RED BANK – “We wanted to open this up to the public and say, ‘This is a blank space. What do you want here?’” said Borough Councilman Erik Yngstrom, about opening the door for public input for a proposed West Side park.
Yngstrom, chairman of the council’s Parks and Recreation Committee, hosted a public input session and concept design kickoff with other borough officials and consulting engineers at Pilgrim Baptist Church, 172 Shrewsbury Ave., on April 6.
Borough residents were asked what they would like to see at a borough-owned property at the western end of West Sunset Avenue. Comments and questions can also be submitted through a survey posted on the borough website at redbanknj.org through April 21.
The approximately 8 1/2-acre property overlooking the Swimming River had been the borough’s landfill and home to its trash incinerator. The incinerator was shut down in the 1980s and the property capped with clean fill. With some financial support from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the incinerator’s smokestack was demolished in 2009. Officials have long discussed the property’s future use and continue to search out available funding to clean up the location and plan for its future.
Using remediated landfill sites for parks is not uncommon, Gregoria said, pointing out such examples as Fresh-kills Park, Staten Island, New York; Gowanus Canal Sponge Park in Brooklyn, New York; and Newark River front Park in New Jersey.
From those in attendance, “We got a lot of good feedback,” Yngstrom recalled. People expressed interest in using portions of the site for a skate park. Others, he said, would like to see some of it dedicated for passive recreation and for nature, hiking and jogging trails. Some residents voiced their interest in making sure some of the property is dedicated as a natural area, for accessibility to the Swimming River and for educational uses, Yngstrom noted.
“There were a wide range of opinions,” Gregoria said, with some supporting using part of the location for the community garden.
Once the survey closes, the data will be collected by the engineers and the parks and recreation committee will evaluate the proposals, Yngstrom said.
Gregoria said the information will be used to draft a concept plan which will be presented to the DEP for its consideration.
The overall project will likely take a few years before leading to a usable public space, Gregoria concluded.
This article was first published in the April 20-27, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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