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GR Arboretum EEC, and what you should know about it



plural ar·bo·retums or ar·bo·re·ta \-ˈrē-tə\

:  a place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes

Updated 1/27/2016

In 2010 the Mayor and the Council approved the Friends of Glen Rock Arboretum (FOGRA) project of researching and developing an education center for the Glen Rock Theilke Arboretum. The process of developing this plan included:

  1. Getting approval from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to place a building on this site.  The DEP approved the site plan 5 years ago and determined the best location on the 11 acres that will not disturb or inhibit the wetlandswildlife and the plants / trees.
  2. Working with an Architect (actually 3 firms), a leading modular construction firm, the town Engineer (Boswell), to draw up plans for the educational building that would also comply with LEED certification requirements.
  3. Working under the review of multiple contractors reviewing every facet of the building.

Some Resident Concerns:

1. Having a building on the Arboretum because it will disturb the wildlife, wetlands and the trees / plants.

  • The NJ DEP studied the arboretum’s studies including a topographical survey and soil testing in depth before they determined the best location of the facility and issued their Letter of Interpretation.
  • The DEA  determined that the only spot that Educational center could be is on the right side of the entrance gate 30-40 feet from the curb of Doremus.  This approval will end in 2016 if this is not approved. That will cause the FOGRA to have to reapply for the DEA’s approval.

2. It would take away from the peace and serenity of the Arboretum.

  • Part of the definition of an Arboretum is “educational purposes”
  • The groups that would be there would be smaller in size (40 -50 max)

3. The EEC will be 1,750 SF. this will only take 1/3 of 1% of the 11 acre property 

Many Arboretums around the country have educational centers for their visitors. Some examples include:

Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Morris Township, NJ 

Cora Hartshorn Arboretum, Short Hills NJ

Reeves – Reed Arboretum, Summit, NJ

Laurel Wood Arboretum, Wayne NJ




  1. AS stated at the 1/25/2016 Glen Rock Council work session, it is not a new precedence for Glen Rock to give an unsecured loan to an organization. They did it for the Glen Rock Library. When this was done, it was for $600,000 and was fully paid back.
  2. The building cost is: $638,000.
  3. FOGRA has given $400,000 to the Borough and has requested a bridge loan of $250,000 to be prepaid in 10 years. The Borough countered with an offer of 238,000 to be paid in 7 years.
  4.  The trustees and board have guaranteed an additional $100,000 to cover the first 2 years.
  5. Financial statements have been handed in to the Borough to prove their financials.
  6. The FOGRA continues fundraising. Operating income and pledges will provide funds to repay the loan.
  7. At the completion of the construction the borough will own the $650,000 educational center.
  8. The Friends of the Arboretum have disclosed the big donators, but refuses to disclose the rest due to privacy issues.
  9. $35,000 has been paid for drawings, specifications  and plans.


The Friends of the Arboretum shared a list of Q & A at the Council work session. Click here to read it. 

What the Educational Center will used for:

  • Small classes
    • environment, nature, ecology, horticultural and associated arts
  • Office space
  • Work area for small equipment repairs
  • Shelter in inclement weather
  • Storage of resource material
  • Bathroom facility for visitors.


This building will be run by the Glen Rock Friends of the Arboretum.

The building will be staffed by volunteers, six days a week. Closed on Mondays. It will be managed and maintained by FOGRA.  This group is a completely volunteer group.


GREEN Facts of the Building:

Environmental Considerations

• Site location: The EEC meets all wetlands setbacks

• Designed to fit the landscape & maintain the right aesthetic

• Design features: access, natural light, maintenance, Low E glass and Southern exposure

• Timber framing benefits and FSC certification – sustainable materials

• Energy efficiency and low VOC emissions through select finishes and cellulose insulation

• Cellulose insulation: 85% recycled, no outgassing, great R-Value and low embodied energy (2% of the energy that is used for foam and 10% for fiberglass).

• Of off-site prefabrication: LESS : noise, mess, site disruption & waste

• Rainwater reclamation

Some of the potential uses and teaching benefits include:


  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Water Conservation


  • Wildlife Habitat
  • Earth-Friendly Gardening
  • Solar & Alternative Energy
  • LEEDS Explained


  • Nature Photography
  • Tree and Plant Care Identification
  • IPM: Eco-friendly Pest Management
  • Fall Color & Spring Bulbs
  • Annuals & Perennials


The Friends of the Arboretum shared a list of Q & A at the Council work session. Click here to read it. 

For more information you can also read their EEC Presentation. If you have additional questions, please  reach out to the members of the Arboretum with any questions:

 The vote for this project is on January 27th, 2016 at the GR Council public meeting. 8pm Borough Hall.


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