A lasting legacy: Deptford putting finishing touches on Legacy Park

The new area will hold the plaques of the township's Legacy Honorees, long-time residents who have dedicated countless hours of time to Deptford.

The Deptford Township seal will greet visitors to the new Legacy Park area at Fasola Park. The wall directly facing the entrance will be home to plaques for all of the township’s legacy honorees. (MIKE MONOSTRA/The Sun)

Brick-by-brick, a lasting legacy more than a year in the making is coming together at Deptford Township’s Fasola Park.

The township’s new Legacy Park is nearing completion after years of discussion and planning. Workers are putting the finishing touches on the brick walkway. The installation of plaques for the township’s first three “Legacy Honorees” is one of the last remaining steps left toward completing the area.

“It’s about honoring people,” Mayor Paul Medany said about the new park. “There’s so many folks to honor. There’s thousands of volunteers who have given their time.”

The idea behind Legacy Park came after many months of planning and discussion at the township level. Medany said the township always got numerous requests from residents to name parks, streets and buildings after people who dedicated their lives to Deptford. Encompassing all of these people within a single park was something township council felt was the best thing to do.

“It took us about eight to 12 months in work session meetings,” Medany said. “I came with some ideas and other council members brought ideas to the table.”

After numerous discussions at work session meetings, council adopted an ordinance detailing a process and procedures for how residents would be selected for Legacy Park.

The “legacy ordinance,” as Medany calls it, was unanimously adopted by council in March 2018. The ordinance established a selection committee for Legacy Honorees and outlines the full criteria for a person to be honored. Among the numerous requirements, a nominee must live in the township for at least 20 years with an exception for combat veterans and heroic acts, preference is given to volunteers over people compensated for service, and nominees must be of outstanding character with no criminal record except for misdemeanors and/or disorderly persons offenses. Since the passage of the ordinance, the township has selected Dr. William King, John Margie and Margaret “Peg” Mendoza as its first three honorees.

Ryan Lawrence, The Sun
John Margie and Peg Mendoza, longtime Deptford residents, were the second and third inductees into the township’s new Legacy Park. (RYAN LAWRENCE, The Sun)

The ordinance also has a section called “Means of Recognition” codifying the creation of a Legacy Park at either the municipal building or along the pathway at Fasola Park.

“All of the council members came up with great ideas,” Medany said. “We decided on Fasola because that gets the most foot traffic and use. We thought about foot traffic because we want people to read the plaques and read the inscriptions.”

The location of Legacy Park is just past the traffic circle as park-goers come in from the Delsea Drive entrance of Fasola Park. Legacy Park will consist of three walls, with all of the Legacy Honoree plaques to be place on the wall directly facing the entrance.

“To get inducted into the legacy part of the park, there’s a pretty strict criteria,” Medany said. “So we’re going to estimate for one or two people (to be inducted) a year. We have room, symmetrically, for about 36 plaques.”

The walls to the left and right of the entrance will be used to honor other residents. Medany said the township is looking to honor volunteers from various organizations on one wall. For the third wall, the township is planning to put nameplates with the many people who have served as elected officials in Deptford, from township council to school board to the board of fire commissioners.

Legacy Park isn’t the only new addition to Fasola Park. Inside the traffic circle near the Delsea Drive entrance, the township has recently relocated headstones honoring township fire, police and other first responders who have passed away over the years. The ordinance codifying Legacy Park also recognizes this area, named First Responder Circle. The head stones formerly sat at the township municipal building, but were relocated to the park since it’s a higher traffic area.

Three headstones pay tribute to first responders who served in Deptford Township. The township plans to dedicate First Responders Circle in addition to Legacy Park during a ceremony later this year. (MIKE MONOSTRA/The Sun)

Once the final touches are completed on Legacy Park, Deptford Township plans to hold a dedication ceremony for both the park and the first responder memorial. Medany said a date hasn’t been set for the dedication, but it could happen later this summer.