The Byram Township Council reviewed preliminary plans to improve C.O. Johnson Park at their meeting, May 18, and authorized buying body cameras for the police department.
Mike Piga and Denis Keenan of French and Parrello Associates discussed C.O. Johnson Park improvements and preliminary plans. Keenan emphasized that the information was for planning purposes and setting budgets by the Council.
The preliminary plans can be found on byramtwp.org, under, “News and Noteworthy,” C.O. Johnson Park Improvements.
Keenan said Byram Township is limited in development because of being located in the Highland’s preservation area and needing to be cautious of changing the amount of impervious coverage in the park. Impervious coverage is the amount of surfaces where rain water can not pass through, including: driveways, paved rock ways, and buildings.
Park Improvements Budgetary Costs:
Option A - $645,400: Relocation of Storm water Basin and Fields 7 and 8, Field Improvements, Irrigation (1 new field), Permanent Goal Posts (1 field), and Landscaping (field lawn areas only).
Option B - $760,690: Proposed Prefabricated Concession Stand and Bathrooms, Electric Service, Water Service, Septic System, Storm water Management, Earthwork, Concrete Sidewalk.
Option C - $347,875: Demo Existing Building and Parking, Abatement, Demo Site Features, Seeding and Stabilization, Survey, Highlands Permitting.
Option D - $2.083 million: Proposed Recreation Center Building, Electric Service, Water Service, Septic System, Storm water management, Earthwork and Site Amenities, Concrete Sidewalk.
Phase E - $473,500: Main Park Lot Improvements, Asphalt Pavement, Earthwork, Storm water Management/Rain Garden, Split Rail Fence, Pavement Markings, Site Clearing and Demo.
Option F - $177,375: Proposed Dog Park, Site Clearing, Vinyl Coated Chain Link Fencing, Grading and Storm water Management, Parking Lot (Full Depth Asphalt), Asphalt walkway (2” thick), Concrete Walkway, and Dog Park Equipment.
Phase G - $125,200: Relocate Basketball Court, Basketball Court Pavement, Parking Area, Walkways, Fencing, Basketball Nets, Storm water Management, Site Clearing, and Demo.
Phase H - $251,585: Relocate Playground.
Phase I - $186,815: Proposed Walking Paths in Park.
Deputy Mayor Raymond Bonker said they have the right plan because it reflects what residents had requested through the Greener by Design Survey: extensive walking trails and dog park. He said it may take over ten years to complete the park improvements, and they will need to revolve around priorities. Due to survey results, he suggested completing the dog park first, which offers the highest immediate value with the lowest dollar cost.
Mayor Alexander Rubenstein and Councilwoman Cris Franco agreed about prioritizing the dog park.
Franco asked about not losing impervious coverage while timing the removal of the old recreation building and building the new recreation center. She also recommended adding to the trails concurrently with the dog park.
Keenan said he would verify with the New Jersey Highlands Council about impervious coverage guidelines.
Councilman Jack Gallagher questioned getting rid of the skate park, because he saw a tremendous amount of kids using it.
Piga said there may be five years left in the skate park.
Township Manager Joseph Sabatini said the skate park equipment could be relocated.
Councilman Harvey Roseff said they would need to see what would financially fit with what they can achieve.
In other business
Ordinance to acquire police department body cameras: The council unanimously approved an ordinance to authorize a capital expenditure to buy body cameras for the police department, not to exceed $35,000. Public hearing will be June 1.
Officials emphasized that it was a state mandate, which probably would not be completely reimbursed - contrary to state rhetoric.