AYER -- The sun was shining over the small park on Pleasant Street last Wednesday, when community members gathered to celebrate the official opening of the new "pocket" park.
The park, located next to the senior housing on Pleasant Street, came to fruition after years of local effort. The small area next to the former site of the Pleasant Street School remained undeveloped when the old school opened as senior housing in 2010.
Standing before a small crowd in the grass, Ayer Housing Director Ken Martin called the pocket park the ice cream on top of the cake.
"We took an eyesore and turned it into really a showplace," he said.
Visitors can stroll through the grass, sit on benches and enjoy spring flowers on a path that is also handicapped-accessible.
After a few years of planning, the park became more than just a dream when the 2011 Town Meeting approved $100,000 in community preservation funds for it.
Doug Janssen, chair of the pocket park committee, said many Ayer residents helped with the park.
"Their energy and their time contributed to our actually being here today and making sure that it came to completion," he said.
Among those contributors is Mark Pinard, whose grandmother lived nearby and whose mother, Judy, went to Pleasant Street School back in the day. Pinard received an appreciation award for his work on the project.
The park, he said, was a labor of love.
"As a team we really did a great job," he said.
Although brand new, the park keeps a piece of history with it. The giant decorative stones littered throughout the path are actually from the foundation of the old school.
Judy Pinard said there is already someone interested in donating a tree, and welcomed any other such donations to the park.
Janssen said the field was previously just a slanted space, hard for children to play ball on and not really used for anything.
"It was ripe for some major change," he said.
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