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Allentown will acquire land for passive recreation

ALLENTOWN – Property at 32 1/2 Main Street is slated to become municipal open space following the adoption of a $250,000 bond ordinance by the Borough Council.

The ordinance that was adopted in a 5-0 vote on July 26 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 Russ Wilbert & Sons Custom Homes.

Council President Wil Borkowski and council members Angela Anthony, Madeline Gavin, Robert Strovinsky and Johnna Stinemire voted to adopt the ordinance. Councilman Rob Schmitt was absent.

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

“The thinking is that there will 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 (i.e., walking, hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, nature observation).

Westfall said plans for the land’s conversion to municipal open space have been in the works with the property owner since 2013. The mayor said the owner has demolished a structure on the tract and he said that action will permit Allentown to assume ownership of the parcel.

Borkowski described the structure that was demolished as a “blighted building.”

Westfall said all utilities have been removed from the site and he said the borough’s engineer will review the land for any sign of contamination. He said officials will pursue a grant to help offset the cost of purchasing the property.

During public comment prior to the vote to adopt the bond ordinance, resident John Fabiano said of the council’s move to acquire the land, “Well, it’s about time.”

Officials are hoping to close on the property on or before Nov. 15.

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