UPDATED MASTER SITE PLAN (Nov. 12, 2019)
WEST WINDSOR - (November 13, 2019) - The Mercer County Park Commission is facing increasing opposition to its planned passive recreation park at Dam Site 21 in Hamilton, Robbinsville and West Windsor.
Concerns range from traffic and safety, to parking to cost. According to a report in the Trentonian on November 12, the full vision of the planned park by the architecture firm Simone Collins could have a pricetage approaching $20 million.
The latest public meeting was held November 12, when a draft plan was presented to the public, which then has 60 days to provide feedback to the county. Based on the feedback, the county will finalize the plan and present it to the parks commission, who then will make the decision to ultimately approve it or not. Township Administrator Joy Tozzi and Director of Community Development Hal English - a non-voting member of the Dam Site 21 committee - are representing Robbinsville constituents at the proceedings.
Mercer County purchased more than 275 acres of land to build a passive recreation park and one of several dams as part of a flood mitigation initiative known as the Assunpink Creek Watershed Water Works Plan.
Referred to as Dam Site 21, the property is located in Robbinsville, West Windsor and Hamilton townships. The dam was constructed in the mid-1980s, and created a lake of almost 50 acres. The surrounding land comprises undeveloped uplands, wetlands, woodlands, open meadows and farm fields. Today there is limited public access and few amenities in the park, but the public uses the area for activities such as fishing, kayaking and hiking. In January, the Mercer County Park Commission kicked off a series of meetings to solicit input for possible improvements to the park, including a public forum on March 7 to hear ideas and concerns from County residents.
The initial plan showed that approximately 95 percent of the land area will be targeted for habitat enhancement or designated for long-term management as natural areas, where efforts would be taken to remove invasive plant species and enhance the habitat while protecting water quality along the Miry Run. Approximately 10 acres of park land (approximately 5 percent of the land) is identified for park improvements in this initial plan of ideas.
The proposed nature-based playground and an inclusive play area, which would have been the only portion of the park located in Robbinsville, was relocated to the West Windsor portion of the property on the revised site plan.
The other proposed improvements include:
• Several types of trails and boardwalks that total approximately 7 linear miles. This includes a tree canopy walk through an area of vernal pools.
• Parking lots and driveways
• Small restrooms and pavilions
• A group camping area that would accommodate about 30-40 campers
• Kayak launch and water trail
• Fishing access areas
• Protected swimming area for a limited number of swimmers each day
• A native plant arboretum and horticultural garden
A portion of the Capital to Coast Trail runs along the northern side of the lake from Line Road in Robbinsville to Old Trenton Road in West Windsor. Township residents of Combs Road also would be impacted.