The Morris County freeholders have taken steps paving the way for 2017 construction of a new access road to Central Park of Morris County (the former Greystone Park State Psychiatric Hospital).
The moves are meant to minimize traffic through Morris Plains neighborhoods, according to this statement from the Freeholders:
FREEHOLDERS ACCEPT LAND EASEMENT AND HIRE ENGINEERING FIRM FOR NEW CENTRAL PARK OF MORRIS COUNTY MAIN ACCESS ROAD
COUNTY HOPES TO START CONSTRUCTION IN LATE 2017
The Morris County Board of Freeholders has taken two key steps to move ahead with expected 2017 construction of a new Central Park of Morris County main entrance and exit road, to run from West Hanover Avenue in Parsippany to Central Avenue, which is the main road through the county park, near the Morris Plains border.
The Freeholder Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to accept a deed of easement from the state, to give the county access to the state-owned property needed for the new park entrance. That easement has been approved by the State House Commission and the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority, and awaits a final sign-off by the state.
In a separate vote at a previous meeting, the freeholders also awarded a $92,000 professional services design contract for the park entrance road to Boswell Engineering of South Hackensack.
The county in 2015 allocated $1 million for design and construction of the new road and a new intersection on Hanover Avenue. It is anticipated that final design for the road will be completed in the early summer of 2017 and that construction would begin in the fall of 2017.
This planned new road would divert much of the park traffic — for activities, such as soccer matches, cross country races, inline skating and the dog park — from residential roads in Morris Plains.
“We know that the residents of Morris Plains have been seeking relief from traffic that cuts through their neighborhoods to get to what has quickly become a very popular and busy county park,’’ said Freeholder Doug Cabana.
“We will work closely with the state and the towns of Parsippany and Morris Plains to ensure this project gets completed as quickly as possible, but with the best design possible to handle all traffic needs.’’
“We look forward to adding this new road to allow for improved access to our current Central Park facilities and with the least impact on our residential neighbors,’’ said Park Commission Executive Director David Helmer.
Morris County built Central Park on the former Greystone Park State Psychiatric Hospital campus tract that was acquired from the state in 2001.
The Freeholders in June of this year entered into a separate long-term management and use agreement with the state to manage another 126 Greystone acres for passive recreational, conservation, historic preservation or farmland use by the Morris County Park Commission.
Under terms of the management and use agreement, the state would deliver the property to the county in suitable condition for passive public outdoor recreation, such as walking, hiking, picnicking, nature watching, or for conservation purposes. The county could add active recreation uses in the future.
Helmer said he envisions passive recreation use of the new tract, with picnic areas and paved trails, as well as for large special events, once the county obtains access to the land. The agreement is anticipated to take effect after July, 2017.
While the park has been a great recreational success for the county, that same success has caused residents in adjacent residential neighborhoods in Morris Plains to become concerned about the increased levels of traffic through their community headed to and from Central Avenue — despite signs that direct traffic around those neighborhoods.
In an effort to reduce those traffic impacts, especially in Morris Plains, the county governing board has agreed to construct the new access road.
For more information on Central Park of Morris County, visit: http://m66.siteground.biz/~morrispa/index.php/parks/