Letters to the Editor

Save Rahway Park

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To the people of Clark, Rahway, Linden and the rest of Union County,

From what I have read, the primary reason that the town notes for wanting to relocate the stadium is due to flooding. A very large and attractive reason they have chosen the RRP for it is because they can split the financial burden with the County and steal 10 acres of pristine county park land for their own use.

Although that may seem admirable in a short term Rahway economic view, it is also a very short sighted and misleadingly blurred view of the real long term financial impacts to the town, the local neighborhoods and the Counties residents and tax payers.

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Historic Rahway River Park, deemed eligible for Historic Preservation status, is an oasis in the midst of an ever increasingly urbanized zone. It's an oasis built in a flood plain. A very active flood plain as I have seen. Having lived here for over 60 years, I have seen the 'sod go to bog' in the central field of the park after Irene, Sandy and two snowy winters. Ask any Rahway “lifer” and they will tell you that it is a common occurrence. The water table has no intention of receding. So as for the originally stated reason for moving the stadium, it is moot.

The negative impacts of building a 1200 seat stadium in a natural preserve area are numerous. A prospect that it will be increased to the original 5000 seats makes it worse.

Let’s begin:

TRAFFIC:

There would not be enough road space to handle the cars, bike riders, and county maintenance vehicles traveling in or around the park during events, as well as any hardy souls that still wish to use the park as a park. Many people drive, bike and walk in to the park daily for a slice of nature and quiet. That will be greatly diminished. Groups wishing to use the facility in warmer weather would be discouraged or actually turned away due to the congestion and lack of parking. No one will spend the money to police the cars "at the gates" of entry to ascertain who is for the sporting event and who is there for private recreation. The increased traffic will be dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians with the current "drive through" roadway in the park, and to drivers and pedestrians at the Valley Rd and RR Parkway intersection.

PARKING:

With only 410 parking spaces now there is not enough parking now for smaller events. This weekend there were approximately 8 small groups (under 40 people each) meeting on the park lawns and nearly 85% of the parking capacity was full.

Please recall the 4th of July fireworks. The neighborhoods within a 1/4 mile of the park entrances were filled by incoming cars taking over their streets because the parking in the RRP was entirely used up.

When you choose to live near a High School, you do so knowing what HS activities are like. These are not things expected at a natural preserve area.

TAXES:

Everyone in the county will pay for this, and if the county decides to use it for more county events, then Rahway residents will be picking up the long term costs of the overflow issues. Unless of course you host paying events, which the taxpayers won't see any relief from, but I am confident someone will find gain by those funds.

POLLUTION:

Air pollution; increased bus and large vehicle traffic. Increased auto traffic. These will also impact walkers, joggers, bicyclists and children playing in the park, as the surrounding tree line will "contain" the pollution within the park longer than an open air space would.

Crumb Rubber Artificial Turf Fields are loaded with suspected carcinogenic substances that have been banned by both Men’s and Women’s World Soccer leagues. CBS aired a special a few months ago exposing hundreds of children around the country coming down with leukemia and blood cancers after playing on these fields through their formative years. The Rahway business administrator keeps saying this is “for the children” Really?

Waterway pollution; run off of synthetic surfaces plus additional ground pollutants from the increased foot traffic and autos draining into the river that supplies Rahway’s water supply.

Street pollution; refuse in and out of containers.

Noise; reducing the enjoyment factor exponentially at the park for those wishing to be out in nature. Affecting the residential neighbors’ tranquility daily. After dark auto traffic, honking, doors slamming. Crowd noises, a Stadium PA system expected to be heard over 1200 fans, Marching Bands, etc.

Light; After dark traffic streams with headlights, especially after fall foliage has dropped impacting all the rim residences. 7 story high stadium lighting illuminating an area of the Great lawn 600’ x 900’ according to the engineer’s presentation at Hamilton Stage.

These will each impact thousands of residential neighbors living around three sides of the park in Rahway, Clark and Linden.

WILDLIFE:

All of the pollution will greatly impact the wildlife in ways we cannot comprehend. On any given day in the park I have shared the space with Egrets, Herons, Turtles, Hawks, Deer, Geese, Swans, Ducks, Owls, Swallows and even an occasional Bald Eagle. Groundhogs, rabbits, swamp rats, possum, squirrels (although they seem to have decreased significantly as of late) raccoon, skunk and a few other shyer species scurry further out of view, an abundant insect population provides 2/3rds of the protein for the parks animal and will be harmed by the night lighting disturbing their food chain. This park is their home turf, along the Rahway River. They are part of the ecosystem and help to sustain it.

There is no part of the stadium plan that would benefit this ecosystem, and will most likely ruin it. And if you ruin it at this point in the rivers path, you will ruin some of it further up it into Union County proper and further down to the bay.

CITY RESOURCES:

We will need increased taxes for the overflow of people and the way they impact the surrounding area.

Additional police presence will be needed for the traffic, both auto and foot, including additional policing of the area due to after dark events. Informal conversations with County Police have revealed they are against this plan although they can’t state so publically.

Additional maintenance of roads, walkways, street lighting, etc. due to the additional traffic burdens and additional safety needs that will radiate out from the park.

Additional trash collection from the amount of pedestrians entering the park on foot.

The county will also need to increase their maintenance, policing and wildlife teams. Some of which will need to be increased significantly.

And with the increasing gang and drug traffic activity in UC, do we really want a drive through park, where people can slip off into the woods, open during days and evenings filled with crowds of cars and kids that will be difficult at best to police?

There is no long term win in this scenario. Yes, the contractors, engineers and lawyers doing the initial work will benefit; any politicians' kickbacks in the form of campaign contributions will benefit. But the residents will not, the wildlife will not, the ecology will not and ultimately each time the bog sogs, the children will not.

If the HS really needs new grounds, why not pursue Merck for their nearly unused parking lots out near Route 9 on the west side of their campus? They are already cleared lands, and Merck, with its layoffs and attrition, would probably do well to sell/lease off the property. There would be easy traffic access to main thoroughfares, no problems with quiet neighborhoods being disturbed by noise or lights, adequate parking. With easy tie in to power, water/sewer and adequate street drainage for run off, and with appropriate construction and fencing, a safe and well lighted place for our kids to play ball.

I'm attaching photos I've taken at the park, views/images that will no longer be possible, or highly unlikely, if this plan were to go forward.

This is why I say "Save Rahway Park".

Quite Sincerely,

Scott Aruta

A Rahway River Parkway resident.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

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