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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE

RELEASE: 1/7/02
02/4

CONTACT: Loretta O'Donnell or Amy Collings
(609) 984-1795 or 609-292-2994

DEP SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH PLAINFIELD AND UNION COUNTY TO INCREASE OPEN SPACE

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Shinn today signed major environmental protection agreements with the City of Plainfield and Union County to increase parkland in the City and ensure long-term improvements in environmental quality for residents including additional open space, improved recreational facilities, a bikeway and development of the Green Brook Pedestrian Pathway.

"These agreements memorialize our commitment to work with Plainfield and Union County to preserve open space and improve environmental quality. Preserving areas along the Green Brook and other stream corridors is a win-win for the city and county as it will improve the quality of life for residents, protect flood prone areas and spur the revitalization of downtown Plainfield. Economic prosperity is key to revitalization, and enhancing the parks in the city adds amenities for current and future residents," Shinn said.

The two Performance Partnership Agreements include immediate financial commitments and long-term strategies to preserve open space and add other environmental improvements. Plainfield and Union County will both add land in the central district of Plainfield to their Green Acres inventories, and restore a one-half acre parking area to play space at the Madison Avenue Playground. Plainfield will dedicate acreage along the Green Brook as the first part of the Green Brook Pedestrian Pathway.

The county will provide the $50,000 needed to do the design phase of the Green Brook Pedestrian Pathway, which will include a 25-foot wide park area with a marked walking and bicycling trail. The county will also funds the initiation of a program to install and renovate equipment for Plainfield's current inventory of playgrounds. Union County will also provide $100,000 toward the purchase of a new park in Plainfield to include open space and a playground.

"We are pleased that Commissioner Shinn and the DEP recognize the importance of creating parkland and protecting open space in urban municipalities," said Freeholder Chairman Lewis Mingo, Jr. "We look forward to working with the commissioner's staff to supplement Union County's ongoing commitment to open space and recreational opportunities."

Plainfield Mayor Albert McWilliams gave this his full support. "I am pleased that the DEP, Union County and the c ity have been able to put together a path breaking set of agreements to increase open space in the community, making it possible for our residents to profit from more and better opportunities to enjoy nature. It is also appropriate that our city council has seen fit to establish an environmental commission, which will provide an opportunity for residents to participate in the discussion and oversight of environmentally related issues in the community."

Plainfield's agreement includes long-term goals to increase the amount of open space and recreational facilities, minimize impacts to flood hazard areas and encouraged the recently established Plainfield Environmental Commission. The city has already met with DOT to begin plans for the bikeway. Other agreements include creation of a list of prioritized brownfield sites to accelerate redevelopment and an initiative to promote landscaping and greening throughout Plainfield.

Union County's long-term strategies include increasing open space in cities in the Urban Coordinating Council program with the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, which currently includes Plainfield and Elizabeth, or other cities entering into similar agreements with DEP. The county will work to protect additional lands along the Green Brook, the Elizabeth River and other stream corridors, to increase tree plantings, and to expand the pedestrian pathway and other areas to link the county's open space lands.

The city and county will conduct overviews of environmental quality, including industrial, solid waste, green house gas reduction, and open space, and develop key baseline data to measure the extent of environmental improvements. Action plans will be developed and the city and county will work with a team leader at DEP who will assist in meeting and tracking project goals.

DEP has previously signed Performance Partnership Agreements with Bayonne, Hudson County, Perth Amboy, Wildwood and Burlington County. The agreements are modeled after DEP's agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, called the National Environmental Performance Partnership System, which outlines goals and measures to track environmental progress.

 

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