LAWRENCE: Park plans come to fruition

By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
With a ceremonial toss of the dirt in their shiny new shovels, Mayor Pam Mount and state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-37th, broke ground for the new entrance to Heritage Park on the border of the Eldridge Park and the Eggerts Crossing neighborhoods.
    The groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 20 was the culmination of several years’ worth of work, and the latest step in the revitalization of the Eggerts Crossing neighborhood, said Harold Vereen. He is the president of the Eggerts Crossing Civic League, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary.
    “This is a great day for the community,” Mr. Vereen told the crowd — which consisted mostly of elected officials — outside the planned entrance to Heritage Park, at the corner of Alcazar Avenue and Short Johnson Avenue. The 3-acre park is adjacent to the Eggerts Crossing Village affordable townhouse development.
    The genesis of Heritage Park is a 2002 study of the Eggerts Crossing neighborhood, prepared by a group of Rutgers University graduate students. The study, dubbed “A Vision for Eggerts Crossing,” recommended a local history-themed park.
    “This is our bible,” Mr. Vereen said, holding up a copy of the study. “Each year, we pull out something from the goals and objectives (of the report). We started with the Greenway path on Johnson Avenue and sidewalks on Short Johnson Avenue.”
    Mayor Mount said Heritage Park borders the Greenway path system, which eventually will link Ewing Township with Lawrence. A portion of the path to the south of Heritage Park will extend to Ewing Township, and a portion of the path to the north will end at Rider University.
    Sen. Weinberg, who is running for the newly created post of lieutenant governor on the Democratic Party ticket, said she is aware of Lawrence Township’s “devotion” to open space and environmental issues.
    “Getting a neighborhood to agree to a vision is not easy. It is terrific to see our citizens involved,” Sen. Weinberg said, as she handed a proclamation — signed by Gov. Jon Corzine — to Mr. Vereen in honor of the Eggerts Crossing Civic League’s anniversary.
    Sen. Weinberg also praised the public/private partnership that made the Heritage Park entrance project possible — a reference to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s $25,000 donation toward the $33,000 project, and the efforts of Mercer County and Lawrence Township. The county is going to clear some dead trees at the entrance to the township-maintained park.
    Other contributors include the Mercadien Group, which is an accounting firm, PRD Management Group, which manages the Eggerts Crossing Village development, and Amalfi’s Restaurant.
    The entrance will consist of a new sidewalk and a plaza, according to architect Robin Murray, who has been guiding the Eggerts Crossing Civic League in the revitalization effort. The group is working on a list of neighborhood and township honorees to be included in Heritage Park.
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