This issue of GReen Flash was drafted before Ida struck and destroyed much of what it describes. Both Little Free Libraries were toppled and smashed, birdhouses were lost, trees were uprooted and destroyed, and even the topsoil and mulch were washed away and gutted. As if providential, however, the commemorative monument to Officer Roberts remained undamaged. In that spirit of resilience, work is already underway to restore this space -- indeed, make it better than ever -- in his memory.
September 29, 2021
This issue of GReen Flash is intended to introduce everyone to the new arboretum, the Little Free Libraries, and the several “houses” that have been established in the Glen, in commemoration of beloved police officer
Charles “Rob” Roberts, on what would have been his 47th birthday.  

The customary rollout, with full ceremonial pomp, never seemed quite
right for this project. For one thing, it evolved in an unpretentious space
over many months and with contributions from many players.
Of course, habitues of the Glen began discovering it early on, and have consistently reported delightedly about it. But even they did not fully understand the “what” and “why” – only the “where.

Those who knew Rob, invariably knew of his thoughtfulness and simple acts of kindness. What many did not know, however, was his passion for plants and nature. He loved to hike and fish and had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of plants. This arboretum, in its understated loveliness, seemed a fitting way to honor him – especially with the planting of five of his favorite tree, the Eastern Redbud. So we invite you all to enjoy its many features, along with its peace and serenity, in his memory.

But a decade ago, the Department of Public Works, spearheaded by Bill Ferdon, managed (almost miraculously) to beat back huge swaths of the knotweed and reclaim an extensive space of grass, making this the ideal space for the new arboretum. In keeping with the cause, each newly planted native tree was specifically chosen because it offers ample food for all types of wildlife, but especially for endangered bees, butterflies, and caterpillars (such as the endangered Eastern swallowtail, pictured).  

Little Libraries
The Little Free Library movement was established in 2009 by Todd Bol, the brother of a Glen Ridge resident, in honor of his mother, a schoolteacher who loved to read. His goal was to build community by expanding access to books. Obviously, his idea resonated. Today, there are Little Free Libraries in all 50 states, 91 countries, and every continent except Antarctica.
The Glen also features two Little Free Libraries, one for adults and one for children. Of course, there are already quite a few throughout the borough. But the Little Free Libraries in the Glen have a distinct purpose: to share books and build community understanding of the natural world.

The books shared can be both fiction and non-fiction and be about everything from plants and trees to gardening and camping. In the “take a book, leave a book” tradition, it is hoped that these libraries become a sustainable source of excellent reading on the environment for all ages.
Because the natural habitat is being reduced every year, birds and native bees are losing safe and appropriate spaces to lay their eggs. This is a crucial reason why these populations are declining at a perilous rate. Therefore, 3 birdhouses and a bee house were placed in the Glen.

While most people realize the plight of nesting birds, many do not appreciate the plight of native bees that lay their eggs in holes in rotting tree trunks. Honeybees, after all, are not native to North America. Instead, native bees include some 20,000 species of “solitary” bees, so called because each female lays her eggs in an individual hole. In fact, some do not even look like bees. And since they do not have a hive to protect, they tend to be placid and not sting. So, one can watch their labors with no fear of retaliation!

But Wait, It's Not Finished!
We look forward to the arboretum becoming an evolving community endeavor. Consequently, we are open to suggestions and assistance. Certainly, service organizations are more than welcome to help us pull up knotweed. But we will also welcome ideas about activities, events, or lectures that might be held. Of course, environment-friendly book donations will always be appreciated. And, considering that our bee house is reaching full occupancy, perhaps another one, not to mention a bat house or two, would be nice additions. In other words, consider this a work in progress!

Thanks to Many, But Especially to One
From its inception, this project was made possible by generous and spontaneous contributions, often unsolicited, in the form of money, services, and items. These donations came, not only from residents, but also borough employees, and out-of-town contractors. We are grateful to each of these many individuals.

There is, however, one who deserves special recognition. Sam Zichelli, a resident of Montclair but the son of Borough Administrator Mike Zichelli, chose to make this his Eagle Scout project. As such, he orchestrated the entire endeavor, from the Go-Fund-Me to the purchase and establishment of the libraries and the planting of the trees. Without his initiative, it is hard to imagine this project would have gotten off the ground.
"The Old Mill in the Glen" was painted for the Glen Ridge Post Office in 1938 by the artist and former Glen Ridge resident, James Chapin. It shows the water wheel from the former Moffett's brass rolling mill. -- Glen Ridge Historical Society.
The Shade Tree Commission wants to be your resource on all things "trees." If you have concerns, questions or issues, do not hesitate to contact us at
Elizabeth Baker, Chair
Larry Stauffer
Joan Lisovicz
Robert Baum
Tina Seaboch