Ford. The duo performed a weekly radio show that was sometimes broadcast from their home in Mahwah.
"He’s an innovator," Laforet said of Paul. "He’s probably changed rock-and-roll music forever."
Areas of the park that "look good, but not great, and can look even better" are among those that would be targeted, Laforet said, including gathering spots for geese where little grass grows.
"We don’t want to change that tranquility," Laforet said. "We want to enhance it."
The Les Paul Foundation will fund the work, along with donations and fundraising by the three-member committee, which is dedicated to the walkway’s design and creation. The foundation has agreed to donate $200,000, Laforet said.
The council reacted more favorably to this proposal than the one in January that had suggested the construction of a concert plaza with a stage and benches. Parking and traffic concerns were the council’s main issues.
Laforet and members of committee answered the council’s questions about additional parking accommodations and maintenance costs. Laforet said the project would not add to the park’s 15 parking spaces. Maintenance of the walkway would not put any significant demands on the parks department.
Councilwoman Janet Ariemma called the proposal "beautiful" and said it would be a nice fit for wildlife as well.
Because the project is proposed for township property, Councilman Robert Hermansen raised the money issue.
"My question is that you get into the middle of a project and you run out of money. When you don’t have it, then you have half a project," Hermansen said.
Dater said the project would be done in phases. The $239,000 cost covers the first phase. Money would be raised for an additional walkway that runs further along Winters Pond.
"We’re not going to sign a contract that obligates the town to finish something that goes over [budget]," Dater said.
The council approved the proposal by a unanimous vote.
Laforet said the committee next will present a finalized proposal by Amagasu & Associates, Architects, to the council.
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Thanks so much for your help in getting the word out about Tuesday’s presentation with Nate Chinen and Steve Smith. We had 115 attendees, which is the most ever! We ended up moving the event to the sanctuary. They did a great job.