Elizabeth, NJ – One of the largest remaining farmsteads in Union County has been transformed into the Esposito Farm Park on Madison Hill Road in Clark. The $2.9 million cost of the new 13-acre County park was funded through the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.
“On behalf of my colleagues on the Union County Freeholder Board, I would like to thank the residents of Clark for working with us to make Esposito Farm Park a reality,” said Freeholder Nancy Ward, who is Chair of the Trust Fund. “This is yet another example of the extraordinary success that the Trust Fund has had in improving the quality of life in neighborhoods throughout Union County.”
“This is a great day for Clark, and we’d like to extend our appreciation to the Freeholder Board for making the Esposito Farm Park happen,” said Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso. “This property is dear to the hearts of many long-time residents who recall it as a working farm, and now it is preserved to share with today’s generation and many more to come.”
An official opening ceremony was held on Wednesday, October 22. At the ceremony, checks totaling an additional $1.3 million were distributed to all 19 Union County municipalities that applied for 2008 grants under the Union County Kids Recreation Trust Fund. The grants go to local field improvements, recreation scholarships, and equipment purchases.
Esposito Farm Park was designed with community input as a county park that has a “local park” feel. Its centerpiece is a large freshwater wetland encircled by a half-mile walking path, providing ample scenic views. The path includes fitness stations and benches.
The park also contains tennis courts, a softball/soccer field, a playground, picnic area, skateboard park, and restrooms. Located in a densely populated area, it is easily accessed by walking, biking, and public transportation as well as by car. Ample parking and handicapped access are provided.
A new earthen berm with trees and shrubs buffers the park from traffic on Madison Hill Road, and additional plantings screen nearby residences.
The Kids Recreation Trust Fund is a program of the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, which was established in 2000 by popular referendum. The initial goal was to preserve 100 acres of land in ten years. So far, the Trust Fund has acquired over 300 acres for new County parks while also funding scores of local recreation and historic preservation projects.
In Clark alone, Union County has preserved six different properties including the Esposito Farm. All together, the six properties cover more than 195 acres, purchased for a total of $23.9 million from the Trust Fund.
Together, the six properties form a continuous greenway along the Rahway River. Greenways are central to the 6,600 acre Union County Parks System as envisioned by Olmsted Brothers, the firm that planned the county’s first parks in the 1920’s. Olmsted Brothers is the same renowned firm that designed Central Park. The riverside greenways provide habitat for local species and migrating birds, as well as recreation and natural storm drainage.
Esposito Farm Park was named in honor of its previous owner, Peter J. Esposito, a local farmer known for his generosity and dedication to land preservation. Union County’s decision to buy the land forestalled the construction of a high-density development on the property.