Union County Freeholders Approve Agreements on Oak Ridge Park Recreation Facilities, But Some Residents Object to Recreation Project Expansions

Union County Freeholder Vice Chairman Sergio Granados congratulates Brigadier General Edward Chrystal on his promotion Credits: Bob Faszczewski

ELIZABETH, NJ—An amended shared services agreement with the Union County Improvement Authority and a use and maintenance agreement with Union County College, both having to do with the Oak Ridge Park Project, were unanimously approved by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Thursday.

According to Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen of Springfield, the agreements would further county efforts to provide a field, locker room facilities and “other amenities” for Union County College sports teams that have outgrown their current facilities adjacent to the Cranford campus of the college.

Oak Ridge Park in Clark is a former county golf course that is being converted to a number of other uses.

Sign Up for E-News

However, Garwood activist Bruce Paterson wanted to know why the college could not use facilities authorized two years ago at Rahway Park, on which, he said, the county and Rahway spent $5 or $6 million.

Another project, which the county is supporting—the proposed Mind and Body Complex in Roselle—drew the ire of Roselle resident Anthony Esposito at Thursday’s freeholder meeting.

Esposito, a 36-year resident of the borough, noted that Union County has pledged to guarantee bonds to help pay for the complex.

He reported that the average property tax bill in Roselle is $9,531, whereas the median income in the borough is only $44,375, adding that having residents pay 25 percent of their median income for taxes was “crushing the town.”

The resident noted that there are 450 abandoned homes in the borough and 1500 homes are in “some type of foreclosure.”

Esposito also said that the borough’s net municipal debt is $36 million and its debt cap only is $46 million. Thus, the borough, which is borrowing $5 to $10 million per year, cannot bond the Mind and Body Complex itself and it has asked the county to pledge its guarantee on bonds on the facility, with the borough leasing it back from the county.

Paterson asked the freeholders to stop “sitting on $46 million in surplus” and allot $100 of each of it as relief to each county homeowner, which would only total about $18 million.

Esposito also said that he could not see how the current Roselle Borough Council could bind future councils to a future bond agreement and lease of the proposed facility, and, if future governing bodies decided not to uphold the borough’s lease agreement, other communities in Union County, “could be left holding the bag.”

This recreation center, Esposito added, would only be six blocks from Warinanco Park, where the county just spent $7 million to renovate and upgrade the county park’s sports complex.

However, lack of sports facilities and playing time for youth soccer leagues in Rahway was complained about by Robert Macaluso, who is an official with that city’s youth soccer leagues.

Macaluso said there is not enough playing time for his teams to play at Rahway River Park and the Madison Avenue Park they have been told to use so prone to flooding that many referees will not allow games to be played there. He asked why a turf field could not be installed at the Madison Avenue Park.

The Rahway soccer official added his teams only want use of Rahway River Park facilities for 10 Sundays in the spring and 10 Sundays in the fall. He also said preference for use of the park is given to the “Colonia Soccer League,” which is not based in Union County.

However, Union County Director of Parks and Recreation Ronald Zuber responded that the “Colonial Soccer League” to which Zuber was referring was based in Elizabeth and most of its members were from that city.

Zuber added that the Rahway River Park facilities are shared with many other groups, including a women’s rugby team, and he and his department have been working with Macaluso to improve facilities and access to Rahway groups.

On a more positive note, Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, Freeholder Vice Chairman Sergio Granados and Bergen presented a resolution to Edward Chrystal, who grew up in Springfield and now lives in Scotch Plains, for his promotion to brigadier general of the New Jersey National Guard.

Freeholder resolutions also were presented:

  • Congratulating Marilyn Davis, who served in the administrations of former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and former President Barack Obama, for receiving the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award from the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey.
  • Wishing Ellen Dotto well on her retirement as secretary of the boards and executive director of college relations for Union County College.
  • Honoring Pat Scott, a former employee in the Cornerstone Unit of Runnells Hospital on her retirement from service to the county.

The board also adopted a resolution supporting former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “We Are Still In” effort by more than 1200 officials around the United States supporting the Paris accords on climate change and condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement and the harm the group believes it will cause to the world’s environment.

Additionally, they voted in favor of a resolution condemning the American Health Care Act and urging United States Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker to continue their oppositIon to the proposal and its harm to Medicaid recipients.

According to Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski, under the proposal at it now stands, 14 million people would lose their healthcare benefits under Medicaid.














TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Union County Students to 'March for Our Lives' Saturday in Union

March 19, 2018

UNION, NJ – Students from all over Union County will be walking from Burnet Middle School to Town Hall on Saturday morning, March 24, in an anti-gun violence march.

Led by steering committee chairman Colin Sumner, the march, which has the support of Senator Joseph Cryan, Moms Demand Action, Union County Chapter, and the Union County Freeholders, is not aimed at taking away guns, but ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Trinity Episcopal Church,, Cranford

Holy Week Taize Service at Trinity Cranford – ...

Religions And Spirituality

Fri, March 23, 8:00 PM

Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood

Strollers Present John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt"

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, March 24

Black Diamond Billiard's, Union

Ladies 9-Ball Pro-Am by the Garden State Pool Tour

Other Sports

Celebrate Holy Week at First Congregational Church

March 22, 2018

First Congregational Church invites visitors of all ages to observe Holy Week with special services beginning on Palm Sunday, March 25, and continuing through Easter Sunday on April 1, in the sanctuary at 125 Elmer Street in Westfield.

The Palm Sunday service on March 25 will begin with a traditional Palm Processional. Children are invited to meet in the Chapel Lounge prior to the 10 a.m.