When I moved into Demarest from the neighboring town of Closter 10 years ago I was barely interested in the beauty of the duck pond or the intricacy of the after-school traffic patterns. At that point in my life I was just entering the 5th grade in a brand new town where I only knew a couple of people. For the first few years of my school career in Demarest I was driven to school and I did not gain much appreciation for my surroundings but that changed around the time I entered the 7th grade. When I grew old enough my parents decided I could bike to school instead of getting a ride since it would be good exercise and I loved riding my bike. I used to cut through the woods near my house and take back roads right to the school, usually arriving in a sweat because the journey had a few hills. It was on these bike rides in the early years of my life where I learned to love the beauty of my small town.
One feature of my town is the Demarest duck pond. The duck pond is expansive and it extends deep into several other towns surrounding mine. Here, I was standing on a bridge that is used every day that effectively splits Demarest in half. This is the view from the south side of the bridge. I have fond memories of this bridge since I would cross it every single day after middle school to walk into our downtown area. I think the sound of the calm water combined with the lush green environment created by all the trees makes for a really pretty scene. This brings me to the first ugly part of my town, which is coincidently placed directly next to the duck pond.
What makes for a more beautiful picture than our gorgeous, natural duck pond area blocked off by a nasty, metal information board that ultimately informs the public of useless info? The town decided to place this digital sign here several years ago for some reason. I do not understand what motivation they would have because while it does give out info, it is truly placed in the worst spot in the town. Luckily the view is preserved from many other angles. Still, this is a corner of an extremely busy intersection and it should look nice in my opinion. The next issue I have with my town revolves around this intersection.
This is the intersection of County and Hardenburgh roads. These roads are normally only moderately busy since Demarest is a pretty small town but at peak times, specifically after school gets dismissed, they are a nightmare. The problem here lies in the traffic lights inability to compensate for the volume of traffic driving straight on County. In the picture above, County is the road that black Ford is turning onto and Hardenburgh is the road the silver Lincoln (I think) is driving on. Right up county road, toward the direction the black Ford is heading is a middle school that dismisses everyday at 3:05 PM. This becomes a huge problem because County road fills up with traffic and anyone trying to make a left from County onto Hardenburgh can end up waiting 15 minutes for one turn. Sometimes the town hires a traffic cop to try to alleviate some of the congestion but it is truly an unworkable solution without simply adding a protected left to the light. Still, this congestion and traffic is limited to about 1 hour after school is dismissed and it is quiet most of the time so this is not a major problem. Since the town is so small (approx. 1 mile square) police and fire response time is excellent, which is another factor that makes Demarest a safe and secure town.
Located directly in the middle of the town, the Demarest Fire and Police departments are perfectly positioned geographically. When viewing the town from above on Google Maps, it becomes clear how centered the stations truly are. This is a great feature of my town because it means that when the police or fire are called, they respond immediately. I have had to call police to my house in the past and they have arrived in under five minutes. This is probably somewhat standard for small suburban towns, but it is something that I like and think the town thought out well. Demarest is well designed because it features a healthy balance of form and function for the most part. The Demarest volunteer firehouse is functional as it houses firetrucks; but it is also elegant and it looks really nice. Little details like this show in a town’s design and they matter. Just down the street from the stations is a little gazebo that is on your right as you enter Wakely field.
Located directly across the street from the pond in the first picture, the gazebos stands proudly in a green field right next to Wakely field and Demarest down town. While I never personally spent that much time in this gazeebo, I have watched as the town has had small concerts where people will set out blankets and have picnics as they listen to the live music. This kind of small building, while insignificant in size can have such a massive impact on the public’s quality of life. It also perfectly counterbalances our extremely ugly downtown area which is my final complaint about Demarest.
Taken from the parking lot of Bank of America, welcome to Demarest Downtown. While there is also a deli, a dry-cleaners and a nail-salon down the road a bit, this is the main stretch. We have a liquor store, a pizzeria, a Dunkin Donuts and a Greek place which has terrible Greek food. The reason the downtown is so disappointing is because both functionally and formally, it is terrible. The grayed out bleak colors of the buildings matched with the scarcity of them makes the town seem colder than it is and without life. I understand the town is probably trying to avoid congestion and traffic by not placing more commercial business but it seems like it has a negative net effect. All in all it adds an ugly stain to an otherwise beautiful town. That is how I feel about Demarest in general. It is a beautiful town with ugly blotches here and there that take away from but do not eliminate its beauty.