New Providence’s parks and green spaces reflect the beauty we find in our town. They act as a location for competitive and recreational activities, a gathering spot for family and friends, and a sacred place of remembrance and reflection. We are fortunate to have such wonderful open spaces, and we must reinvest in our parks and recreational facilities so they grow alongside us as a community.

The most recent parks project authorized by the Council was the renovation of Oakwood Park. As the Borough’s largest piece of park property, Oakwood Park had the potential to be the “crown jewel” of a community gathering space with both passive and active recreation. Back in 2010, the Borough presented a redevelopment plan included significant amenities, such as walking paths connected to the trails lining the Passaic River, a new picnic space, a new playground, a new field house, added parking at both entrances, and a new basketball court not located in the parking lot.

It is now seven years later, and, as proclaimed by the Borough, the project is nearing completion, but with none of the aforementioned amenities or parking. The buildings and picnic area on the property are in a state of disrepair, and the opportunity for river access was passed over. In other words, a modernized, state-of the art park was promised to New Providence, but, instead, the venture ended up being narrowed to a field refurbishment project, without consideration for the greater set of needs of the entire Borough population. The Borough should have instead put together a comprehensive plan that could be completed in phases when it was fiscally prudent to do so. New Providence residents deserve accountability from their Council on projects like Oakwood, and they must also take responsibility for the underinvestment in our existing facilities, such as Lions Park, where the grounds and playground equipment have been sorely neglected. As Pioneers, we should not have to settle for less than excellence in our community.

As we look ahead, specifically to the redevelopment of the Ping Wang property, as your representatives on Council, we promise not to squander the unique opportunities that are presented to us, as open space is precious. In order to successfully manage these gifts, we commit to doing our due diligence by listening more, moving faster, and engaging the financial resources of Union County. We will make decisions based on available research, expert assessment, and fiscal responsibility. Above all, we pledge to listen to all stakeholders dedicated to the vision of a better New Providence. On November 7th, vote for the candidates that are committed to making New Providence public green spaces everything they could be. Elect Keith Doll and Jamie Baer Paterson to New Providence Borough Council.