The new Elizabeth River Trail project in downtown Elizabeth will receive funds from the Union County Kids’ Recreation Trust Fund this year, as part of a countywide effort to improve children’s access to regular physical activity. When finished, the paved pathway will be accessible to all age groups for walking, biking, and more. (credit: Courtesy of Groundwork Elizabeth)
Union County, NJ – With a total of more than $1 million in matching grants from the Kids’ Recreation Trust Fund, municipalities across Union County are looking forward to upgrading playing fields, basketball courts, swimming pools, and other recreational facilities for children and families.
“Every day it seems that people talk about the problem of child obesity, but I am proud to say that actions speak louder than words in Union County,” said Freeholder Chairman Deborah P. Scanlon. “Union County residents have supported the Trust Fund since its inception, and it continues to help improve children’s access to healthy activities.”
The Kids’ Recreation Trust Fund was established as an initiative of Freeholder Angel G. Estrada in 2004, to help local recreation departments upgrade their facilities for children. It is a program of the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, established in 2000 by popular referendum.
The Kids’ Trust Fund consists of matching dollar-for-dollar grants that are based on proposals by local recreation departments. Eligible projects can include the improvement of existing playing fields and other facilities, or the construction of new facilities.
“By keeping the initiatives local, the Kids’ Trust Fund ensures that communities have the opportunity to plan for improvements that best suit the needs of their residents,” said Estrada.
Some of the projects eligible for the Kids’ Trust Fund are specific to children, such as playgrounds and youth-sized playing fields. Other projects cover popular activities that are accessible to a wide range of age groups.
One highlight of this year’s funding round is the Elizabeth River Trail. This all-ages project consists of a new paved path that will follow alongside the Elizabeth River through downtown Elizabeth, providing a pleasant urban environment for walking, jogging, roller skating or biking.
The new path will also serve Union County’s alternative transportation goals by providing local residents with a more safe and convenient way to commute across the city by foot or bicycle. It even has a regional economic development role to play.
“Projects that help children enjoy the outdoors also can also provide broad benefits to the whole community, and the Elizabeth River Trail is a good example of that,” said Estrada. “In future phases, it will join with the East Coast Greenway, a nationally significant bike trail that extends from Maine to the Florida Keys, which will bring new visitors to Union County and stimulate economic activity along the way.”
Other Kids Trust Fund highlights this year include improvements to municipal swimming pools in Cranford, Hillside, and Springfield, and new artificial turf for Al Kalla Park in Linden.
2011 Kids’ Recreation Trust Fund Matching Grant Awards:
Berkeley Heights: $20,000.00 – Field improvements.
Clark: $25,000.00 – Parks improvements.
Cranford: $35,000.00 – Improvements at municipal pool.
Elizabeth: $125,000.00 – Elizabeth River Trail project.
Fanwood: $50,000.00 – Various improvements to fields, trails, skate parks.
Garwood: $25,000.00 – continued progress at athletic field complex.
Hillside: $75,000.00 – Renovations to municipal pool.
Linden: $125,000.00 – Installation of artificial turf at Al Kalla Park.
Mountainside: $21,600.00 – Various field improvements (Deerfield Softball Field and Borough Hall Field).
New Providence: $25,000.00 – Field improvements at Leider Field.
Plainfield: $65,000.00 – Enhancements at Joe Black Jr. memorial baseball field.
Rahway: $44,250.00 – Improvements to eight basketball courts.
Roselle: $75,000.00 – Improvements to various playgrounds.
Roselle Park: $35,000.00 – Improvements to Aldene Park.
Scotch Plains: $40,000.00 – Improvements to Kramer Tennis courts and Brookside Park paving.
Springfield: $75,000.00 – Improvements to municipal pool, roller hockey area, and athletic field.
Summit: $25,000.00 – Improvements at Summit field and Tatlock Park tennis courts.
Union: $100,000.00 – Improvements at Hall Stadium, Biertuempfel Park and general field improvements.
Westfield: $35,000.00 – Renovation of athletic fields at 1200 Boulevard.
For more information on any Union County press release, please contact Sebastian D’Elia, Communications Director for the County of Union, or a designee listed at the top of this press release. Please join the County of Union online at www.ucnj.org, on Facebook at www.ucnj.org/facebook, and on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/countyofunionnj.