NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The city is looking to renovate and beautify Feaster Park on Commercial Avenue, an area which officials say has been historically underused.
Feaster Park has a “passive design,” according to Glenn Paterson, the city's planning director. That is, the park emphasizes open space rather than recreational equipment or programming.
Sitting along Commercial Avenue and next to the Paul Robeson School, Feaster Park has garnered a reputation as being a place people walk through to get elsewhere.
Another factor leading to the park’s low usage, Paterson suggested, is the rather awkward topography of the park. The entire park makes up a small hill which slopes up several feet from Commercial Avenue, makings sports activities difficult.
“It’s an area where there’s a lot of need for a park,” Paterson said. “It could probably do with an updated design that might serve current needs of the neighborhood.”
Previously, the city has done similar revitalization projects with Boyd Park off Route 18 and the Alice Jennings Archibald Park on Wright Place, next to the McKinley Elementary School.
“This is a sort of good opportunity to renovate a park that’s in the middle of a lot of young families and kids,” said Dan Dominguez, a community development administrator at the city’s planning department.
Park usage has certainly been on neighbor’s minds, Dominguez said, adding that while at Unity Square and doing a neighborhood survey, it ranked high on many residents’ priority list.
“Pretty much everyone would go to Joyce Kilmer or, I guess on the weekends, sometimes to Boyd,” Dominguez said of the survey. “But relative for the amount of people, Feaster was incredibly underutilized.”
As part of the first step, the city is looking to spend $80,000 from a federal Community Development Block Grant to fund a redesign study for the park.
“The process we have to go through is to announce this to the public, get feedback on it, make an amendment to the plan and send it to HUD,” Paterson said. “This federal department approves it and then we can go out and hire a professional landscape architect and engineer to do a redesign plan.”