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New FH Open Space Projects on Hold

Third Street entrance to Fair Haven fields and parking is no longer an option; and, Fair Haven Fields Natural Area restoration is being held.

Fair Haven’s open space wish list has been wait listed.

The two projects borough officials identified recently as priorities for which county funding should be pursued this year have been nixed for now and for different reasons.

It doesn’t mean that the interest in pursuing projects has waned. It just means that the borough has too many projects in the works now that need to be finished before launching another, borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande said at Monday night’s Borough Council meeting.

Waiting to lighten the concurrent project load by finishing the three open space projects under way before pursuing more weighs more favorably with the funding grantor, she added.

The sole factor holding up the application this year at this point, she said, is that a resolution needed to be passed at the Sept. 10 meeting sanctioning the alternate project to be included in the Monmouth County Open Space Grant application package to make the Sept. 19 deadline.

Casagrande said she had drafted a resolution should council decide to move forward, but advised against it, saying there needed to be more careful consideration paid to the option and its scope of work as well as the other open space and capital improvement projects in the works now.

The borough was looking to apply for the matching county grant to purchase 110 Third St., bulldoze the house on the acre lot and configure it as an alternate entrance to Fair Haven Fields with parking.

That was the priority project. It fell through, said Casagrande, because the property is currently under contract with another buyer.

The other project defined as a back-up priority was the , primarily ridding the spot of invasive plant species, which have destroyed much of the healthy growth.

On the fields project, Casagrande said, “We have talked about it and presented it … With all the other things that … we have ongoing when it comes to grants and/or capital debt, I intend to recommend that we hold off in applying for the 2012 Monmouth County Open Space Grant.”

Longtime resident Dick Fuller, who has rounded up volunteers for years to clear the Fair Haven Fields’ natural area, advised against the wait, saying the project has been on hold for too long as it is, giving it more magnitude each year.

He asked that council consider making the maintenance of the fields a line item in the borough budget.

It has been something for which he has been asking for eight years, council members said.

Adding the entire project to the capital budget and/or a line item is not advised, as it would hike taxes, Casagrande said.

The matching grant next year would potentially cover roughly $130,000 of the estimated $240,000 to $270,000 estimated cost.

That estimate and project scope could also be reworked, Casagrande said.

Council members agreed to meet with Fuller to discuss and weigh budgeting particulars involved in making the maintenance of the fields a line item.

In the meantime, the volunteers will be pruning tree roots at the fields this weekend. Fuller invited any willing volunteers to join the group.

Councilman Eric Jaeger offered to help.

JosephGhabourLaw September 11, 2012 at 04:15 PM
What Monmouth County lacks, unlike other counties, is a youth corp that works on open space improvement projects. In such a vacuum, volunteers with a sponsoring business, could handle the invasive species on Haven Fields. In other states, non-profits exist which do trail and open space work at-cost for government entities.

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