‘She is deeply missed’

Pennington dedicates arboretum in honor of former Business Administrator Eileen Heinzel

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When the borough arboretum officially opens in 2025 it will be known as – “The Eileen M. Heinzel Memorial Arboretum.”

Pennigton officials named the arboretum after the late Eileen Heinzel for her close to 20 years of service to the borough, accomplishments as borough administrator and key efforts in the building of the arboretum which is set for completion next year.

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Heinzel served in various capacities as a longtime councilwoman, borough administrator, planning board member and volunteer.

On May 6, with Paul Heinzel, her husband, and family in attendance through Zoom, Borough Council approved a resolution read by Mayor Jim Davy dedicating the arboretum to Eileen Heinzel, who passed away in 2022.

“The recognition is well deserved for Eileen and for her family,” Davy said. “We thank her through (Paul Heinzel).”

A grand opening for the arboretum is planned for spring 2025 and formal dedication will take place for the Eileen M. Heinzel Memorial Arboretum.

“I worked with Eileen both as a council member and as a business administrator,” said Robert Colavita, business administrator for Hopewell Valley Regional School District (HVRSD). “She came to me with the plans for the arboretum and I worked really hard with her to make that come true.

“She is deeply missed by me and many folks at the school district. I considered her a friend as well as a colleague, so it was nice to see that the arboretum was going to be dedicated to her.”

The arboretum is on more than two acres of land on the grounds of the Toll Gate Grammar School in Pennington.

The project is based on a plan that was developed in April 2018 by Michael Van Clef, stewardship director of the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS), a non-profit organization that preserves land and protects natural resources.

The resolution naming the arboretum after Eileen Heinzel reads as follows:

WHEREAS, Eileen Heinzel, who died too young, was an accomplished and beloved public official in the Borough of Pennington where she served for 16 years as a Library Volunteer (2004-2020), ten years as a Member of Borough Council (2004-2014), 15 years on the Planning Board (2007-2022), and eight years as Borough Administrator (2014-2022);

WHEREAS, Eileen’s accomplishments as Borough Administrator improved management of the Borough across the entire span of local government responsibilities, ranging from public works and the water utility to trees and solar energy, from renovation of Borough Hall and support for the Police Department and its officers to acquisition of open space and leading, with community participation, the development of the Pennington Library’s first strategic plan;

WHEREAS, prominent among Eileen’s achievements was her pivotal role in the creation of the Borough Arboretum;

WHEREAS, in 2017, as Borough Administrator, Eileen helped initiate a public collaboration with the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FOHVOS) and others toward creation of an arboretum on the lands of the Toll Gate School;

WHEREAS, in that year, the Borough used a grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) to retain Michael Van Clef, Stewardship Director of FOHVOS, to prepare a plan for the arboretum, which was completed in April 2018 with assistance from members of the Borough Environmental Commission, Shade Tree Committee, Open Space Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission and other community volunteers;

WHEREAS, the goal of these efforts was to create a native plant arboretum accessible to students, teachers, residents and the general public;

WHEREAS, under Eileen’s leadership the Borough acquired 2.8 acres at the rear of the school property, securing funding through the New Jersey Green Acres Program;

WHEREAS, when illness forced Eileen to resign from her position as Borough Administrator, the Arboretum was well on its way to fulfilling the community’s vision for it;

WHEREAS, as it nears completion and its grand opening in the Spring of 2025, the Arboretum can be viewed as a monument to the leadership of Eileen Heinzel and to the many Pennington residents and volunteers who made it happen;

WHEREAS, Borough Council therefore seeks to pay grateful tribute to Eileen, both for her contribution to this important project and for the selfless public service she represented throughout her career;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by Borough Council of the Borough of Pennington, that Pennington’s Arboretum on the former property of the Toll Gate School shall hereafter be known as “The Eileen M. Heinzel Memorial Arboretum.”

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