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Healing garden to open in Nissequogue park

A healing garden is to be unveiled at Nissequogue River State Park Wednesday night, through volunteer and fundraising efforts of two Kings Park-area groups.

The Nissequogue River State Park Foundation and Commack-Kings Park Rotary Club raised about $25,000 in cash and donations of services since last year to fund the garden, said John McQuaid, foundation chairman.

The garden is in a 35-foot-by-35-foot grassy area, complete with a crushed stone walking path, native plants and large rocks that overlook the mouth of the Nissequogue River, McQuaid said, adding that the groups hope to add benches.

"It's a very quiet corner of the park that very few people go to," he said. "We hope it becomes a place where people go to enjoy the natural beauty of the environment and to pause and reflect."

Brian Foley, deputy Long Island region director of the state parks office, said the office reviewed the plans for the garden, which "complements other amenities that we offer at Nissequogue River State Park. . . . It connects to the historic use of the property of trying to heal those who came to the [former] Kings Park Psychiatric Center."

Pat Biancaniello, a board member of both the rotary club and park foundation, who conceived of the idea, said she hopes visitors gain "inner peace. . . . If it helps them get through some of those challenging times, then we've succeeded at what we hope to do."

A public dedication ceremony for the garden is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. A wine and cheese fundraiser for improving the garden ($50 per person, $75 per couple) is planned from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

"It's symbolic of what the state is going to do as they renovate the park," rotary club president Philip Facquet said of the garden. "A lot of those buildings are scheduled to come down. ... We're just hoping that it draws some people to the park."

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