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Pennington Park Project Gets Financial Boost From County Open Space Program

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PATERSON, NJ – Passaic County officials have allowed Paterson to reallocate almost $525,000 in unspent open space money that had been earmarked for other projects to close their shortfall on planned renovations at Pennington Park.

City public works director Christopher Coke said he hoped to start construction at Pennington early next year and to complete the work by the fall. The renovations, which officials say may cost more than $4.3 million, would include three new soccer fields as well as the installation of artificial turf on three baseball fields.

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“We’re really excited to get this project going,’’ said Coke. “This is something that’s much-needed in the community.’’

Despite getting $2.9 million in state funds and having $900,000 in municipal bonds for Pennington, city officials had been short $500,000.

The Passaic County freeholders on November 20 approved a resolution that shifts to Pennington Park $460,000 of the $500,000 in open space money that originally had been set aside for a study of the middle and lower raceways near the Great Falls. The resolution also reallocates $57,000 that was originally supposed to be used for repairs to the tennis courts at Westside Park. Moreover, it shifts $7,350 that was leftover from completed renovations to Westside and Buckley parks.

City officials are considering some options for the Pennington work, such as putting artificial turf on all three baseball fields, which would raise the cost even higher. Freeholder Theodore “TJ” Best, who oversees the open space committee, said the county would try to support the extra work.

“I am extremely interested in this project,’’ Best said. “I see it as a priority and if it’s going to require additional funds, the county will do what it can to support that. I’m confident that under the direction of Chris Coke this project will move forward.’’

Paterson municipal government did not get any new county open space money this year because the city had $1.2 million in unused grants, some dating back to 2004. If the city moves ahead and spends the $525,000 allocated to Pennington Park, Paterson would still have $700,000 in unused grants.

“It’s our hope that Paterson goes ahead and spends the open space money it has so it would be eligible for a new allocation next year,’’ Best said.

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