EDISON — From outdoor concerts to weddings, the newly installed gazebo at Papaianni Park expects to become a “landmark for decades to come.”
That’s what Mayor Sam Joshi said he envisions as the nonprofit Edison Arts Society (EAS) celebrated the unveiling of the gazebo on May 18.
The gazebo complements the sculpture garden and 9/11 Memorial at the park on Municipal Boulevard.
“The gazebo had been under construction for two years,” said Gloria Dittman, president of EAS. “It took a lot of time, it took a lot of money and it took a lot of support.”
Dittman said the gazebo project, with the backing of then-mayor Thomas Lankey, was announced in 2020; however, due to the challenges of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it was pushed back.
The gazebo was manufactured and shipped in installments by Amish Country Gazebos Inc. in Pennsylvania.
Joshi said EAS has done an amazing job with public-private partnerships to enlighten many different parts of the community over the years.
He said his administration was “all in favor of the arts and public works” that EAS does.
“I want to make sure we continue this and frankly we expand it as much as possible because it touches the lives of so many people,” he said, adding that “the visions and concepts” of community projects don’t happen overnight, they take “time and perseverance.”
Joshi said he wanted to ensure Papaianni Park is a crown jewel for the township, from City Hall to Central Avenue.
“We want to recognize the whole region,” he said. “This gazebo is going to be a space where we can come together…we want to make sure we improve [and] make sure we host lots of different events here. I am very happy to host weddings. Edison residents have already shown interest just by walking past.
Dittman announced the next EAS project, which includes installing hero banners of 19 township veterans on telephone and light poles along the route of the Memorial Day Parade, which is scheduled to begin at noon May 28.
The banners will be on display until Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Additionally, the EAS commissioned artist Nitu Pilania, from the Iselin section of Woodbridge, to paint a mural of the American flag on the Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 3117 building on National Road.
The mural project at the VFW follows a number of murals that have been created across the township, which have been a collaboration of ideas between the EAS and the Edison Chamber of Commerce.
Pilania created murals on the Edison TexMex Deli building on Woodbridge Avenue, as well as an American flag and seals of each US military branch for the American Legion Father & Son Post 435 building on Oakland Avenue, and an American flag and a pictured bald eagle Computer Building on Route 27 South.
Olga Polcilio, of the Fords section of Woodbridge, created the first “Good Things Take Time” mural project on the side of the Jade Restaurant building on Amboy Avenue.
The gazebo unveiling included an invocation by Reverend Bishop Nikolaos Brown of Ignite Church and a small concert by EAS member Mara Levine with Gathering Time.
Three art students from the township’s high school – Swastika Dahinwal and Kelly Memberno of John P. Stevens High School and Taylor Britton of Edison High School – also received EAS scholarships at the ceremony.
The scholarships are available for underclassmen of the township to pursue their artistic studies.
The gazebo and mural projects follow on from a number of major EAS projects. In 2018, the steel sculpture “The Family”, which is the inaugural structure of the sculpture garden, was erected to represent peace, justice, equality and unity. These are all concepts that Fernando Silva, an internationally acclaimed artist and resident of Edison, wanted to represent in the contemporary depiction of an American family.
In 2016, Silva created two large ceramic tile murals depicting Edison’s history and culture at the main entrance to the Civic Complex.
For more information on EAS, visit http://edisonarts.org.
Edison Community Garden
The EAS, in conjunction with the township, is holding a mural competition to decorate the township’s first community garden, construction of which began in April at Thomas Swales Jr. Park located at Park Way and Elm Street, according to township officials. canton.
All township residents can apply for a place in the 38-bed garden, where they can grow healthy vegetables and fruits.
Joshi said the garden and other improvements to Swales Park will “elevate the whole neighborhood and create a sense of pride in the area.”
The garden will include a shed for residents to store their supplies, as well as work tables where they can get to know each other while working side by side.
Although the garden is built by the township, the Edison Community Garden Initiative (ECGI), a non-profit organization, will manage it.
Jothi Kesavan, chairman of ECGI, said a few beds will be set aside to grow produce for local pantries.
In addition to the community garden, the volleyball court near Swales Park will be replaced with a new and improved sand volleyball court, a new tree-shaded walking path will be placed along the perimeter of the park and the court baseball will get a proper backstop creating the perfect place for informal games.
For more information about the community garden, visit www.edisoncommunitygardens.org.