Ferndale receives grant to spruce up green space near railroad

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published April 23, 2015

 Ferndale was awarded a Canadian National Railroad grant worth $25,000 to help beautify land near the railroad that runs through town near Fair Park.

Ferndale was awarded a Canadian National Railroad grant worth $25,000 to help beautify land near the railroad that runs through town near Fair Park.

Photo by Joshua Gordon


FERNDALE — Thanks to a $25,000 grant from Canadian National Railroad and America in Bloom, the city of Ferndale will be upgrading a park that lies next to the railroad and expanding the green space to a currently unused area.

Community and Economic Development Department staff, along with staff from the Department of Public Works and the Parks and Recreation Department, worked on the application for the grant, which provides funds to cities to beautify areas surrounding CN railroad tracks.

At the April 13 City Council meeting, Community and Economic Development Director Derek Delacourt and Planner Justin Lyons presented plans to redevelop Fair Park and the additional green space near Fair and Jewell streets.

“It was good to see how much teamwork was involved in making this happen and will be involved moving forward to complete this project,” Lyons said. “The whole goal of the project is to enhance the quality of life for residents around the corridor, and enhance Fair Park and the adjacent property currently owned by Canadian National. We have cleaned those areas up a few times in the last few years, and the DPW does a great job maintaining Fair Park, but there are things to improve.”

The grant is awarded to five or six communities twice a year and requires participating communities to provide 50 percent matches for the total costs of the projects. The funds can be used for the purchase and installation of trees, shrubs and flowers; design costs; and any other related supplies.

The additional green space is owned by CN, but Delacourt said the city is working on finalizing a lease agreement for Ferndale to expand Fair Park into that area.

Because Fair Park is a linear park, Lyons added that expanding the park into the unused property would provide more options for the city, including introducing a community garden.

“Our idea is why not take Fair Park and expand it and possibly do a community garden, as well,” he said. “We want to upgrade the park with native tree plantings, gardens and more assets for the neighborhood. Any trees will help with natural screening and sound buffer, as well as create a tree canopy, which is a master plan goal.”

Lyons said the community garden would be an additional project not using the grant money, so the receipt of the grant is not dependent on the community garden happening. The plan now, he added, is for the Parks and Recreation Department to oversee the garden and lease space to residents.

Initial plans show the community garden having 40-50 plots, and it would be designed to fit in with the industrial buildings nearby.

“For the community garden, our idea is to have DPW clear the area out, but if a few years down the line it isn’t living up to the potential, we won’t face any consequences from CN on that,” Lyons said. “The garden will have steel-raised plots and be aligned with the industrial area that is there, and we want to make a sitting area, and we have talked about picnic tables, so there is flexibility within the budget to do a few different layouts.”

With the rest of Fair Park, Lyons said, outside of the new plants to help hide the railroad, those working on the project also want to introduce a perennial garden entryway for a warmer greeting for those going north and south in the area.

Delacourt said that residents who live nearby have become concerned about the overgrown plants on the fence; clearing them out to introduce new plants would relieve some of those concerns.

“There is a need to clean that up and out and plant stuff in a more manageable form to eliminate concerns with residents fearing rodents are getting in there,” he said. “It is time to round that area into shape and turn something that has potential problems over there, and can create a nuisance, to something that the community could use, and we are very excited about that.”

The current timeline for the redevelopment is for design plans to be completed by June, and then for a community cleanup to take place in the summer. The expansion is scheduled to open in August, and the community garden would be completed next spring.