The Somerset County Board of County Commissioners awarded Open Space funding totaling $800,000 that will bring pickle ball courts, a community pavilion and a community garden to life.
The grants, provided to Bernardsville, Hillsborough, and Bedminster respectively, are part of a commitment by the Commissioners to ensure every Somerset County resident can benefit from the county Open Space funds, according to a press release through Somerset County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 9.
“We’ve learned over the past two and a half years of COVID how important outdoor recreation is to living a healthy, full life in Somerset County,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Melonie Marano, liaison to the Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC). “The Recreational Grant Program ensures that no matter where you live in Somerset County, there’s an outdoor facility nearby you can enjoy with your friends and family.”
South Bound Brook’s Memorial Park Pavilion is nearing completion following its funding as part of Somerset County’s Recreational Open Space Grant program in May 2021.
Early last year the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners expanded the Recreation Grant Program established in 2008 for turf athletic fields to include funding for active and passive municipal recreational spaces such as athletic facilities, picnic areas, trails, exercise paths and gardens.
The goal of the County Open Space Preservation Program is to continue to aggressively pursue the acquisition of land for open space, but to also ensure Open Space funding is fairly distributed to communities without available tracts of land, officials said.
As of July 2022, the program has provided almost $3 million for nine projects and is expecting to fund additional projects in the coming months. The currently funded projects are:
Manville was awarded $250,000 for its Lost Valley Nature Park project in January 2021.
South Bound Brook was awarded $350,000 for to the construction of a new pavilion at Memorial Park in May 2021.
Bound Brook was awarded $455,000 for improvements to its municipal pool at Codrington Park in July 2021.
Warren was awarded $300,000 for the replacement of the pavilion at the Municipal Complex in August 2021.
Bridgewater was awarded $350,000 for trail improvements at Camp Cromwell in October 2021.
Franklin was awarded $360,000 for the development of a playground at Catalpa Park in October 2021.
Bernardsville was awarded $250,000 to install pickle ball courts at the Polo Grounds March 2022.
Hillsborough was awarded $250,000 to build a community pavilion at the Mike Merdinger Memorial Trail in April 2022.
Bedminster was awarded $300,000 to build a community garden at River Road Park in July 2022.
Municipalities interested in funding under the Recreation Grant Program must have a well-developed, preferably “shovel-ready” project, with estimated costs. Funding requests can be made in writing to Thomas Boccino, PP, LLA, Supervising Planner-Preservation, 20 Grove St., Somerville, NJ 08876 or email@example.com.
If the application meets the criteria of the program, the municipality will be asked to make a presentation to the Open Space Advisory Committee. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with no annual deadline for submission, allowing municipalities to submit when ready.