North Brunswick officials adopt new open space plan

NORTH BRUNSWICK – Officials have adopted the part of the North Brunswick Township Master Plan that meets open space guidelines.

Although the township met its New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) standards under Maser Consulting in 2000, in 2006, under Heyer, Gruel, the 26 pages of open space requirements were not sufficient to meet DEP standards, township Planner Thomas Vigna said during the Dec. 5 Planning Board meeting.

Therefore, the Planning Board had until Dec. 31 to adopt a new open space and recreation plan in order to remain eligible for DEP Green Acres funding.

With the addition of the Otken Farm, the Pulda Farm and Crabiel Park, the township was able to eliminate its deficiency noted in the 2006 plan, Vigna said. There are currently 207 acres of active recreation and 356 acres of undeveloped open space, for a total of 563 acres throughout the township.

Since the population projection for North Brunswick is 46,500 – not including those who are institutionalized at the county workhouse or who are in group homes – the projected buildout for open space is 58 acres by 2027 and 72 acres by 2037, Vigna said. This assumes 6 acres of active recreation per 1,000 residents, he said, not including 34 acres owned by the county at the soccer fields in front of the workhouse on Route 130, and a multipurpose turf field and softball field at Crabiel Park off Milltown Road.

There are still five undeveloped areas in town, which include the 20-acre Skiritka property behind the Board of Education offices on Old Georges Road/two acres of the Board of Ed property once those offices move, 23 acres between Crabiel Park and Milltown Road, 24 acres by DeVry University on Route 1 south, 22 acres at the Treumann site on Route 130 south and 14 acres of Johnkins property by Farrington Lake.

Vigna said that the township is not currently seeking to purchase any property, but that the aforementioned sites are available should the township need to increase its open space property further.

Vigna also said that the North Brunswick Open Space Committee has discussed enhancing Babbage Park for seniors and those with special needs, building an indoor recreation facility for basketball and wrestling, designing a full community center with a stage and indoor/outdoor pool, constructing a skate park, proposing a hockey rink, building a boat ramp to Farrington Lake, making a golf course or driving range, and/or adding a second cricket field.

Vigna clarified that these are not specific recommendations and would have to be studied before moving forward. He also said that the general guidelines refer to active recreation space, since the township has more than enough passive open space.

After the Planning Board’s adoption of the plan on Dec. 5, Lou Ann Benson, director of the North Brunswick Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Services, was instructed to send the plan to DEP.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.