PARK COMMISSION EARNS ANOTHER>SMART WORKPLACE RECOGNITION
Third Consecutive Year
The Somerset County Park Commission has earned recognition as a recipient of a 2014 Smart Workplaces Platinum level award. The prestigious statewide program recognizes employers who provide outstanding commuter transportation programs for their employees. The 2014 award is the third consecutive recognition for the Park Commission.
The Platinum Award, the highest honor bestowed, is earned by achieving five Bronze, five Silver, and Gold level activities in addition to a series of comprehensive site-specific alternative commute programs. Among the issues addressed by the Park Commission to fulfill the requirements are:
Designating an on-site point of contact for commute inquiries
Encouraging employees to register for TMA traffic alerts
Regularly promoting commute options and TMA incentives
Hosting an on-site information event
Hosting two or more TMA Lunch & Learn presentations
Providing bicycle parking area
Offering a formal flextime program an compressed workweek program
Providing electric vehicles for employee business use
Smart Workplaces recognizes the achievement of New Jersey employers who have developed and implemented significant and innovative alternative commute programs that attain the State Standard of Excellence. The program honors employers that provide commuter benefits to help employees address limited or expensive parking, reduce traffic congestion, improve employee recruiting and retention, and minimize the environmental impacts associated with drive-alone commuting.
“Attaining another Platinum level is an honor for the Park Commission but it is also is our responsibility as stewards of our county’s parklands and open space to serve as an advocate for such policies,” commented Ray Brown, Director of the Park Commission.
RideWise, an affiliate of the Somerset County Business Partnership and Somerset County’s transportation management association, oversees the program, verifies the validity of the employer nomination, and helps employers meet the criteria for the recognition. Information is available at www.Ridewise.org.
County & local officials cut the ribbon to open the new loop walking & biking trail at the 150-acre East County Park bordered by Dubois, Reinman, and Old Stirling Roads in Warren. From left to right; Mayor Gary DiNardo, Committee Person George Lazo, Deputy Mayor Mick Marion, Park Commission Vice President Bill Crosby, Freeholder Patricia Walsh, Park Commissioner Paul Consiglio, Park Commission President Steve Fuerst, Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione, Committee Person Carolann Garafola, Freeholder Peter Palmer.
EAST COUNTY PARK TRAIL OPENS FOR PUBLIC USE
Somerset County Freeholder and Park Commission liaison Patricia Walsh has announced that the new loop trail at the 150-acre East County Park, bordered by Dubois, Reinman and Old Stirling roads in Warren Township, is officially open to the public.
The Board of Freeholders, the Warren Township Committee, and the Somerset County Park Commission have developed the facility as a partnership. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new trail on September 10.
"The county and township have a history of partnering on the development of athletic fields within the park," Freeholder Walsh said. “These include a synthetic-turf multi-use field, a synthetic-turf soccer field and a natural-turf soccer field. The current design adds a network of multi-use trails throughout the park that will connect the existing uses and make more of the park accessible to the public.”
The trail features an 8-foot-wide stone multi-use loop approximately four-tenths of a mile long. Also included is a 26-space paved parking area, accessible from Reinman Road.
"We are very pleased to be partnering with Warren Township to realize the full vision of East County Park," said Freeholder Walsh. "The trail network opens up the most scenic portion of the park to the public and allows for the future development of additional passive recreational uses."
“It’s very exciting to see this park concept become a reality. Warren residents have asked the Township Committee to explore further recreational opportunities in the Township,” said Deputy Mayor Mick Marion. ”Given our past positive experiences working with the County Freeholders and County Park Commission on the Pop Warner Complex and Duderstadt property, it was a natural progression. This area is one of the most picturesque pieces of property in the Township; it represents the Townships rural heritage. The trails will provide a family friendly location designed for the public to enjoy walking, running, biking, or pushing strollers. After a long tough winter, residents will look forward to and be excited about our late-summer, early-fall opening.”
“We are pleased to have been able to provide new passive recreation opportunities to East County residents,” commented Park Commission Director Ray Brown. “The trail loop is an important addition to a growing park facility.”
PARK COMMISSION PARTNERS WITH RARITAN HEADWATERS ASSOCIATION
TO PROTECT THE RARITAN RIVER
The Somerset County Park Commission, led by the Ranger Division, has entered into a collaborative arrangement with the Raritan Headwaters Association to promote an educational initiative to protect the Raritan River from the introduction of invasive species.
The Headwaters project is funded by an Audubon Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship and focuses on spreading awareness about the nuisance alga, didymo, and the importance of leaving no trace of visits to the streams and rivers enjoyed by fisherman, kayakers and boaters.
The basic “Leave No Trace” principle being promoted is to have fishermen, kayakers, boaters, and other stream recreationalists regularly inspect their gear including removal of rocks, mud, plants, moss and other materials; thoroughly cleaning equipment to remove any attached materials; and completely dry equipment in the sun following use.
Aquatic equipment is vulnerable to transferring known aquatic invasives including whirling disease, zebra mussels, water chestnut, New Zealand mud snail and future unknown threats. Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem and when introduced can cause economic and/or environmental harm or threaten human health.
Park Commission Rangers will serve as a positive presence at parks and Commission events to educate visitors on the importance of taking personal responsibility for keeping the Raritan River healthy, clean, and safe. In addition, “Leave No Trace” flyers will be posted at Park Commission facilities along the river.
For more information on the “Leave No Trace” program contact Angela Gorczyca at email@example.com or call (908) 234-1852 x315.
