Twp. to acquire five acres for recreation

By nicole c. vaccaro

Staff Writer

MONROE — As a perk for hosting the New Jersey Training School for Boys, the State House Commission has offered township officials lease rights to five acres of land on North State Home Road.

The state-owned property is located next to Daniel Ryan Memorial Field and would be leased to the township at the rate of $1 per year for 25 years to be used for recreational purposes.

Should Township Council members accept the state’s offer, they say the land will be used to accommodate cheerleading practice for the Wolverines squad.

The Wolverines are Monroe’s Pop Warner football team that currently uses Daniel Ryan Field.

In addition to this pending agreement, there have also been talks of the township’s acquiring an additional 92-acre tract of land located just off Spotswood-Englishtown Road, which officials had hoped to convert into a park with trails, fishing, and picnic areas.

Unfortunately, that offer may now be off the table, according to state Treasury Department spokesman Francis Rapa.

As is customary after a potential offer is made, the Treasury Department notifies other state agencies of its intentions for the land.

"Since doing so, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as well as the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) and the Department of Agriculture have each expressed interest in acquiring the property," Rapa said.

The DEP would like to obtain the property to trade it for land currently owned by the JJC, Rapa added.

The Ocean Residential Center site, a juvenile detention facility in Lacey Township, is currently owned by the DEP; however, the JJC has expressed interest in obtaining ownership of the property.

The DEP has agreed to do so, pending it is awarded the 92-acre parcel.

"To be honest, I’d like to see Monroe take over the land as a sort of reward for their cooperation in hosting the jail all these years," Rapa said. "But it is obvious there are still many more issues to iron out."

Among those issues left to discuss will be determining how the land is used and a cost analysis.

"We may find we need to deed-restrict the property for open space preservation or else agriculture," Rapa said. "However, nothing is carved in stone at the moment."

The township has been petitioning for such "compensations" for hosting the juvenile facility for years, especially once it became apparent that the facility would neither be moved nor closed.

Currently, the township receives $12,000 a year for hosting the New Jersey Training School for Boys.

Township officials will hold a second reading of their ordinance regarding acceptance of the 5-acre land acquisition during the Aug. 28 council meeting.