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Library Garden Gets Makeover

Sometimes a few splashes of greenery in just the right place can make all the difference in the world. Case in point — the beautiful new outdoor patio garden at the Massapequa Public Library’s Bar Harbour branch.

Situated in a walled-off outdoor area, originally the environment of the patio was a bland affair, with a small waterfall and two small trees breaking up a rock-strewn pavement. Library patron were invited to sit outside, but with nothing to look at but four walls, few ever did.

Until now, that is.

When new Director of the Massapequa Public Library Janis A. Schoen took over her position in November of 2011, Bar Harbour’s outdoor patio was one of the first areas she felt needed her attention.

“One of the things I saw was this patio area that had a lot of potential, but it needed some work,” she said. “I asked the board if we could remove the rocks, cement over the ground, and add some nice patio furniture and a nice low brick wall so people could sit and enjoy the waterfall.”

The Library Board of Trustees approved Schoen’s requests, but the Director still felt that something was lacking. Looking to add a hook to the garden that only nature could provide, she contacted the Fort Neck Garden Club of Massapequa and conferred with John Giovenco, the club’s only male member and a regular at the library.

Giovenco, who joined the Fort Neck Garden Club just over a year ago, has been a Massapequa Park resident for 60 years and an active part of local affairs for just as long.

“I’m a community-minded person. I volunteer for 15 organizations, and my family was avid gardeners,” he said. “My mother and father appreciated the beauty and we liked to give back to the community...they were avid go-getters, so I’m part of that network.”

“Janis has approached me a while ago and asked if the Fort Neck Garden Club would be interested in doing a project for the library,” Giovenco continued. “We thought that would be a great idea.”

According to President Kathleen Gramarossa, the Fort Neck Garden Club, first started in 1954, is a small group of close-knit members who enjoy each other’s company, as well as helping the community however they can.

“We raise money and give it to groups like Veteran’s organizations and graduates of horticulture programs, things like that,” she said. “We sell things and hold fundraisers to get the money together.”

Schoen knew the Garden Club had the vision to transform the Bar Harbour library’s patio into a warm, inviting place for patrons, and that John Giovenco was the man to get the job done.

“I told John that this could be something special, and he took the ball and ran with it,” she said. “He told us what to purchase, and he had help from my custodians to put down the dirt, and he transformed the garden into something beautiful.”

Giovenco said that his makeover philosophy for the library’s patio garden was simple yet to the point- a variety of plants and flower to create warmth and tranquility for all who enter.

“I had added a lot of plants- perennials, annuals, and some artificial flowers in-between. And we also did a lot of rock formations,” he said. “But that’s not all...we’re going to be doing a lot of seasonal work here, so we’re going to have different themes. For example, in the winter, we’re going to do a fall/autumn look with scarecrows and pumpkins.”

“We want the community to come, and they do come regularly now...they never even knew this existed until Janice publicized it,” he added. “We’re proud that people are really enjoying it.”

Schoen said that the Central Avenue library has a lovely outdoor patio area of it’s own that was recently updated; now, thanks to the efforts of the Fort Neck Garden Club, patrons of the Bar Harbour library have one to call their own as well.

“I’m seeing more and more people sitting out there now...people will just pick up a book, and mosey out there and read a while,” she said. “On a beautiful day, it’s just gorgeous to sit out, we have electric outlets so people can use their laptops. It’s really being utilized a lot more, and we owe it to the Fort Neck Garden Club.”