BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Monmouth Avenue Recreation Field is now the David and Philip Miller Park.
The Bridgewater Township Council voted unanimously July 6 to rename the park for a pair of individuals who have made historic contributions to the municipality, and in particular the historical Hobbstown community.
"It's an honor to be able to do this," said Bridgewater Mayor Matthew Moench.
He lamented that the township had not been able to move forward with a huge celebration of Hobbstown this year, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which had also canceled a planned youth celebration.
“I am proud to have worked with the Hobbstown Family Union to rightly honor David and Phillip Miller with the renaming of this park,” said Moench in a prepared statement. “David and Phillip stood for fair play, and hard work in pursuit of excellence and teamwork, which can serve as an example to all Bridgewater youth now and in years to come.”
Hobbstown was officially re-designated as an unincorporated community within Bridgewater Township two years ago. Its history dates back to 1920, when brothers Amos, General and Robert Hobbs purchased property in that area.
The property has also been known as Somerville Manor in its history.
Several members of the family were on the call during the meeting for the approval of the resolution.
“We’re grateful,” said Ken Hobbs, the Hobbstown Family Union President, “for you giving us a chance to rename the park.”
He added that the park will now be known for two gentlemen who have “done so much for the young people in Hobbstown. We appreciate what you’re doing.”
He said in the township’s press release that the Millers "mentored countless athletes in our community," and, with the park's renaming, will "continue to serve as an inspiration to the youth of this area.”
David and Philip Miller are both Bridgewater natives who grew up in town and attended local schools, according to the resolution. David Miller graduated from Somerville High School, while Philip Miller, who passed away in 1999, graduated from Bridgewater-Raritan High School.
David Miller also played minor league baseball for the Raiders, a New Jersey club that he later managed along with Philip Miller.
According to the township's press release, the Miller brothers have served as positive role models for many Hobbstown youths over the years. That constituency includes such storied athletes as scholastic wrestler Ernie Van Ness, former collegiate and professional football player Jonathan Williams, Lester and Randy Johnson and collegiate basketball player and coach Eric Murdock.
David Miller is still involved with both the Hobbstown community and Bridgewater Township.
According to the town’s resolution, he served honorably in the United States Army from 1962 to 1965. His assignment was to the Third Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” which is responsible for keeping watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia.
All five members of the Bridgewater council voted to approve the resolution to rename the park for the Miller brothers.
“It’s a historic roll call,” said council president Howard Norgalis.
“It is an honor to recognize these great residents of Bridgewater,” Norgalis said in the township’s release. “Just as we officially renamed the section of town as Hobbstown a couple years ago, it is important that we continue to cement the legacy of one of the most historically rich areas of our community, and pay respect to the individuals who made it that way.”
Also commenting on the resolution later in the meeting was Lance Miller, son of David Miller and nephew of Philip Miller.
“It’s a great, great thing,” he said, “for future generations.”
Lance Miller, a graduate of Villanova University, and a former college and professional basketball player, said he had personally seen the effects his father and uncle had had on the Hobbstown community, and it had inspired him and others to start giving back to that neighborhood.
“Naming the park is going to have long-lasting effects on the next generations,” he said. “It’s a great thing you guys are doing, and I appreciate it.”