Riverside Forester Michael Collins hands a gift bag to landscape volunteer Carolyn Huson, who has donated nearly 3,000 hours and $30,000 toward planting and maintaining the village’s longcommon, during a presentation at the March 17 village board meeting. | Bob Uphues/Editor

Riverside Village Forester Michael Collins on March 17 recognized volunteer Carolyn Huson for her tireless physical and financial efforts to maintain the longcommon, which was a signature design element of Frederick Law Olmsted’s 1869 General Plan of Riverside.

During a presentation at that evening’s village board meeting, Collins thanked all of the volunteers, in particular the members of the Frederick Law Olmsted Society,  who help maintain Riverside’s green spaces who have donated thousands of hours of labor and tens of thousands of dollars for reforestation and other public plantings.

The Olmsted Society’s workdays – some 160 of them throughout the past 17 years – have provided Riverside with 8,000 hours of volunteer labor. FLOS in that time has also donated $63,000 to the village for landscape maintenance and plantings. 

Collins personally thanked the FLOS Landscape Committee co-chairs, Cindy Kellogg and Holly Machina, and gave a shout-out to hardcore volunteers Sean McMullen, Ken Pearlman, Jim Burns, Joel Marhoul, Bob Finn, Tom Guardi and the late Mark Ross, along with landscape consultant Shawn Sinn.

But he singled out Huson, who Collins called “The Lady of the Longcommon,” for her devotion to maintaining the greenway that extends between Longcommon and Nuttall roads from Herrick to Shenstone.

“She’s out there almost every day weeding, almost rain or shine depending on how bad it is,” Collins said. “She has really worked incredibly hard on the longcommon and her impacts are so noteworthy.”

In 2010, said Collins, Huson started tracking her hours. Since then, Huson has logged nearly 3,000 volunteer hours, which translates into $74,000 in labor value at what the village pays its seasonal employees, $15 an hour.

“If you used the national [pay] average it’d be almost double that,” Collin said.

Huson has also donated nearly $30,000 to the village during that same time period for planting trees, shrubs and perennials on the longcommon.

“She probably prioritizes the longcommon over her own garden,” Collins said. “I really think she deserves to be acknowledged as an amazing volunteer.”