Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that acquisition of 112 Park Drive in Cranford has been completed. The property consists of an “elbow” of land and a street that protrude into Nomahegan Park. It is currently occupied by an abandoned house. Now under County ownership, the house and its accompanying section of street will be removed.
The .59-acre parcel was purchased with $515,000 from the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. The closing took place on Friday morning, November 22.
“Adding land for public recreation is a rare achievement in our densely developed area,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “This small but significant parcel will improve a popular walking trail and add more than a half-acre to the natural habitat in the park, while removing a neighborhood eyesore.”
“Completing the trail will make a significant difference to Union County residents and visitors, and it is a great benefit for participants in organized walk-run events that take place in the park. This purchase provides a wonderful example of the impact that the Trust Fund has on the Union County community, as we strive to create more recreation opportunities for the public and preserve our natural heritage for future generations,” said Freeholder Sergio Granados, who is chairman of the Trust Fund.
“Recreational space has been a priority of the Cranford Township Committee. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Freeholder Chair Kowalski, Open Space Chair Freeholder Granados, and the Union County Freeholders to acquire this property and expand recreational space at Nomahegan Park. We look forward to much needed beautification of the property,” said Cranford Mayor Patrick Giblin.
The Nomahegan trail is a paved pathway that meanders through the park. At the southern end it is interrupted by Park Drive, which curves around the abandoned house. Trail users – including walkers, joggers, skaters, and cyclists of all ages – must enter the street to continue on to the other end of the trail.
The house at 112 Park Drive was vacated in 2007. Union County expressed interest in purchasing the property as early as 2010. Periodic negotiations with the owners continued until last summer, when an agreement was reached.
Nomahegan Park hosts athletic fields, a lake where fishing is permitted, fitness equipment and a playground, as well as paved pathways and forested areas. The Rahway River also runs through the park.
Union County was one the first counties in the U.S. to establish a county-owned system of public parks. Union County’s park system began construction in the 1920’s, after local preservationists became concerned over rapid development in the area.
Through public support for the Trust Fund and other land preservation initiatives over the years, the Union County park system has grown to include 36 parks totaling more than 6,700 acres.
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