The Union County Board of County Commissioners is pleased to announce the signing of a formal agreement to acquire a vacant property located at 735-737 Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights. The property will become part of the Passaic River Parkway county park. Funding for the acquisition was provided by the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.
“We are coming to the successful conclusion of a long process, which will result in an improvement in public access to open space as well as a benefit for habitat preservation in Union County. The Springfield Avenue parcel will help complete the Passaic River Parkway as a connecting greenway between three municipalities and beyond,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams.
“The Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund received overwhelming support when it was first established by popular referendum more than 20 years. We are very proud to carry on its mission of expanding and preserving open space in Union County.” said Commissioner Alexander Mirabella, who is Chair of the Trust Fund.
“The support of the Township of Berkeley Heights was an important factor in the process, and it has been a real pleasure working together to expand and improve the Passaic River Parkway. This new acquisition is a rare opportunity to restore land for public parks in our densely developed area. ” said Union County Manager Edward T. Oatman.
“It’s been a long road that has brought us here today. I want to thank the County for their vigilance and recognition of the importance of keeping the former Berkeley Caterers property as green space. This is a big win for our Township,” said Berkeley Heights Mayor Angie Devanney.
The Springfield Avenue property consists of a 1.349 acre site adjacent to the Passaic River on one side. Two other sides are bordered by Union County’s Passaic River Parkway, a preserved greenway that runs along the Passaic River through New Providence and Summit as well as Berkeley Heights.
The property was formerly occupied by the Berkeley Catering venue. After the business closed in 2018, Mayor Devanney invited Union County Manager Oatman to tour the site and consider its future use as County parkland.
Open space preservation has been a priority for generations of Union County residents. Union County is one of the very first counties in the U.S. to establish its own park system, beginning with a set of five parks encompassing 2,000 acres in the 1920’s. Through continued support from the public, the system has grown to include 36 parks and more than 6,760 acres hosting a range of activities for the public, as well as nature conservation and historic preservation.
Acquisitions over the past 20 years have been supported by the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, established by referendum in the year 2000.
Final closing on the property is expected in the coming weeks.
For more information about the Union County parks system visit ucnj.org/parks-recreation.
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