The village of Marble Cliff is planning a project for Tarpy Woods that will give residents a way to remember and honor loved ones by planting a tree in their memory.
The village is working with arborist Chris Ahlum, president of Ahlum & Arbor Tree Preservation, to design a pathway along which trees would be planted, Mayor Matt Cincione said.
The pathway will be about 100 feet south and southwest of the entryway to the 10-acre park, at the south end of Cambridge Boulevard.
The new gravel pathway will connect to the existing path through the park, Ahlum said.
Ahlum later this year will present Village Council members with a final design for what will be known as Studebaker Grove, Cincione said.
Council has agreed on the name as a way to recognize former mayor Kent Studebaker for his years of service to the community, he said.
The village began discussing the idea for the grove last year as Studebaker was preparing to retire, Cincione said.
"We've had requests from residents who wanted to plant a tree in the village in honor of a family member," he said.
While some initial thought was given to allowing memorial trees on the Cambridge Boulevard island, village officials and Ahlum agreed the best scenario would be to create the grove at Tarpy Woods, Cincione said.
Ahlum will prepare a list of six to eight tree species from which residents can select to have planted along the pathway, fiscal officer Cindy McKay said.
"That will give people some choice of the type of tree they want to honor their family member while at the same time making sure we'll have a good diversity of trees in the area and the type of trees that will be able to thrive in the woods.
"The arborist is telling us how important a diversity of trees is for an urban forest," she said. "It helps protect your trees from being impacted by a disease or insects, like Dutch elm disease or the emerald ash borer."
The project will be paid for in part by funds from the estate of Rosemary Duffy Larson, a former village resident who died in 2016 at age 100 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
"After she passed away, we were contacted by an attorney representing her estate who informed us about a $250,000 gift she had requested be used to support and enhance the village's green space," McKay said.
in 2018, the village used some of the funds to plant perennial flowers on the Cambridge Boulevard island, she said. Last year, additional funds were used for plantings as part of landscape work at Village Hall on Fernwood Avenue.
About $187,000 of Larson's gift remains, McKay said.
The cost of the Tarpy Woods project will be determined by the final design Ahlum completes, Cincione said.
Some drainage improvements will be made at the park to support the grove project, but none of Larson's gift will be used to pay for that work, he said. Other village funds will cover the cost of the drainage improvements.
The Studebaker Grove project will not exhaust the remaining portion of Larson's bequest, McKay said.
Tarpy Woods is a passive park designed to allow village residents and visitors to enjoy nature in an urban setting, Cincione said.
The mayor, who lives on Cambridge Boulevard, said he has noticed an increase in the number of people visiting the park in recent weeks.
"I don't know if it has to do with the COVID-19 situation -- perhaps people having more time or just needing to connect with the serenity of nature at this time," he said. "We don't keep any running tally, but there just seems to be more people coming to the park."
The addition of Studebaker Grove will help make the park a more welcoming place to visit, Cincione said.