Former Mayor Votee Led Move For Teaneck Parks

By Madeleine M. Schmidt

Teaneck -- Teaneck's attractive parks, which catch the eye of visitors and Township residents alike, were developed mainly because of the foresight of former Mayor Milton G. Votee.

Votee takes great pride in the Township's picnic and playground facilities.  The various parks afford opportunities for ice skating, tennis, baseball, softball, block dancing, community band concerts in the summer, and picnicking, with facilities for cooking outdoors on park fireplaces.

Equally important to the small fry of the town is the complete playground equipment, including slides, swings, merry-go-rounds, jungle gyms, and wading pools.  The Recreation Department conducts an extensive summer playground program in the park and play areas.

Votee, now secretary of the Bergen County Sewer Authority, recalls that as chairman of the Planning board, he spoke before the Lower Teaneck Civic Association in the interest of acquiring sites for park development in 1930.

In the audience at the civic group meeting, Votee related, was an intensely interested spectator, who kept interrupting him to ask questions.  The chairman tried to hush the interrogator, but Votee said he didn't mind the quizzing.  The questioner turned out to be Edward A. Ammann, who donated the Ammann estate for the Township's first park.

This estate, in the southern part of the town, immediately was developed into Ammann Park.  The homestead on the property was torn down.  The Civilian Conservation Corps, born of the depression period, aided in its creation, the park still retains its rustic character.

Central Park, largest in the system, perhaps commands the most attention, viewed from Queen Anne Road.  Its green woodsy expanse of 54 acres begins just north of Route 4, extending to the West Englewood business section.

The amphitheater, where a community band presents weekly concerts during the summer months, stands on a natural elevation, and required slight labor, Votee explained.  The pond is used for ice skating in the winter.

Central Park was developed with Federal funds, by W. P. A. labor during the Roosevelt administration, at no cost to the Township, The W. P. A. paid 5 cents a yard for fill dumped into this low-lying swampy land, Votee said.  The fill, taken from a sandpit east of Cedar Lane near Teaneck Road, was trucked free of charge, he added.

The entire park cost the Township less than $100,000, the former Mayor said.  Since most of the lots were sold at auction for taxes, the Township acquired title to most of the land, and had to buy only a few pieces.

HIGH PRESSURE USED

Votee recalled the high-pressure tactics of auctioneers from New York City, who ran special trains a small strip off Newbridge Road, has a historical significance -- Washington's Continental Army marched through this area.

Unique will be Tokaloka Park, east of River Road at Maitland Avenue.  This area, where deer have been seen even in recent years, will be preserved in its natural state so residents can observe existing wild life.  A pond enhances its beauty.  Sixth years ago, deer abounded in this section.

One of the newer parks, dedicated in 1952, is the Maria W. Andreas Memorial Park on River Road at the foot of West Englewood Avenue.  Frederick Andreas gave this property, on which the Andreas family had lived for more than half a century, to the town for a memorial park to honor his mother.

Terhune Park, bordering the Hackensack River south the Cedar Lane, is one of the newest, partially-developed sites.  The Township took title to this property in 1949.  Now it treasures picnic tables and fireplaces for outdoor cooking, overlooking the river.

Route 4, marginal strip parks were acquired as protective strips to prevent the erection of gas businesses, which flourish along the highway in most other County municipalities.

Votee, as Planning Board chairman, led the fight to keep route 4 from being zoned for business in Teaneck.  His most inveterate opponent in this battle was William Sample, whose farm was cut in half by the construction of the highway.

Years later, Votee recounts, a visitor appeared at his home at 95 Park Avenue.  It was Sample, who had since moved to New York State.  He explained that he had just stopped by to tell Votee he realized the wisdom of the former Mayor in his campaign to keep Route 4 a residential area.

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