Monday, October 30, 2017

The Healing Garden Dream and Start

I have a new project that is near and dear to my heart.  It's called The Healing Garden at the Connecticut Healthcare and Residential Center in Rocky Hill Connecticut.  It started about three years ago when a friend of mine, Bud Neal told me about wanting to plant a few trees at the Veterans Home in Rocky Hill.  He had been going there for years engaging the men and women that are either there short-term or living there.  He's a vet and commander of the American Legion in Woodbury, CT.  His credentials are a mile long with other avenues of business and life, but short term of it, he felt his connections would help in planting a number of trees instead of one or two which was the original plan.  He asked if I was willing to help, and of course I said yes.

After walking the area that he had chosen for the trees, he and I brainstormed an idea of a garden with five trees.  He wanted all the trees to ultimately have the branches touch showing unity.  Each tree would represent the five armed services: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.  With the help of Chris Donnelly another friend, we marked out a path and roughly marked where the trees would be planted.  I drew up a sketch of the idea and sadly the whole thing was put to bed, for a while.  From there, Bud would gently nudge the commissioner, and a few other people at the Healthcare Center.  There were a few road blocks, but three years later and two commissioners later, we got the okay to move forward with the garden.

Bud made his first phone call to a large business that he had connections with through the Army.  He was in the service with owner and Vice Chairman of O&G Industries, Inc., Ray Oneglia.  They had talked a few times and initially Ray had committed to building the walkway that would go through the garden.  When Bud made is second call to Ray to tell him we got the okay to go ahead with the job, within a few short days, and a talk with the GM of O&G, Leo Nardi, the walkway was started.  An excavator and three men were at the site at 6:30 on Wednesday morning on October 11th and construction began.

construction begins

It took about one week from start to finish for the walkway.  We needed it to be wheel chair accessible so measurements were made often.  The slope could only be a certain pitch for wheelchair access, so measuring for that was always a priority also.  We even had a few of the men and women that were in the hospital come out and try the walk before the final coat of asphalt. 

digging and checking the grade
Our test drivers and workcrew

After our test drivers gave us an evaluation, there were a few changes to be made.  We were ready for the asphalt.