UNION COUNTY – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has approved the allocation of almost $1.4 million in funding for local community projects through the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. The monies will help preserve historic treasures, improve recreation for children, and plant trees.
“Union County voters overwhelmingly approved the Trust Fund more than a dozen years ago because they believed in the value of preserving and improving public resources, and today our communities are still benefiting from this legacy of civic responsibility,” said Freeholder Chairman Linda Carter. “It makes me very proud to know that these funds continue to go to worthy causes.”
The Trust Fund was established in the 2000 election year by popular referendum. The initial goal was to acquire and preserve 100 acres of the rapidly dwindling amount of natural open space left in Union County.
In addition to surpassing that benchmark with acquisitions totaling more than 300 acres countywide, the Trust Fund now includes three matching grant programs that are designed to fit the individual needs and priorities of the 21 municipalities in Union County.
The Preserve Union County program was added in 2003. Providing for grants every other year, it is a merit-based grant program that helps save civic landmarks and historic sites. Eligible projects also include barrier-free access such as ramps, restrooms and elevators.
This year’s Preserve Union County total is $303,000, bringing the overall Preserve Union County total since its inception to approximately $2.8 million.
Some highlights from this year’s round of funding include $20,000 for the Patricia M. Kuran Cultural Center in Fanwood, $25,000 for the Oswald J. Nitschke House in Kenilworth, and $20,850 for the Nathaniel Drake House in Plainfield.
2013 Preserve Union County Grants (Total: $303,016):
- Old First Historic Trust, for First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth ($20,000).
- City of Elizabeth, for Elizabeth River Trail ($25,396).
- City of Elizabeth, for Elizabeth Public Library ($20,000).
- Borough of Fanwood, for Patricia M. Kuran Cultural Center ($20,000).
- Kenilworth Historic Society Inc., for Oswald J. Nitschke House ($25,000).
- Mountainside Restoration Committee, for Levi-Cory House ($30,000).
- City of Plainfield, for Lampkin House and Barn ($25,000).
- Historical Society of Plainfield, for Nathaniel Drake House ($20,000).
- St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, for St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church (($16,770)
- Merchants & Drivers Tavern Museum Association, for Merchants & Drovers Tavern Museum ($20,000).
- Township of Scotch Plains, for Shady Rest Country Club ($25,000).
- First Presbyterian Church of Connecticut Farms, for Connecticut Farms Church ($30,000).
- Liberty Hall Museum Inc., for Liberty Hall Museum – Carriage House ($25,000).
The Kids’ Recreation Trust Fund was established as an initiative of Freeholder Angel G. Estrada in 2004, to help municipalities upgrade their recreational facilities for children. It consists of matching dollar-for-dollar grants that are based on proposals by the municipalities.
Eligible projects can include the improvement of existing playing fields and other facilities, and the construction of new facilities. Bike trails and certain other all-ages projects are also eligible.
Kids Recreation Trust Fund Grants (Total: $1,027,534)
- Berkeley Heights — $10,000 for Police Athletic League.
- Clark — $23,245 for sand volleyball installation and roller hockey rink improvements.
- Cranford — $88,000 for Memorial Field, Roosevelt Playground, and Sherman Field improvements.
- Elizabeth — $88,000 for Elizabeth Conservancy.
- Fanwood — $18,000 for improvements to ice skating rink.
- Garwood — $25,000 for security camera, picnic tables, fence, chairs, phone system, and defibrillator.
- Hillside — $38,959 for light protectors, fans, basketball equipment, signs, bleachers, benches and Health Quest fitness cluster.
- Linden — $66,000 for improvements to Al Kalla Park and Memorial Park.
- Mountainside — $18,250 for improvements to Deerfield school, Echo Brook, and pool facilities.
- New Providence — $50,000 for improvements to Lincoln and Leider fields.
- Plainfield — $88,000 for improvements to playgrounds at Seidler Field.
- Rahway — $124,080 for improvements to softball field, and tennis and basketball courts.
- Roselle — $88,000 for improvements to Cristiani Park.
- Scotch Plains — $10,000 for 16 tables for day camp.
- Springfield — $66,000 for improvements to Chisholm Recreation Center.
- Summit — $50,000 for improvements to bocce court and Wilson Park.
- Union — $88,000 for a tractor and improvements to Rabkin Park.
- Westfield — $88,000 for turf at Houlihan and Fay fields.
The third program, which also launched in 2004 as an initiative of Estrada, is called Greening Union County. It provides matching tree-for-tree grants to help reduce air pollution, cool off urban “heat islands” in warm weather, and provide aesthetic improvements to business districts, public facilities and residential areas.
This year, Greening Union County grants for trees totaled $67,600 for approximately 688 trees.
Greening Union County Grants:
- Berkeley Heights — $1,304
- Cranford — $4,250
- Elizabeth — $17,200
- Fanwood — $1,356.50
- Linden — $11,250
- New Providence — $4,800
- Plainfield — $12,005
- Rahway — $1,500
- Springfield — $2,000
- Summit — $6,250
- Union — $4,700
Since 2004, well over 6,000 trees have been planted through Greening Union County. That includes grants for street trees as well as trees at public historic sites, parks and other public facilities.
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