RAHWAY, NJ – Despite a large grassroots effort to stop construction of an artificial turf field in Rahway River Park, work in the park has begun. The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded a $3.5 million contract to Applied Landscape Technologies of Montville for "construction of artificial turf and sports lighting at Rahway River Park" during its Dec. 17 meeting.

According to county Communication Director Sebastian D’Elia, work in the park began on Monday, Dec. 21.

On Wednesday, surveyors were in the park and said they were subcontractors charged with laying out the initial fencing for the project. Earth had been moved earlier and a large pile of topsoil was mounded at one end of the field.

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The project is estimated to be completed in July 2016, D’Elia said.

As recently as Nov. 16, project opponents asked the Clark Township mayor and council to intercede to stop construction of the facility, which is a joint venture between Union County and the City of Rahway. The Coalition to Save Historic Rahway River Park garnered over 5,000 signatures on a change.org petition, produced lawn signs that sprang up throughout Clark and Rahway, created a website and social media presence, and attended numerous meetings in a year-long effort to prevent the construction project.