Continue to query Port Authority on removal of support

ABERDEEN, NJ – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders authorized the full funding of a new County regional park in Aberdeen and Marlboro this afternoon.

“Time is of the essence in moving forward with this purchase of open space to create a new County park in Aberdeen,” said Freeholder Director Gary J. Rich. “The property owners have made their intention to sell the entire 87.8 acres by this spring.”

MonmouthCounty previously negotiated the $10.6 million purchase of approximately 87.8 acres in the Freneau section of Aberdeen and MarlboroTownships from Aberdeen/Wilson Associates, LLC.

 

On August 7, 2014, the Board of Chosen Freeholders initially authorized $5.6 million toward the purchase of the property with a commitment from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for the remaining $5 million.

“The Port Authority appears to be unwilling to honor its commitment of sharing to fund a project that will preserve significant portions of the Matawan Creek watershed and eventually provide a 250-acre park,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the County Park System. “The Port Authority’s offer to help move this deal forward appears to have been withdrawn.  Fortunately, MonmouthCounty has an invaluable Open Space Trust Fund to finance the entire purchase.”  

“We continue to ask the question, where is the funding?” said Freeholder Deputy Director DiMaso. “The Board was extremely disappointed to be made aware that this critical funding may not be provided by the Port Authority Hudson Raritan Estuary Resources Program to help acquire the property and we have modified the County’s cost-share twice to accommodate a change of heart on the part of the Port Authority.”

On December 18, 2014 the freeholders authorized a $2 million increase commitment to the project. Today’s action increased the cost-share an additional $3 million with the County fully-funding the purchase out of the Monmouth County Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protections, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

The Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted Resolution #2014-0619 requesting that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey “uphold their agreement to provide funding for the acquisition of this project to create a new park in the Townships of Aberdeen and Marlboro.”

Today’s resolution included a paragraph that states: “… in the event of a commitment of funding assistance by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, any moneys received will be a reimbursement to the County…”

MonmouthCounty has been actively working on the creation of this new park since 2011. To help create the park, a conservation partnership was put together that includes the County of Monmouth, AberdeenTownship, Port Authority of NY & NJ, the NY/NJ Baykeeper, Monmouth Conservation Foundation and NJ DEP Green Acres Program.

“A working coalition of partners is the best way to get a significant project like this started and completed,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone. “To have one of the partners withdraw the funding could prove fatal in the creation of this new park.”

“In an area that is already heavily developed and is home to many commuters, a new park would go a long way to help to meet the recreation and open space needs of our citizens,” said Freeholder John P. Curley. “This Board will hold the Port Authority to their promise to help provide this new regional park.”

“The new park would encompass hardwood uplands, open recreational areas and headwater lowland areas with significant storm water storage capacity,” said Burry. “Protecting and managing these resources are important issues to the local community. This park needs to be created in perpetuity.”

As stated in its adopted resolution, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders strongly urges the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to provide the essential funding from New Jersey’s portion of the original allocation of the Hudson Raritan Estuary Resources Program. With this funding, a parcel critical to the establishment of the new public park, the Aberdeen/Wilson Associates, LLC property, can be acquired and preserved. 

A copy of the resolution has been sent to Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, State Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos, Jr., Monmouth County Board of Recreation Commissioners, the Office of County Counsel and Aberdeen/Wilson Associates, LLC.