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Thank you to the Mayor and Council for your support of the Environmental Education Center at the Thielke Arboretum. And thanks to all of the supporters of the Arboretum and of the Center. The NO vote was specifically regarding a Bridge Loan for the last 25% (or so) of the budget. This loan would have allowed planning to move ahead this year, eliminating uncertainty for donors, volunteers and contractors (some of whom have offered to donate components of the construction ‘if & when it happens’). Even though the vote was a NO, the Mayor and council have been vocal supporters of the Center. We understand the reasons that the Ordinance was voted down, and we will move forward as before.


Construction of the building was authorized in 2010, and fundraising efforts have been amazingly successful, especially given all fundraising was based on drawings and word of mouth. We’ve now raised over 75% of the funds needed, and in the next few years Glen Rock will have a (small but) beautiful Environmental Education Center in the Arboretum to support the efforts of our volunteers & our schools, and provide a nice place to stop in as you enjoy the beauty and gifts of nature within this amazing community resource.


Thanks again for your support of the Arboretum and our new Environmental Education Center, and please visit to learn more!


Friends of the Glen Rock Arboretum Board of Trustees


Bill Carbone, Grace Cosgriff, Bill Gilligan, Scott King, Jennifer O’Toole, Tom Scerbo, Diane Schlegel, Carol Thielke, John Thielke and Tom Vielbig    

Questions & Answers

Did the Council vote against the Environmental Education Center?  NO, they strongly support the Center, which they approved in 2010. They voted against our request for a Bridge Loan for the last 25% (or so) of the budget, citing concerns with loaning funds. We’ve always intended to privately fund the Center, and those efforts will continue. 

Does the NO Vote mean the Center will not be built? NO, the Environmental Education Center will be built, but the timing is pushed back a bit.

When do you expect construction to begin? We’re working to develop options for funding the rest of the budget now. Construction could begin as soon as Fall 2016. More information will be coming soon.

How long will construction take? Construction of the Shell of the building will take 3-5 days. The building has been designed with a significant portion pre-fabricated, to assure quality of construction and minimize disruption during construction. Finishing work will take another month, mostly with a handful of workers parking in the arboretum or pool lot, again, minimizing disruption to the neighborhood.

What is the master plan (mission statement)?  To build a classroom in the woodlands and an all season gathering place for the community. The center will take the arboretum into its next phase of use and enjoyment.

Is this a Commercial Development? Our fee schedule mentions “commercial photography” (only to differentiate professional photographers scheduling photo shoots from residents taking nature or family photos, etc.). We are a not-for profit 501(c)3 Organization, and this is not a commercial development.

Who will pay for Utilities? Electric & water are conservatively estimated at $500 / month, paid by Glen Rock Boro.

Who will pay for internet access? FOGRA will cover internet and IT expenses.

Who will pay for Maintenance? FOGRA is setting aside $2,000 per year in reserve for maintenance & repairs. Daily cleaning & maintenance will be handled by FOGRA.

Who will pay for Insurance? FOGRA has always paid for D&O (Directors & Officers) Liability. This will continue. The Arboretum has always been under the Boro Liability Umbrella, as all town facilities are, and this would continue.

Who will pay for legal costs or judgments in the event of an injury? Handled as it has been in all Boro assets.

Who will pay for security systems? FOGRA will pay for security systems, unless the town decides they need security tied in with a central system.

Who will guarantee the loan? There is currently no loan guarantee. The repayment plan is for 7 years at $34,000 per year. We currently have (approx.) 2.5 years covered (just under $22,000 per year). In the last 5 years, we’ve raised over $260,000, or $52,000 per year. That’s with NO BUILDING. We will raise the funds.

Why now? Why not wait and raise all of the funds? Mostly for timing issues. First, in the past 5 years, we’ve raised over $260,000, but at some point momentum becomes an issue. Second, every delay in the start brings an increase in the cost of the project. Lastly, the DEP provided an LOI (Letter of Interpretation) for the area we are building. When the LOI expires, there are additional costs to re-file and get approval.

