Will the historic integrity of Cedar Brook Park be compromised by installation of artificial turf, removal of original trees and addition of bleachers and 1,500-watt lights? A hearing on Union County's proposed changes will be held 10 a.m. Thursday in Trenton and the public may comment.
The Plainfield hearing is among five on the agenda of The New Jersey Historic Sites Council meeting, to be held in the Public Hearing Room of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Building, 401 E. State St. Trenton. (Directions)
Cedar Brook Park was designed by the famed landscape architects, Olmsted Brothers of Boston. The park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. One of the objections to the changes is that they will affect the "pleasant vistas and gentle slopes" that are hallmarks of Olmsted design.
As described in documents on file in the Planning Division, the issue dates back several months. The Plainfield Planning Board had referred the matter to the Historic Preservation Commission, but Union County attorney Robert Barry objected, saying HPC Chairman Bill Michelson, also an attorney, had a conflict because of .his involvement with another county project in Rahway.. Barry also said no evidence had been submitted regarding historic conditions at the park area in question.
The proposal is for two fields, one full-size for adult use and a smaller one for children. Bleachers would accommodate fifty to 100 people. The county did drop a proposed scoreboard. Lighting would be provided by sixteen 80-foot poles with 1,500-watt halide lamps with shielding. Forty-foot high netting could be lowered for winter and for storms. A split-rail fence is proposed and twelve mature trees would be removed.
HPC members objected to the size and scope of the bleachers, possible light pollution, the type of turf proposed, overflow of parking into nearby streets and in general found the proposal "highly active" while the park was designed for the quieter, passive recreation of a century ago.
The HPC concluded that the project "cannot be done at all without doing violence to Cedar Brook Park." The case was "dismissed without prejudice" on Feb. 8.
Documents from the Planning Board and HPC are on file in the Planning Division and may be reviewed during normal business hours. The New Jersey Historic Sites Council is advisory and will refer its opinion to DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.