Lake Hopatcong Foundation Partnership Leads to Hands-On Opportunity – Posted 10/26/15

Landscape and Horticultural Technology (LHT) students at County College of Morris (CCM) are taking what they are learning in the classroom to transform the grounds of one of the county’s treasured historic sites as a result of a partnership with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.

Through the partnership, students enrolled in Landscape Design and Planning classes will be designing and implementing a sustainable landscape for the 104-year-old Lake Hopatcong train station in Landing. The structure, once a whirl of activity when Lake Hopatcong was a resort community, was purchased late last year by the foundation. The foundation plans to both restore the structure and establish the grounds as an educational landscape filled with native and sustainable plants. When completed, the building will serve as the foundation’s offices and as a cultural and educational center.

“The foundation’s mission is very similar to our approach, in that they want to use native plants, eliminate invasive species and reduce the need for pesticides,” said Brian Oleksak, LHT chair and professor. A local Eagle Scout, Nick Karpiak, also will be installing a rain garden as part of the project.

Donna Macalle-Holly, foundation grants and program coordinator, explained that the goal is for the landscape to serve as a resource for visitors to gain ideas about what to plant in their own gardens to make them more sustainable.

The project will be conducted in phases over three to four years as the building is renovated. In the first phase, CCM students, working with LHT Professor Susan Cohan, will create a design plan for the space. That is expected to be completed by the end of the Fall Semester. Next spring, the students, with the help of volunteers, will begin planting the first section of the landscape. Additional CCM students will help over the next several years to complete the project.

To launch the first phase, Cohan and students Brian Ensminger, of Landing, Stacy Webb, of Pompton Plains, and Nisha Khanna, of Edison, recently gathered at the site with foundation leaders and volunteers to review ideas.

“This is a good way to put to use the skills we are learning,” said Ensminger. “I live down the street and am looking forward to watching this take place.”

CCM was approached to take part in the project by Martin Kane, chair of the foundation’s Board of Trustees.

“We heard about how enthusiastic the students are and felt it was a perfect partnership between a nonprofit and CCM,” said Kane. “It’s going to give students a perfect opportunity to succeed.”

Photo (l-r) Stacy Webb, Nisha Khanna and Brian Ensminger, Landscape and Horticultural Technology students at County College of Morris, on site at the Lake Hopatcong train station where they will be assisting with designing a sustainable landscape for the historic property.

Photo: Historic photos of the Lake Hopatcong train station.

Credit: Kathleen Brunet Eagan