Where did the price of $638,000 come from? The $638,000 cost was developed with the Architect (actually 3 firms), a leading modular construction firm, the town Engineer (Boswell), and under the review of multiple contractors reviewing every facet of the building.

Isn’t $638,000 a lot for a 1,750 ft2 building? Yes. The design incorporates high quality materials like cellulose insulation (85% recycled, no outgassing, great R-Value & low embodied energy) with 2% of the energy that is used for foam and 10% for fiberglass. The design is ADA Compliant, and uses pre-fabricated construction (significantly reducing neighborhood disruption, build time, and increasing quality). Lastly, public buildings are required to follow ‘Prevailing Wage’ rules, which impacts labor rates for most laborers.

Who handles use restrictions? As it has been, FOGRA will control use via our agreement/lease with the borough but anyone can use the arboretum if they agree to the terms of our Use Agreement (similar to other Arboretum contracts). This Use Agreement has been in place for years, there’s nothing new.

Who controls the building – does anything change after the loan is repaid? Nothing changes. We are donating the building to the Boro. The building belongs to the Boro of Glen Rock.

Who will own the building? This building is being paid for by FOGRA and donated to the Boro & residents.

Is there a construction performance bond? The construction performance bond will be purchased by the contractor and has been allowed for in our cost estimates.

How many visitors monthly? Once fully operational visitors should average 200-400 per month (excluding events & the thousands of volunteer hours already spent there each year to maintain and beautify the arboretum).

How much staffing, what will it cost & who pays? Volunteers led by a FOGRA team will staff the center. 

Will the building and site be ADA compliant? Yes, the building was designed compliant. The building setback is similar to most GR homes, and all requirements for compliance are in the budget.

Whose web page and at what cost? FOGRA pays for & maintains its own web page

Who will run the classes and summer camp? Volunteers run all programs.

How many bathrooms and stalls? Two unisex restrooms. One is handicap accessible.

Will there be any selling of goods or services on site? There is no Gift Shop. The closest we’d get to a commercial enterprise is to sell baked goods at a fishing derby, etc.

Will residents & family have to pay fees? No, there will not be a fee to visit the Education Center. There will be a nominal fee to hold an event, and there may be a donation box.

Will applications be made to zoning board? The town will handle zoning issues because it’s on town property.

Will the Mayor and council members be permanent members of Arboretum Board of Governors? No, we will continue to report to the council as we always have.

Will future revenue be given to Glen Rock? No. This is not a revenue generating facility. It is designed to be a place for learning, inspiration, and support to the many visitors to the arboretum. Additional funds would be placed in the repairs reserve and to maintain and support the arboretum.

What accounting mechanism is in place? Our financials are run by the CFO of a multi-million dollar company with decades of experience. Books are audited regularly, and we have full D&O (Directors & Officers) liability coverage. FOGRA will continue to comply with its own bylaws and mission statement is all respects as to the EEC.

Has there been an environmental impact study? No. This building will cover .00365 of the land in the arboretum (under 4/10 of 1%). The building will follow LEEDS (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) standards. These comprehensive design and construction standards help assure that there is minimal impact in all areas of design and construction. This building will have minimal impact.

Has there been a traffic impact study? No. This building will have far fewer visitors than, for example, the pool next door. Our prime visitor traffic is expected to be during the school year (September – November, and February – June), and during school hours. It is expected that school groups would park in the pool lot. We can’t accept large groups, as we try to provide Docents for every 6-8 children – we just don’t have that many available volunteers.

How will police / fire / waste collection access the building if it is in the arboretum? The building will have about the same setback off Doremus as your home. Access will not be an issue.

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Glen Rock, NJ
Updated Friday, February 12, 2016 8:30 AM
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Friends of the Glen Rock Arboretum, Inc. is a not-for-profit, 501( c)3 volunteer organization, dedicated to the preservation, maintenance and development of the Arboretum.


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