RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Hundreds of Ridgewood residents gathered at Memorial Park at Van Neste Square in Ridgewood Monday night for a preview of the Van Neste Lighting Project.
The $250,000 project, which is half funded and half completed, will light the dark park with hundreds of dimmable, low-wattage LED bulbs that subtly illuminate pathways, trees, and historical monuments.
They replace 16 old incandescent streetlamps.
Villagers strolled Monday, looked up at the lights in the huge old oak tree in the center of the park, walked their dogs, took selfies, and generally explored the subtly lit landscape.
Meanwhile, a preview of the new sound system to be installed played Beatles songs.
The park transformation, a project of the Conservancy for Ridgewood Public Lands, is designed to encourage pedestrians to enter the park while improving safety.
“People are like moths,” said one speaker. “They go where there’s light.”
Memorial Park features two historic monuments – the War Memorial and another for Abraham Godwin, who founded the village – as well as a September 11th memorial.
For three days prior to the preview, students from the International Landscape Lighting Institute worked in the park to bring along the project enough to show the public what is ultimately to come.
They came from different parts of the country. All are volunteers.
Each spoke about his or her group’s work on a particular tree, monument or corner of the project.
“There are just over 80 fixtures lighting up the oak trees, pine trees, and monuments. All 80 lights, combined, have a power consumption of 651.7 watts,” said Jordan Telford of Washington State.
“If you remember putting 60-watt lights in your home, this is like having 10 lights in your home,” he added. “With an average run time of five hours a night, these LED lights should last 13 to 15 years.”
The institute is a nonprofit founded by Janet Lennox Moyer, architectural lighting designer and partner in Jan & Brooke, Luminae of Glen Rock, the firm hired to do the Van Neste project.