The Borough of Highland Park on September 29, 2022 formally opened the nearly two million dollar renovation of the football fields/track & field/recreation complex behind the Highland Park Middle School/High School. The renovation of the Highland Park Recreation Complex was funded by an allocation from the NJ State FY 2022 budget and local matching funds from the municipal budget as approved by the Highland Park Council Members and the school budget as approved by the Highland Park Board of Education Memvbers. Highland Park elected officials and staff worked tirelessly to obtain the funding from the state and to ensure matching local funds.
In her remarks, the mayor noted:
“The recreation complex at the Middle School/High School is the only large parcel of land owned by the borough. As such, it has served as the location for different broadly-attended borough activities over the years. For example, 2020’s large protest rally after the killing of George Floyd took place at and near that location. Additionally, during the height of Covid-19 the field and track provided much needed and well-used outdoor, safe activity space for walkers, joggers and others. It became evident that the recreation complex was a space ALL Highland Parkers could use and many did.
The demand for the track & turf field is so high at the Middle School and High School that it is not uncommon to have three or four activities running there simultaneously.
The track barely passed inspection in 2019 and there was a strong likelihood that it would no longer pass inspection, so it could be used in competitions.”
Highland Park Borough Councilmember Matthew Hersh, liaison to the Highland Park Public Schools and chair of the Borough’s Arts and Recreation stated: “Our track and field is a cherished and heavily used community resource that directly contributes to the quality of life for all of our neighbors. For health and wellness, our track and field provide a necessary open space for active recreation for people of all ages, which is critically important in a dense community like ours. For athletics, this facility lives up to community expectations and is on par with the quality of our recreational and school athletic programs. From an economic development standpoint, it makes Highland Park more attractive to public and private regional athletic events, making this investment even more powerful.
“But it’s only the beginning. Improving and expanding access to our open spaces is a top priority, particularly as Highland Park and Middlesex County place a renewed emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle mobility, access to transit, and alternate modes of transportation. Highland Park is small and needs help achieving these goals and I thank our LD-18 legislative allies for working with our community to help advance our goals.”
The Mayor also thanked:
Ø United States Congressman Frank Pallone and his staff, who were critical in helping the borough secure funds via a Federal allocation to the NJ State budget.
Ø NJ State Senator Patrick Diegnan and Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, and Assemblyman Sterley Stanley, who championed an allocation from the NJ State FY2022 budget to Highland Park for this project.
Ø The Highland Park Borough Council and the Highland Park Board of Education, which both made this project a priority and each allocated funds to match the state’s $750,000 allocation.
Ø Borough Administrator Teri Jover; CME Engineering – the Borough’s engineering consultants; Scott Brescher, Highland Park’s Code Enforcement Officer; Michael O’Donnell, Director of Facilities at the HP Public Schools; and Craig Girvan, HP HS Athletic Coordinator, who all invested many hours to oversee this project in the design and implementation phases and helped see it through to completion.
At the ribbon cutting that took place on September 29, 2022 were (l-r): NJ Assemblyman Sterley Stanley, Tyler Catania – District Field Representative/Staff Assistant to Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler, Jada Abdullah – Assistant to Assemblyman Stanley, Reggie Quaye of Hellas Construction, Highland Park Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kristina Nicosia, and HPHS Owls Football team members.