Township Plans More Maintenance For Parks System and Open Space
Princeton Township has taken steps to enhance and improve open space in its first strategic work plan, which comes on the heels of a spate of open space land acquisitions.
Greg O'Neil, open space manager in the Township, said in a presentation before the Township Committee on Monday night that since acquiring and rebuilding Smoyer Park, Greenway Meadows, Coventry Farm, and the Gulick tract, the need to have a comprehensive upgrade and maintenance plan has come into play.
"Over the past 10 years, the Township has acquired open space in a rather exponential fashion," Mr. O'Neil said. "This activity has [created] the need for maintenance of these valuable resources in the community."
He added that of the 12 areas reserved for open space and recreation in the Township, five will undergo weekly maintenance, and the remaining seven will receive daily treatment from Public Works.
Parks to receive daily maintenance under the plan are: Barbara Smoyer Park; Community Park North and South; Greenway Meadows; Hilltop Park; Mountain Lakes; and Turning Basin Park.
Parks to receive weekly maintenance are: Autumn Hill; Grover Park; John Witherspoon Woods; Van Dyke Wight Woods; and the Woodfield Reservation.
Mr. O'Neil cited a resident survey used to gauge opinion about Township public space as the prime motivation for improving and regularly maintaining the parks and rest areas.
He said the survey results led the Township Department of Public Works to develop seasonal maintenance plans, pedestrian and bicycle links between areas of open space, a full-time open space maintenance crew, and education programs providing "environmental stewardship."
Further, the open space manager recommended that the Township intiate the "Adopt a Park" program for its open space. This would welcome the involvement of businesses and nonprofit organizations in the maintenance, operation, and improvement of these lands.
All 12 recreational areas were evaluted on the conditions of items such as drainage, streams, restrooms, signage, benches, and picnic areas.
Most in need of repair is the 9.8-acre Turning Basin Park off Alexander Road at the Delaware and Raritan Canal, Mr. O'Neil said, adding that it needed more developed areas for casual recreation, better fencing, improved restroom facilities, and replenished gravel.
Deputy Mayor Bill Enslin, who has been actively involved in the parks maintenance project, used Turning Basin Park as an example of the need to maintain public spaces.
"It's going to be important to understand the amount of effort necessary to take care our park system," he said. He added that the open space tax that was voted for "overwhelmingly" by the Township was not only for the acquisition, but for the maintenance of the parks system.
According to Township Chief Financial Officer John Clawson, the Township spent $75,000 in park maintenance in 2003 and has budgeted the same amount for 2004. That amount, however, could change as budget discussions continue.