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Proposal to sell municipal land to County for improvement


Elizabeth, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced that plans are moving forward on an agreement to renovate Oakwood Park in New Providence, and to restore an adjacent nature area bordering the Passaic River.

“On behalf of the Freeholder Board, I would like to thank the citizens of New Providence for working to make this possible,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella.  “This is a creative solution that will bring a first-class recreation facility and nature preserve to the community.”

Oakwood Park is located by Commonwealth Avenue.  It currently houses ball fields, a playground, and two ponds.  At the park’s borders, a wooded area runs along the Passaic River.  This area is preserved for nature conservation.

The proposed arrangement calls for New Providence to sell the land to Union County for the nominal sum of $1.00.  With ownership under the County, improvements to Oakwood Park would be eligible for funding through the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

The work would be done using plans developed by New Providence. This includes sports fields, parking and playground improvements, a field house, and a restroom.

The riverside land would remain in its natural state.  The County would work with New Providence to plan projects for enhancing the habitat, such as removing invasive plants and replacing them with native species.  Walking trails would also be improved to prevent erosion along the river and its feeder streams.

The plans are subject to environmental review by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

“The combination of recreation with a riverside nature area dovetails with the historic vision of the original Union County Parks Commission, as realized by the Olmsted Brothers firm which designed the system in the 1920’s,” Freeholder Mirabella noted.

Olmsted Brothers is a descendent of the firm that designed Manhattan’s Central Park and many other historic parks in the Northeast.  For Union County, Olmsted Brothers designed an integrated system of narrow riverside greenways leading to open fields, lakes, conservation areas, and recreation areas.

Along with providing an ideal setting for hiking trails, the greenways preserve key habitats for wildlife and migrating birds.  They also provide natural stormwater control and help prevent flooding in neighborhoods.

Since the 1920’s, the Union County parks system has grown from 2,000 acres to include more than 6,600 acres.  The most recent acquisitions and improvements have been made possible through the Union County Open Space, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, established by public referendum in 2000.