The Hunterdon County Freeholder Board, June 2 approved the purchase of approximately 6.2 acres of open space in Milford to be dedicated toward the creation of the first riverfront park and trail in the county.
The property, which sits along the Delaware River, was purchased at a cost of $434,000 from the county’s open space funds.
“We are now one step closer to creating the county’s first riverfront park,” commented Freeholder Matt Holt, the board’s liaison for Economic Development. “And as great as that is, it’s possibly just the beginning of what is possible at this location.”
According to Holt, the county is also working toward creating a trail that would connect Bridge Street in Milford with Frenchtown.
“The goal is to connect these two river towns and make it easy for residents and visitors alike to enjoy all that Hunterdon’s riverfront has to offer, including the charming main streets and restaurants, and, of course, the beauty of the river,” Holt added.
According to Holt, the project addresses many of the Freeholder’s goals for the county’s economic development initiative, as it uses open space to help drive economic development, provides investment in a county municipality, contributes to tourism, and supports local merchants by helping to attract visitors to the river town area.
The land purchase contract is contingent on the results of testing at the site and would become final later in the year pending results of those tests.
Meanwhile, Economic Development Director Marc Saluk, whose office is managing the project, said his office and the county’s planning department are working together to plan next steps toward the design and creation of both the park and the trail. Saluk said they are also working very closely with Milford officials as they move forward.
“Many in the community are thrilled about the project and we look forward to working with the county as it continues to develop,” said Milford Mayor Henri Schepens. “There’s so many positives in Milford right now and this project is a big part of that.”
Schepens added that the project is moving forward in step with a resurgence in Milford. The former Curtis Paper Mill site clean-up is complete and the site is being actively marketed by International Paper.
Additionally, the town has embarked on an effort to expand its main street business district and has had many new shops and restaurants open in recent years. Substantial new infrastructure upgrades have also improved the area adjacent to where the park will be located.