Allentown seeks to acquire land for passive recreation

By Andrew Martins
Staff Writer

ALLENTOWN – Two lots near Mechanic and Hamilton streets could become municipal open space if a $250,000 bond ordinance is adopted by the Borough Council.

A bond ordinance that was introduced on July 12 authorizes the issuance of $225,000 in bonds and a $25,000 down payment from Allentown’s municipal open space trust fund to acquire 2.74 acres from a resident.

A public hearing on and a vote to adopt the ordinance were scheduled for the council’s July 26 meeting.

Mayor Gregory Westfall said the parcels would only be used for passive recreation.

“The thinking is that there would be a trail through the property from one access point to another,” he said.

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres program, passive recreation describes activities that require little to no improvement on a property. Activities could include walking, hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, bird watching, nature observation, boating, fishing and hunting.

Westfall said plans for the land’s conversion to municipal open space have been in the works with the property owner, Russ Wilbert & Sons Custom Homes, since 2013. He said the owner will demolish several structures on the property before Allentown takes ownership.

“The owner has gone through the demolition permit process and all of the requirements in order to comply with local and state statutes,” Westfall said.

The mayor said officials hope to have the property open to the public by the end of 2016.