SUMMIT, NJ – The blossoming trees and blooming plants aren’t the only things new for spring at Reeves-Reed Arboretum. The Gateway Project is now completed and the new pedestrian walkway is open. Arboretum staff and Summit officials cut the ribbon Monday evening to celebrate the project’s completion.

The driveway between the front gate, which runs in front of Wisner House and leads to the parking area and the Education Center, has been repaved, and a gravel walkway alongside the driveway allows visitors easy and safe access to the Arboretum grounds. There’s also a new patio area on the west side of Wisner House. New plants accent the walkway.

Summit Mayor Ellen Dickson cut the ribbon, along with Scott Hayward, Arboretum president, and Frank Juliano, executive director.

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Hayward said the completion of the Gateway Project reflects a lot of work by Arboretum staff and support from local officials. The upgrades are in keeping with the Arboretum’s master plan, as were upgrades that were previously done to Wisner House and the Education Center.

Hayward thanked all those involved with the project, including the Arboretum board, under the direction of then-president Andy Gottesman. He and his wife Christine, along with Jane and Chan Coddington, were the major supporters. Hayward also thanked the New Jersey Historical Preservation and Glenn Ceponis; Brian Bosenberg and Meredith Carman of Bosenberg Landscape Architects; Mike and Gabe Iannella Construction;    Peter Richardson, Reeves-Reed facilities manager who was the site manager for the construction; Shari Edelson, director of horticulture, who oversaw all the landscape construction issues; Mayor Ellen Dickson and the City of Summit Common Council (with a special nod to Chris Cotter and Beth Kinney); and the Reeves-Reed Arboretum staff "who worked with the construction crews and the community in making this as least disruptive as possible," he said.

"The origin of the construction discussion started as a result of a major Master Site Plan completed in 2010, by Connolly & Hickey, Historical Architects, and primarily focused on the buildings, with a nod to a preservation assessment and recommendation by landscape architects, Webster Associates," Hayward said. "Another important influence was the increase in visitorship from 28,000 in 2009 to 60,000 in 2012.  Our goal is to provide safe access to the grounds and the facilities for all our guests."

Hayward also mentioned the installation of the Freeman Medal Garden, which highlights plants that have won the Montine McDaniel Freeman Horticulture Medal, the Garden Club of America's Plant of the Year award for native plants. Director of Horticulture Shari Edelson said the Arboretum currently has 20 different native plants in the ground, and more are being named every year.

Juliano said the new pedestrian walkway and other changes have a lot to do with accessibility.

“Since 2008, we have increased the number of visitors every year to 60,000,” he said. “We needed to make sure the Arboretum is accessible and safe for all our visitors. That’s really what this project is all about.”

The next event at Reeves-Reed Arboretum will be the solo exhibit, Tom Holmes: ELEMENTS, which will be opening at the Arboretum the night of ART in the Garden, June 1, and continuing through Oct. 31.