Mercer County Park Commission finalizes plan for improvements at park

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The Mercer County Park Commission has finalized dam site 21’s master plan.

The flood-prone land along Miry Run has a park and one of several dams as part of a flood mitigation initiative known as the Assunpink Creek Watershed Water Works Plan.

The dam was constructed in the mid-1980s and created a lake of almost 50 acres. The site is surrounded by Robbinsville, Hamilton Township and West Windsor.

After a year-long planning process, commission members announced a plan to restore the park’s natural areas and to create new passive recreation opportunities.

Of the property’s 279 acres, 17 acres (6% of the site) would be disturbed for trails, parking and other visitor facilities, the majority of which is limited to previously disturbed areas.

When work is complete, the site’s natural features will be augmented through the establishment of 34 acres of new forest which will contain an estimated 14,000 new trees, and 64 acres of new native meadows.

According to commission officials, during 2019 the commission and a team of consultants performed environmental research on dam site 21 and hosted public meetings to solicit input for potential improvements to the park.

In November, a draft master plan was released, followed by a 60-day public comment period. Having reviewed and considered all comments, the commission’s dam site 21 steering committee has now finalized its plan.

“Through our public meetings and online survey, more than 1,000 county residents have shared their ideas for dam site 21 and we have listened,” Mercer County Park Commission Executive Director Aaron Watson said.

“The final plan includes improvements suggested by neighbors, environmental organizations and municipal public safety officials, and will serve as a guiding vision to make the park more accessible to county residents, while also improving water quality, wildlife habitat and site sustainability,” Watson said.

The final plan reflects revisions that are a direct result of public recommendations. The recommendations include providing access to the core activity area from Old Trenton Road, rather than from Line Road; adding emergency responder water access at Line Road and at the core activity area; relocating a proposed maintenance shed away from Hughes Drive to the core activity area; removing trails from woodlands adjacent to Hutchinson Road and Miry Run; combining the nature-based playground and inclusive playground into one play area; reducing trails and relocating a plant nursery farther from Hughes Drive to better
maintain the property’s residential appearance; and providing evergreen plant buffers near abutting residential properties.

The final master plan was presented for consideration for adoption at the commission’s Jan. 29 meeting at the Mercer Oaks Golf Club, West Windsor.

Officials said the master plan will serve as a long-term vision for improvements to the park, which will be implemented in phases depending on funding availability and other factors.