May 18, 2014 at 12:12 AM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - After a series of community meetings, architect plans, town council discussions, and eventual approval, Ridgeway Park opened on May 17 in the St. Cloud section to the delight of all present.
The homespun opening was highlighted with a beautiful sunny day and music by The Chord Cutters, a barbershop quartet, who performed in the gazebo where the ribbon cutting was held. Adam Goldman provided treats from his Dunkin Donuts store on Northfield Avenue as neighborhood residents, the WOFD, and other members of the community turned out to walk along the newly designed paths.
The property was given to the township by the Life Christian Church, who relocated their plans to build a new church to Northfield Avenue. Mayor Robert Parisi was insistent that the neighborhood have a voice in the fate of the property, and the decision was made to create a park area. The fate of two buildings on the property remain undecided.
Mayor Parisi reminded the public at the ribbon cutting that "this project was made possible by the Open Space Trust Fund Committee, who agreed to allow us to use open space dollars to fund the renovations".
The township council voted 4-1 on May 21, 2013, to approve funding for the project, with Councilman Joe Krakoviak voting no. Krakoviak is also council liaison for the Open Space Commission.
Councilman Victor Cirilo, was was out of town attending a conference, sent a statement to the Alternative Press, noting, "I am happy to see that our residents chose passive recreation as the option for this property. Open space protection is a catalyst in maintaining our quality of life, and ultimately property values."
Council President Sue McCartney, Jerry Guarino, and Joe Krakoviak were also present, along with Town Administrator Jack Sayers, Town Attorney Ken Kayser, members of the fire department, and Police Chief James Abbott. Councilwoman Patty Spango was unable to attend.
Parisi cut the ribbon with Joe McCartney, Chair of the Open Space Commission. He also thanked Dan Dowd, the landscape architect who designed the layout of the park, and Pete and Mike Scalora, West Orange residents and landscapers who worked to complete the project on time.