ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury officials believe they hit one out of the park when they converted a former construction debris dumping ground in Landing into a glistening new softball complex.
Now they’re hoping a county parks organization agrees.
The township is nominating the Landing Park Recreation Complex for an award from the Morris Park Alliance and Roxbury Councilman Fred Hall believes the park, which opened in 2015, deserves the prize. “The decision will be made around Sept. 20 and there’s an award banquet sometime in the middle of October if we win,” said Hall. “I think we have a good shot at it, to be honest with you.”
The Morris Park Alliance will review Roxbury’s submission and judge it on a number of criteria, including overall layout, design elements, construction techniques, aesthetics, community support and maintenance features. Landing Park meets the criteria in a number of ways, suggests the township’s application.
“This project expanded recreational facilities to the Landing area of Roxbury, provided the county with high quality softball fields while also rehabilitating a property in the township,” states the submission..
It stresses that the 16-acre site on Landing Road was an eyesore for many years, suffering from issues that made it unattractive to commercial or residential developers. Originally a “deep depression” in the landscape, the property was “filled over the years with the material from the quarry across the street as well as asphalt bricks, roofing shingles and bridge demolition debris,” says the award application.
It also notes the land was bisected by a drainage ditch. “The conditions led to the property going unsold for a number of years,” wrote the township.
Making the land suitable for a municipal park was no easy task, according to the township’s application. “In order to rehabilitate the property, the historic fill needed to be compacted and capped to prevent the residents form coming in contact with the underlying soil,” says the paperwork. “This required the placement of a barrier and 12-inches of certified clean fill.”
Additionally, the drainage ditch “posed a challenge” that was solved by French and Parello Associates, the site’s main design firm, and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), says the application.
The land was purchased after a number of years of negotiation, a deal that was funded in part by a $226,755 state Green Acres grant and a $325,000 Morris County Open Space grant.
Hall said the time, effort and money was well worthwhile.
“Not only is it great for the residents of Landing for softball, but we use it for the Morris County High School Softball Championships every year,” he said. “Everybody uses it. Little kids love the playground area … I haven’t heard a single bad comment about it.”