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August 13, 2003

Contact: Peter Boger
(609) 984-1795

$250,000 Grant to Help Cover Costs in Reopening Veterans Park

(03/113) SOUTH PLAINFIELD -- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today presented South Plainfield Borough with a $250,000 grant to help the community clean up asbestos tiles discovered last summer in Veterans Park. With the funding assistance, South Plainfield plans to reopen the park in October.

“Today’s grant award represents a victory for children and families in South Plainfield,” Commissioner Campbell said. “For many New Jersey towns, parks provide a place where we forge our sense of community. DEP is pleased to support the leadership of municipal officials and legislators in restoring Veterans Park for families to enjoy once again.”

Joining the Commissioner at today’s ceremonial check presentation were Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, Jr., South Plainfield Mayor Daniel Gallagher, South Plainfield Borough Council members, members of the Edison Wetlands environmental group, and representatives from the offices of Assemblyman Peter Barnes, Jr., and Senator Barbara Buono.

“Today’s presentation is an outstanding example of how effectively local government, with the help of the State, can address an environmental hazard,” said Assemblyman Diegnan. “As someone who played in this park during most of my youth, I am particularly grateful to Governor McGreevey and DEP Commissioner Campbell for their ready response and financial assistance.”

South Plainfield closed Veterans Park as a precaution on July 24, 2002 after large patches of oily tar began surfacing in portions of the park and after community advocates discovered stacks of asbestos tiles along Bound Brook in the northwest corner of the park.

The $250,000 grant from the statewide Livable Communities Fund will cover the costs of cleanup for the asbestos tiles, which borough leaders expect will take only a few weeks. The Borough has also secured funding for remediating the rest of the park, including removal of the tar and cleanup of a patch of soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Borough officials hope to complete the project in time to reopen the park by the end of October.

The DEP provided today’s award through the Statewide Livable Communities Fund, which to date has provided more than $7 million in grants to over 75 communities to acquire and to improve open space and parks.

“One of government’s most fundamental commitments is to provide citizens with safe, attractive places in which to gather and to play,” said Commissioner Campbell. “New Jersey is fortunate to have the leadership of a governor dedicated to strengthening our communities through protection of open space.”

As Governor McGreevey promised in his State of the State address, the state is working to create or to improve at least 200 local parks statewide over the next three years. As part of this goal, the Governor initiated a legislative push to raise the cap on bonding for the Green Acres program. This proposal would allow the state to raise at least an additional $100 million over the next three years, of which $50 million would be dedicated to parks and open space acquisition and improvements in urban and older suburban communities.

The decision to raise the bonding cap will appear as a referendum on the November statewide ballot.



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