Dickinson Memorial Park Playground
Newtown, CT

The mission of the restoration of Dickinson Memorial Park is to transform a typical suburban recreational park into an environmental learning center, linking existing natural features and newly incorporated habitats to family recreation. The tennis court, softball field, skateboard rink, playground, and community pavilion for picnics, events, and concerts, will be immersed in the native habitat gardens and wetlands. The park will act as a living-learning laboratory - a base for innovative site programming that will raise environmental "literacy" and awareness to the healing and restorative power of nature.

The topographical and underlying natural features of Dickinson Memorial Park were covered by the hardscape of recreational uses, overlooking the opportunity to integrate the inherent beauty with the existing woodlands and the wetlands system. Portions of the wetlands ecosystem running through the entire park, connecting to trout streams and other vital waterways in the region were partially 'filled in' through the years. The environmental significance and function of these wetlands to provide wildlife habitats and bird populations and native plants has been lost. As a result, visitors to the park have not been given the opportunity to experience a deeper connection to the park’s own potential biodiversity and its relevancy to the greater ecosystem.

The proposed restoration of Dickinson Memorial Park will create a nature sanctuary within the existing park site to not only engage visitors, but support and generate sustainable wildlife and native plant habitats. The plan includes a green Community / Education Center that will further strengthen the park as a living-learning laboratory, exhibiting a palette of green and sustainable infrastructure systems that explore relationships between the physical, built, and natural environments.

The playground will be surrounded by butterfly habitat gardens, secluded meditation seating, overhead arbors, and butterfly hoop houses. Simultaneously, a buried stream will be exposed and restored, connecting the adjacent wetland systems and streams to the center of the park.

In the next phase, trails and boardwalks will lead visitors through the various ecosystems, transforming and enriching the expected park experience for schools, families, and people of all ages and raising awareness of the healing and restorative power of nature.

See Dickinson Memorial Park booklet (pdf)

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