Ten Eyck Park
Over the past few years many people have found our river access locations and have begun using it for picnics and swimming. Unfortunately, the volume of people using the facility has created a dangerous situation wherein open fires, makeshift latrines, loose dirty diapers, alcohol consumption, excessive garbage and potentially dangerous swimming have become a problem for our community. As we had to do last year, we are testing the soils and water along the riverbank for fecal matter and other contaminants.
The township was very reticent to close the park this year as we know it is a popular river front location for the legitimate uses such as small picnics, fishing and kayak/canoe launches. We initially sought to limit the parking as a means to discourage large group gatherings. This proved non-effective as people crammed the parking area, double parking and making it impossible for emergency services to access the site in the event something occurs.
The volume of illegal and potentially dangerous activity at the park has created a health, safety and liability issue that the township cannot allow to continue. Recent newspaper articles have highlighted drowning deaths at unsupervised rivers. Swimming in the river combined with alcohol consumption poses a real danger to visitors and a liability for our community. The use of our woodlands and, sadly, nearby residential properties for latrines is a major health concern.
The creation of open fires and voluminous garbage left in the woods and along the riverbank is not something we can allow as it can have a direct effect on our waters, wildlife and parks.
The township intends to keep the park closed until we complete the testing and safety mitigation efforts. We will have dedicated police presence at the park each weekend to ensure the closure and all local ordinances are enforced.
Our police officers and staff assigned to park ranger duties will communicate and enforce our local ordinances, however, the best enforcement is to work towards prevention of the violations in the first place to ensure the safety of the community. We continue to work with law enforcement in adjacent towns and the Somerset County Park Commission to coordinate our policies across the region.
As we have always, we welcome and encourage the use of our parks and open space and ask that people review, understand, and adhere to the posted rules and regulations in each park.
Gregory J. Bonin, Township Administrator