MORRIS PLAINS, NJ - A new access road to Central Park of Morris County is being planned and the new design will be unveiled at a public information session on July 27. Residents of Morris Township, Morris Plains and Parsippany, who are most affected by the traffic in and out of the park, as well as other community members are invited to the Morris Plains Community Center at 51 Jim Fear Drive from 4pm - 7pm.
The proposed new access road would run from West Hanover Avenue at a signalized intersection on the Parsippany and Morris Township border to Central Avenue, which is the main road through the county park, near the Morris Plains border, said officials.
Those residents coming to the park for soccer, lacrosse, cross country, inline skating, softball or the dog park would be diverted from residental roads.
“We know that the residents of Morris Plains have been seeking relief from traffic that cuts through their neighborhoods to get to what has quickly become a very popular and busy county park,’’ said Freeholder Doug Cabana. “We are working closely with the state and the towns of Parsippany, Morris Plains and Morris Township to ensure this project is properly designed and gets completed as quickly as possible.’’
The design would include the creation of a new signaled intersection on West Hanover Avenue. In addition to installing new road signs directing park traffic to the new entrance, the county would work to update GPS data providers to have motorists directed to the new entrance.
The new road has to skirt some existing wetlands and a still-operating sewage treatment plant for the nearby Greystone Park State Psychiatric Hospital as its cuts through to Central Avenue.
The county in 2015 allocated funds for the design and construction of the new road and the new intersection. At that time, it was expected the final design would be ready in the early summer of 2017, with construction to begin in the fall of this year.
Before they could move on the locally anticipated project, the Freeholder Board had to get a deed of easement from the state, to give the county access to the state-owned property needed for the new park entrance. That easement required approval of both the State House Commission and the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority.
Morris County built Central Park on the former Greystone Park State Psychiatric Hospital campus tract that was acquired from the state in 2001.
The Morris County Park Commission in 2016 entered into a license agreement with the state for use of an additional 126 acres of the former hospital property. The Freeholders, in June 2016, subsequently approved a long-term management and use agreement with the state to manage the additional 126 Greystone acres for passive recreational, conservation, historic preservation or farmland use by the Park Commission. That agreement has not yet taken effect.
Under terms of the management and use agreement, the state would deliver the property to the county in suitable condition for passive public outdoor recreation, such as walking, hiking, picnicking, nature watching, or for conservation purposes. The county could add active recreation uses in the future.
While the park has been a great recreational success for the county, that same success has caused residents in adjacent residential neighborhoods in Morris Plains to become concerned about the increased levels of traffic through their community headed to and from Central Avenue, despite signs that direct traffic around those neighborhoods.
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