CHATHAM, NJ - In what might go down as the shining example of how local government can come together for the benefit of the people was on display Saturday when Chatham Township officially opened Giralda Farms Park to the public.
The 136-acre "Open Space" land in Chatham Township was purchased in December of 2014 and opened to the public Saturday, along with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The official name is Giralda Farms Park at Loantaka Brook Reservation.
"It's so unusual for the park to open on the day you're celebrating it," Terrence Nolan of the Open Space Institute said. "I've been involved in over 30 purchases of Open Space, but never one as significant or as beautiful. It was also one of the more complicated."
There was a long list of people to thank and Nolan, cited as the "architect" of the deal, included Chatham Township Mayor Kevin Sullivan and Thomas Ciccarone, township administrator, as two of the key players.
The $14 million purchase was brokered by Normandy Real Estate Partners, who, in turn, sold the 136 acres to Chatham Township. The Morris County Preservation Trust provided $10 million towards the purchase.
The Open Space Institute, New Jersey Green Acres, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, F.M. Kirby Foundation, Morris County Municipal Authority, Morris County Park Commission and the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders all came together to make the historic purchase a reality.
"It definitely was one of the more unique purchases," Susan Seyboldt, representing Green Acres of the state DEP.
Albert Cruz, Chatham Township Attorney, and Kathryn DeFillippo, Morris County Freeholders Director, also helped put the complicated deal in place
"At one point, we joked that the lawyers needed lawyers," Sullivan said.
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen pointed out that the federal government contributed no money to the purchase.
During Sullivan's opening remarks, the American flag placed behind the podium was blown over by the wind. Before anyone could react, Frelinghuysen rushed up and put the flag into its upright position.
"Fifty years from now, people might not remember the details of how this land was purchased, but they'll be able to use it forever," Nolan said.
Mayor Kevin Sullivan makes opening remarks at Giralda Farms Park opening
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen speaks at opening of Giralda Farms Park
Harding Township Mayor Nicolas Platt gives some history of the new Giralda Farms Park