Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that a grant of $275,000 has been awarded toward the restoration of Briant Park in Summit and Springfield. The grant, from the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, will match a state Green Acres grant received by the Briant Park Olmsted Conservancy.
“The Freeholder Board is very proud to engage in this unique civic partnership with The Briant Park Olmsted Conservancy, which has worked diligently to help restore a treasured public resource for all Union County residents,” said Freeholder Chairman Christopher Hudak.
The Union County parks system includes 36 parks totaling more than 6,700 acres. Briant Park is 51 acres.
“Briant Park is relatively small, but it occupies a key place in the history of our system as an Olmsted Park and one of the original parts of the system,” said Freeholder Bruce Bergen, Chairman of the Union County Open Space Trust Fund. “These improvements are consistent with its historic nature.”
Union County was among the very first counties in the U.S. to preserve land for public recreation, and Briant Park was designed in the 1930’s by the Olmsted brothers, sons of the renowned landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York, Frederick Olmsted.
Like other original Union County parks, Briant Park shares the historic Olmsted legacy of serene natural settings in the midst of a developed urban area.
Briant Park features a paved walking path with fitness stations. The path meanders through large grassy fields and towering trees, and around a generously proportioned pond.
In addition to the walking path, activities in the park include fishing and a tree-shaded picnic area with grills. In past years, when colder winters were the norm, local residents also used the pond for ice skating. Sledding is still a favorite winter activity on the park’s gentle western slope.
The new improvements will include a gazebo to provide a sheltered seating area, and a new nature trail. The new trail will be laid with wood chips to complement the natural feel of the park environment.
Other improvements include new plantings and soil restoration, pruning and removal of dead trees, new benches including wheelchair access to seating areas, period sign posts, restoration of a retaining wall on the west slope, and aesthetic improvements to an existing footbridge.
Earlier this year, the Briant Park Olmsted Conservancy (BPOC), an independent non-profit organization, secured a grant from the State of New Jersey Open Space/Green Acres Program in the amount of $275,000 towards rehabilitation of the park. With the matching Trust Fund grant approved by the Freeholder Board, the total of available funding will be $550,000.
Rich Picerno Builders, LLC of Kenilworth has been awarded a contract for the Briant Park improvements in the amount of $308, 294.00. Additional engineering costs will be determined pending the results of the bidding process for that aspect of the project.
The Union County Open Space, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund was established by popular referendum in 2000 with overwhelming support from Union County voters.
Since its inception, the Trust Fund has enabled Union County to restore and improve services at County parks, contribute to local preservation and recreation efforts, and add hundreds of acres of preserved open space to County parklands including brownfields reclaimed for public recreation.
For information on all Union County parks and recreation activities, visit ucnj.org/parks.