MacGregor Park History
The Beals parcels were historic wetlands, part of the Great Dismal Swamp. They were known to be heavily involved in the Abolition Movement and this area at the intersection of US31/SR38 is a documented UR site, and listed in the National Archives.
Eventually, the Dismal Swamp was drained for use as cropland and continues to be farmed today. However, a recent assessment of the property revealed that the over 100 year-old tiles are failing and there is evidence of the reformation of wetlands in several areas, confirming this as a valuable ecological site.
Sheila MacGregor Beals was born in 1909 in Scotland. After WWII, Sheila moved to the United States and met her husband, Lyndon Beals.
Sheila enjoyed driving around the Westfield countryside and if she saw an animal in need, she would take it food and water or whatever else she could do to help. She was also an avid gardener. The current exterior trail follow part of her daily walks of the property.
In 1999, the family of Shelia MacGregor Beals donated 42 acres to start what is now part of the existing park. The wishes of Sheila were that the park be minimally developed and used only for passive nature activities, therefore it is protected by a Conservation Easement.
1997 Isaac Jones, Trustee, established Township Parks & Recreation Department
1999 Sheila MacGregor Beals donated 40 acres
2004 Received a Federal Land and Water Fund grant
2004 Construction began on the original 1.8 mile loop that mirrors Sheila’s path where she walked her dogs
2004 Built Trail Head, restrooms, raingarden, 16 parking spaces
2005 Awarded Urban Forestry Grant used to purchase 600 diverse trees on 9 acres along US 31
2005 Park programs are offered and staff created The “Flutter”, the quarterly program guide
2006 The original 1.8 miles of trail was completed
2008 MacGregor Park logo was designed by Sheila Connett, Ms. Beals’ Goddaughter
2009 Park officially opened in May
2010 Purchased 19 acres from Lindley Ditch to St Rd 38
2010 Adopted 5 year Comprehensive Plan
2010 The State created a park entrance was constructed off of St Rd 38
2010 Maintenance building was constructed near the trailhead
2010 Road was paved from the bridge to the restrooms and 16 parking spots were added
2011 Received Urban Forestry Grant used to plant additional 270 trees
2011 Picnic shelters were built
2012 Awarded the Bicentennial Nature Trust grant, received a donation from the Beals’ Trust to purchase land
2012 Purchased additional 40 acres of interior park land
2012 Eagle Scouts built bulletin board, mile markers, entrance sign near bridge and 12 benches
2013 Received a federal grant from the Land and Water Fund
2013 Upper Watershed Alliance Grant for pervious pavers in the plaza area
2013 Development and construction complete for the interior of the park
2013 Entrance sign installed
2013 Ribbon Cutting for park interior in October
2016 Adopted 2016-2020 Parks & Open Space Master Plan
2016 11 acre Wetland Mitigation planted 5,000 trees
2017 Board approved to acquire additional park land near MacGregor Park
2018 Board approved bond for purchase of park land
2019 Will celebrate the 10th anniversary of MacGregor Park in May