Howe Athletic Complex at Colonial Park Ribbon-cutting and Dedication
May 22, 2104
Senator Kip Bateman and Freeholder Zaborowski
The Somerset County Park Commission, State and County officials, representatives from the Somerset County Park Commission, and members of Gymkhana Cricket Club, Somerset Cavaliers Cricket Club, and Dutch Total Soccer officially opened the Howe Athletic Complex at Colonial Park in Somerset, New Jersey.
The Howe Complex, off Colonial Drive at the northeastern corner of the park near Elizabeth Avenue, includes two adult soccer fields, three youth soccer fields, and a full sized cricket pitch.
“We have been waiting a long time for a pitch like this,” commented Aslam Khan of the Cavaliers. Added Rana Aftab of Gymkhana, “It’s a beautiful pitch, perfectly flat as it should be.”
“It’s a great location and a rare thing to have so many fields in the same place,” commented Jordi Meijer of Dutch Total Soccer. “We often find ourselves spread out at many school fields but here adult and children’s games can be played at the same time.”
The facility was constructed on the former homestead of Dr. Eugene and Lois Howe. The Howe’s placed the funds received from the sale of the property to the County in a trust account to be returned to the Somerset County Park Commission upon their passing. Mrs. Howe passed away in 1995 and Dr. Howe passed in 2008. A significant portion of the trust’s assets were used to construct the complex, a generous gift to the people of Somerset County.
Dr. Howe was well known in Franklin for volunteer work that included co-founding the Meadows Foundation that continues today to serve as stewards of early Dutch and American Heritage. His passion for reading, poetry and preservation drove him to also become a volunteer at the former Franklin Inn in East Millstone, a structure that also served as a used bookstore.
Dr. Howe was employed as a scientist and researcher at MERCK & Co. where he was awarded 18 patents for his work in isolating and synthesizing amino acids.
Reservations for use of the soccer fields and cricket pitch may be made by online at http://www.somersetcountyparks.org/applications/applications.pdf or by calling the Park Commission at 908-722-1200, ext. 225.
SOMERSET COUNTY PARK COMMISSION HELPS
RESTORE THE AMERICAN CHESTNUT
The First Orchard of Its Kind Planted at Lord Stirling Park
Chestnut trees planted from seed are protected from rodent damage by tree tubes. A fence will keep the deer from browsing the young leaves. By the middle of summer a small Chestnut forest should begin to appear. The site is visible from the Environmental Education Center West Observation Blind at 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge, NJ.
The Pennsylvania/New Jersey Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) recently planted a progeny test orchard of 250 of the most advanced, potentially blight-resistant American chestnut seedlings at the Somerset County Park Commission, Lord Stirling Park in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The seedlings, called Restoration Chestnuts 1.0, are part of a unique breeding program led by TACF to restore the American chestnut to the eastern forests of America.
Corporate volunteers from Verizon and Johnson & Johnson helped prepare the area for the planting. Goldman Sachs employees provided labor and funding through the New Jersey Land Conservancy’s Partners for Parks corporate volunteer program.
Once the giants of the eastern forests, American chestnuts stood up to 100 feet tall and numbered in the billions. They were a vital part of the forest ecology, a key food source for wildlife, and an essential component of the human economy. In the beginning of the 20th century the fungal pathogen responsible for chestnut blight was accidentally imported from Asia and spread rapidly through the American chestnut population, killing an estimated four billion mature trees from Maine to Georgia by 1950. Several attempts to breed blight-resistant trees in the mid-1900s were unsuccessful.
In 1983, a group of scientists formed The American Chestnut Foundation with a mission to develop blight-resistant American chestnut trees. Now assisted by nearly 6,000 members, volunteers, and partners, the organization is undertaking the planting of potentially blight-resistant trees in select locations throughout the eastern US.
“The Pennsylvania/New Jersey Chapter’s partnership with Somerset County Parks represents a huge step in our chestnut restoration program,” said TACF Regional Science Coordinator Sara Fitzsimmons. “This orchard is the first of its kind in New Jersey, enabling us to test and evaluate our Restoration Chestnuts 1.0 for blight resistance and growth characteristics.”
Jane Parks, Environmental Education Center, Environmental Events Specialist stated, “The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center started working with TACF in 2006 by planting a test site of American and Chinese Chestnuts. We are very pleased that our location has been selected for the first Restoration Chestnut 1.0 planting in New Jersey. The planting aligns with our mission to educate the public about the importance of preserving our fragile environment.”
PARK COMMISSION EARNS AWARD FOR
RECENTLY PUBLISHED HISTORY
The Somerset County Park Commission has been presented with the 2014 New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association (NJRPA) Agency Showcase Award for Natural Beauty of the Somerset County Parks, a history of the Park Commission in text and photos.
The award was presented at the 39th Annual NJRPA Awards Program and Dinner at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The Agency Showcase Award recognizes outstanding marketing campaigns and
promotional materials that encourage participation in recreation activities or promote health and wellness programs.
Natural Beauty of the Somerset County Parks by Clifford W. Zink chronicles the history of the Somerset County Park Commission with 425 illustrations and photos from the 57-year history of the Commission. The funding for Natural Beauty was provided by the Somerset County Park Foundation. The Foundation is a 501c3 whose mission is to preserve, support, and promote Somerset County Park Commission programs, facilities, and open space through advocacy and fundraising.
Natural Beauty traces the development of Somerset County’s park system from its roots in the County’s agricultural past through its evolution over nearly six decades into an organization utilizing creative public-private partnerships to preserve open space and serve more than 2,000,000 visitors and program participants annually. The book highlights information and excerpts from historic documents and interviews with former and present elected officials, commissioners, directors, planners, naturalists, rangers and recreation staff.
Natural Beauty is available free with a $40 donation to the Somerset County Park Foundation by visiting the Somerset County Park Commission Headquarters 355 Milltown Road, Bridgewater, NJ, 08807; 908 722-1200.