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New Recreational Township Park Opens With Athletic and Recreational Spaces

Matthew Hersh

With the threat of rain never fulfilling its promise, Greenway Meadows Park opened under sunny skies on Saturday. Residents and municipal officials gathered to celebrate the opening of a major open space acquisition for the community on a piece of land that had once belonged to the Robert Wood Johnson estate along Rosedale Road opposite Johnson Park School.

About two-thirds of the 53.3-acre-park are dedicated to "passive" recreation that includes picnic tables and benches, trails, ponds, and lakes, with the remaining area dedicated to "active" recreation. The active element features capabilities for two soccer fields, one softball field, multiple tot lots, and other open fields.

Greg O'Neil, Princeton Township's open space manager and arborist said the area is an example of one of the more mature landscapes in the region.

He added that all of the scheduling and maintenance of the active recreation element will be handled by the Princeton Recreation Department. The joint-community organization has been seeking more playing fields for area organized sports.

"Hopefully, this will alleviate some of the shortages of fields that we have had," Mr. O'Neil said, adding that "it is a gorgeous park that rivals any in the state."

Prior to construction of the site, Mr. O'Neil said many of the original mixed hardwood trees were transplanted to new sites within the property to maintain some of the Johnson estate's original scenery.

Linda Mead, executive director of D&R Greenway, announced Saturday the creation of the Greenway Center, which is comprised of two barns on the site. The organization is renovating the larger of the two to serve as a facility offering services to municipalities and organizations looking toward land protection and management.

"We are so pleased that this 100-year-old barn, located in the middle of a spectacular, preserved landscape, will have a new life helping to support the work of land preservationists throughout the state," Ms. Mead said.

She added that the barn, which was built around the turn of the 20th century, will retain much of its original design. Princeton architect Jerry Ford of Ford 3 Architects designed the center.

Ms. Mead also introduced the Upmeyer Internship for Land Preservation and Stewardship at the Greenway Center. Dedicated to Neil Upmeyer, the former chair of Greenway who died last month, the internship will be used to train future land preservationists. The internship was created using memorial gifts from Mr. Upmeyer's colleagues and friends, Ms. Mead said.

"This is one example of the lasting impact the Greenway Center will provide," she said.

The park is a result of a $7.4 million effort in 2001 by Delaware and Raritan Greenway, the regional land trust, with Princeton Township and various private donors.

The Township's Greg O'Neil said that Greenway Meadows will receive daily maintenance for items such as trash, recycling, restrooms, turf, and trails. The Township spent $75,000 in park maintenance in 2003.

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