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‘Unsafe’ slope targeted for improved path

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LYNDHURST – 

For the past five years or so, township residents without wheels have had to plod down Valley Brook Ave. to get to practices or games at the Lyndhurst Recreation Center complex.

That’s hardly a good option since that section of Valley Brook lacks sidewalks and is a conduit to the approach to the industrial area and access to Rt. 3.

But now the township is taking steps to provide an improved and safer approach to the playing fields hosting recreation soccer, softball and baseball, and also used by Lyndhurst High School, Felician College, the New York Red Bulls, and for county girls’ softball and baseball tourneys.

This month, Cifelli & Son General Contracting, Inc., of Nutley is preparing to tackle the job of creating the “Lyndhurst Recreation Center Upper Access Way Improvements” project by smoothing out and making more navigable a dirt/rock/grass path that slopes down the backside of Valley Brook Ave. from the Orient Way intersection – with access via Newark Ave. – to the athletic complex. The township governing body awarded Cifelli a contract for $248,839 on Feb. 11 to do the job.

To offset part of the cost, Lyndhurst will apply $122,500 of a 2009 matching grant from the Bergen County Open Space, Recreation, Farmland & Historic Preservation Trust Fund to the project.

Currently, a locked entrance gate blocks access to the path leading down to the recreation complex.

“It’s not safe the way it is now,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Tom DiMaggio. “When this space was created about five years ago, it was a bad design but we’re making the best of it.”

Aside from leveling out portions of the path, the contractor will be installing railings and fencing. “Our engineers have determined that the hill itself is structurally sound,” DiMaggio said.

At the top of the slope, the township will post signs prohibiting the use of skateboards and bicycles down the path for safety reasons, DiMaggio said.

Bid specifications for the job call for completion within a month from the time the contractor starts to work so it’s hoped that residents will get to use the improved walking path before summer’s over.

Looking down from the top of the hill provides “a great vantage point to view the games” below, the commissioner noted.

It’s a worthwhile investment, not only from the safety perspective, but because the complex is so heavily used, said township Public Works Superintendent Richard Gress.

“Seven days a week, fall and spring, there are kids and adults down there,” Gress said. “The place never goes to sleep.”

And, down the road, it may get even busier since the township recreation program is considering scheduling lacrosse games at the complex.

– Ron Leir 

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