Bids for construction of an artificial turf field and sports lighting for planned upgrades at Rahway River Park will be opened at the end of this month.
An online petition to “Save Rahway River Park” was created earlier this year and is approaching 5,000 signatures.
Members of the Coalition to Save Rahway River Park and residents adjacent to the park have been attending City Council meetings and county Freeholder meetings most of this year to voice opposition to the plan to upgrade the existing track and field and install an artificial turf field with eight-lane track. Opponents of the plan point to the historic nature of the park — designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed New York City’s Central Park and other Union County parks — as well as the need to keep passive recreation in the park.
Mayor Samson Steinman announced plans to upgrade several county parks during his State of the City address in 2014.
City Council in March 2014 adopted a nearly $3-million bond ordinance to fund its share of upgrades, including $2.3 million for Rahway River Park, with the county contributing roughly the same amount.
Original plans called for 5,000-seat bleachers, which have since been reduced to a capacity of 1,200, as well as an area for field events, concession stands and restrooms. City officials have called the project an ideal example of shared services, and cited flooding at Veterans Field on Central Avenue as one reason to move high school football games to the county park. The high school’s championship track and field squad also has not had a home meet in seven years, according to the mayor.