Towns awarded Green Acres ca$h

REGION –

Public recreation in The Observer coverage area can expect to share in a potof New Jersey Green Acres cash outlays this year.

Statewide, the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees distribution of Green Acres funding, has projected a total allocation of $80.7 million to local/county governments and nonprofit land trusts to acquire open space, develop parks and perform stewardship activities on parks.

All funding “is contingent upon the Legislature’s passage of an appropriation bill,” the DEP has cautioned.

Hudson County

Kearny has been approved for a $1 million matching grant award toward the municipal Gunnell Oval Sports Complex reconstruction.

As an “urban aid municipality,” Kearny would be eligible for a 75% grant and 25% loan, repayable at no interest over 30 years.

Last year, Kearny was approved for a $1.1 million Green Acres grant for which it must commit $2,465,150 in local dollars as its “match,” according to town CFO Shuaib Firozvi.

The DEP says the money can be applied to “long range and comprehensive improvement to the [Oval] facilities,” including “a synthetic turf field, fencing, backstops, bleachers, batting tunnel, benches, dugout shelter, pitching mounds, lighting, basketball court, concession and restroom facilities, drainage and paving.”

Kearny was previously awarded a $500,000 Hudson County Open Space grant forthe Oval project and is currently seeking an additional $500,000, Firozvi said.

The town also has received an $84,451 state HDSRG (Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Grant which, according to Firozvi, “is helping with environmental and engineering costs” associated with the Oval.

Because the project will require raising the land out of flood zone and installing a drainage system and pump station, the overall cost figures to reach around $20 million. Mayor Alberto Santos wants to get the job started before year’s end.

Michael Neglia, the town’s consulting engineer, has projected 1.5 to 2 yearsto complete the work and the town is considering spending up to $500,000 to light the back of Harvey Field to accommodate soccer play during the Oval’s closure.

Elsewhere in the region, a $213,250 matching grant award has been proposed for the Town of Harrison for “land acquisition” to be applied to the Waterfront Park Walkway project.

In February, Harrison was approved for a $1.8 million Natural Resource Restoration grant from DEP to cover acquisition costs and in June, the town applied for a $1 million Hudson County Open Space grant for the same purpose.

As explained by DEP, Harrison views the walkway as a “key component” of the revitalization of former industrial space along the Passaic River and to that end, the town is in the process of acquiring 5.1 acres of land, combined with a vacant, town-owned lot, “to complete this phase of the walkway.”

Essex County

Belleville is to get a $1 million matching grant to help “develop and rehabilitate recreational fields at Belleville Municipal Stadium on Nolton Ave.”

The stadium currently houses four ballfields, a synthetic turf football field and artificial turf multipurpose field and the funding would facilitate “removing two of the existing ballfields; installing a multi-sport facility, including a synthetic track and field event area and a synthetic turf field for softball, football and soccer; installing a track drainage system; new fencing; new and relocated lighting; and landscape improvements,” the DEP says.

Because it is an urban-aid municipality, Belleville would be awarded a 75% grant and 25% no-interest loan for the project.

Nearby Nutley is in line for a $262,586 matching grant, coupled with an $87,529 loan, for a combined total of $350,115 “to replace the existing synthetic turf at the Father Glotzbach soccer field” off Park Ave.

As the DEP sees it, the project deserves funding because the field “is in almost constant use for a minimum of 10 months a year” as “the dedicated soccer and lacrosse field for recreation and travel leagues, the high school teams and the general public, [and] in the summer, it hosts Camp Nutley and other sports clinics … [and] has outlived its useful life. With its replacement, the tradition of active, safe recreational use will continue.”

Elsewhere in Nutley, playground areas at Yanticaw Park – a facility run by Essex County – will be refurbished with a share of a total of $1.1 million in matching grant awards including renovations to the baseball field and stadium at Riverbank Park, Newark; improvements to the field house at Vailsburg Park, Newark; and refurbishing of playgrounds at Verona Park and Grover Cleveland Park straddling Caldwell and Essex Fells.

Bloomfield is due for a $1 million matching grant toward the acquisition of a 12.7-acre parcel along the Third River and Spring Brook, next to a 5.6-acre township-owned property accessed by Lion’s Gate Drive. The township plans “to restore the flood plain and associated wetlands, creating flood storage area and wildlife habitat,” says DEP.

Bergen County

North Arlington is to receive a $59,800 matching grant to be applied to construction of a hydraulic-powered water spray pad for toddlers and tots at Daniel Morris Park on River Road on the banks of the Passaic River. Improvements include utilities, drainage and walkways to access the project.

And the Passaic River Rowing Association has been earmarked a $250,000 matching grant “to expand an existing boathouse in Riverside County Park South in Lyndhurst and North Arlington on Riverside Drive.”

The new facility will provide “additional boat storage, indoor training facilities, bathrooms and showers, locker rooms and meeting space, all in support of outdoor recreation,” the DEP says.

 

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.