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New splash park, turf sport fields, community garden on horizon in Edison

rendering of proposed splash park at Papaianni Park

EDISON – A new splash park, two turf sport fields, a community garden, a second senior center and the expansion of the North Edison Library are all on the horizon.

Mayor Sam Joshi announced the initiatives during the township’s 31st annual State of the Township Address held by the Edison Chamber of Commerce at the Pines Manor on Feb. 22.

“After the past few years of this pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we preserve and expand these open-air spaces so our community can have the same wonderful experience that I did growing up here in Edison,” he said.

Since entering office on Jan. 1, Joshi and his new administration team have been working hard networking major governmental relations with Middlesex County, state and federal officials to benefit Edison taxpayers.

His new administrative team includes: Ray Alcantara, who worked in the governor’s office and general assembly, serves as Joshi’s chief administrative officer; former New Jersey Advance Media reporter Cassidy Grom oversees the administration’s policy prerogatives as well as its communications with the public and media; local business leader Pat Coyle serves as director of constituent relations; and former longtime Township Council member Robert Diehl serves as Joshi’s chief of staff.

“In my first four weeks alone, we’ve won over $1 million in grants,” Joshi said.

And those grants will help move forward capital initiatives to “create safe spaces for us to gather, learn and play and like I did so many years ago: dream big about the future.”

Joshi said they expect to apply for additional grants for historic preservation, recreation, green initiatives, and tremendous infrastructure projects ranging from water and sewer lines to road repaving programs.

Splash park, turf sport fields

Joshi said they propose to transform Papaianni Park across from the municipal complex from disjointed pieces of areas into a well-connected “recreational crown jewel” with a new splash park and turf fields.

The proposed new splash park, which will have sprinkler splash zones and tipping buckets of water, will honor the diversity of Edison Township.

“It’s designed to celebrate Edison’s various cultures including cultural artifacts,” Joshi said. “The splash park will center around a replica of the Edison Tower. The diversity will be showcased with water fixtures such as a dragon, an elephant or a Roman soldier to name a few.

“It is designed with families in mind. A family bathroom with changing stalls will be available. The splash park will be fully enclosed with a fence allowing our busy mothers and fathers to relax knowing their children can’t stray too far.”

The baseball diamond at Papaianni Park will transform into a turf diamond and turf will be placed on the Edison Jets football field on Central Avenue.

“Both of these locations will be available year round for various sports,” Joshi said.

Improvements to the park also include adding a walking path with easy-to-read navigation signs connecting the entire park from Municipal Boulevard to Central Avenue.

“Between our skate park, two turf fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, the lake walk, fishing, sculpture garden, new gazebo, and regular events, we will encourage residents to spend a whole leisurely day there,” Joshi said. “We hope to break ground on both the splash park and turf field early this summer.”

Community Garden

The establishment of the township’s first community garden will take place at Swales Memorial Park at Park Way and Elm Street.

“Residents for years have pushed for this and I’m so excited to finally see it happen,” Joshi said. “The garden will boast a supply shed, 38 beds for growing fruits and vegetables, and worktables where residents can get to know each other while working side by side.”

Joshi noted the Edison Arts Society has agreed to organize a mural competition in the community garden.

“When you enter the garden, you will be struck by its natural and manmade beauty,” he said. “The Township of Edison is building the garden, but a nonprofit will run it. We already worked out the process for residents to apply for a garden bed and a few will be set aside to grow produce for local food pantries. And in this era of rising costs and high inflation, a single bed of fresh produce will make a difference on Edison resident’s wallets.”

Along with the implementation of a community garden, Swales Park will undergo a facelift of a new walking path shaded with trees, a proper backdrop for the baseball diamond, and the installation of a new and improved sand volleyball court.

Toth Health and Senior Citizen Center

The Toth Health Center on Idlewild Road will undergo an approximately 2,000-square foot improvement project and become the township’s second senior center.

“Programming at this location will complement activities at the Edison Senior Center on Woodbridge Avenue and enable them to service hundreds of residents,” Joshi said. “The upgraded new senior center will create a one-stop service area where seniors can receive medical attention and socialize with their friends and our health department leaders will use this space for more important community events.”

Some 15% of Edison residents are 65 years or older and many of them have lived in Edison for decades, Joshi said.

“They are the retired civil servants, teachers and volunteers that have kept our town running through its most turbulent times,” he said. “They are a vital part of our community and we owe it to them to see that they are properly cared for and given the opportunity to continue having stimulating experiences.”

Transportation routes to get seniors to medical appointments and grocery stores will expand and parking spaces to accommodate more activities will be added.

Expansion of North Edison Library

This fall, the expansion of the North Edison library on Grove Avenue is expected to break ground.

“Libraries are no longer simply book depositories, they are co-working places, places for self-improvement, and now interactive learning centers,” he said. “This expansion will include a teen space, a quiet reading area, two rooms for community programs and an exhibit space for local artists and historical groups.”

Joshi kickstarted the project two years ago when he was on the Township Council. A state funded library grant will subsidize half of the total $3 million project, Joshi said.

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