County, Park Users Celebrate Unveiling of Modern Merrill Park

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Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios cuts the ribbon at a ceremony unveiling the newly modernized Merrill Park in Woodbridge Township.  From left to right: Woodbridge Council President Charles Kenny, Middlesex County Parks Director Ralph Albanir, Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, Freeholder Deputy Director Blanquita B. Valenti, Rios, Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac, Councilman James Major, Councilwoman Brenda Velasco and Middlesex County Sheriff Mildred S. Scott are joined by young football players and their coaches at the ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Middlesex County)

Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios cuts the ribbon at a ceremony unveiling the newly modernized Merrill Park in Woodbridge Township. From left to right: Woodbridge Council President Charles Kenny, Middlesex County Parks Director Ralph Albanir, Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, Freeholder Deputy Director Blanquita B. Valenti, Rios, Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac, Councilman James Major, Councilwoman Brenda Velasco and Middlesex County Sheriff Mildred S. Scott are joined by young football players and their coaches at the ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Middlesex County)

ISELIN — About 100 park goers, including members of two local youth football teams and their coaches, gathered to celebrate the newly modernized Merrill Park, which had undergone extensive renovations to provide beautiful walking paths, footbridges and improved traffic flow.

“I believe it is important for all families and individuals alike to have access to exceptional parks. My Freeholder colleagues join me in this belief,” said Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “That is why we continually invest in our outstanding parks system, by building new parks and maintaining and improving others.”

Before the renovations, pedestrians and vehicles shared the same road through the park. Rios said that now that this project is complete, it provides streamlined traffic flow through Merrill Park and a separate and safer, 10-foot-wide paved walking path for pedestrians.

During the program, Freeholder Director Rios and Freeholder Deputy Director Blanquita B. Valenti and Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac acknowledged former Freeholder Stephen J. “Pete” Dalina, who died earlier this month. Freeholder Dalina, who oversaw the County’s Parks System since taking office in 1990, was the force behind its expansion and constant upgrades.

“Pete was an avid sports fan and a great family man, and his goal was to make certain that all our recreational facilities were top-notch so that when our residents wanted to spend quality time outdoors, they could do so at quality facilities!” Deputy Director Valenti said. “This particular park — in Pete’s hometown — is one of the County’s oldest and most used. Already an incredible site for sports and recreation for the residents of Woodbridge and Middlesex County, this modernization helps take this beautiful park to another level.”

“The reconstruction and improvements at Merrill Park in Iselin will better serve Township residents and visitors to the largest County park facility in Woodbridge,” said Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac. “The project improved traffic flow throughout the park, provided new pedestrian walkways, biking paths and bridges connecting core areas of the park, and added new amenities throughout the park. Woodbridge would like to thank the County Board of Chosen Freeholders for their commitment to Merrill Park and to the thousands of Township residents that call this wonderful park “home.”’

The project also included planting 185 new trees and shrubs, building two new footbridges connecting core areas of the park and 120 new parking spaces.

New storm-water retention and infiltration basins will capture storm-water from the parking lots and roads in the park, helping to lessen the impact of flooding in the South Branch of the Rahway River. The basins will naturally treat and filter the water before it enters local waterways.


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