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Parks, Playgrounds Abound in Teaneck
By Dick Rodda
Teaneck is extremely fortunate in being able to provide for her residents park and playground facilities for all age levels. Twenty park areas have been set aside to insure open spaces and opportunity for leisure pursuits.
There are 14 neighborhood playgrounds, from tot lots, aimed at the very young, to larger formally developed park areas with facilities designed to serve all age levels with athletic fields, tennis, shuffleboard, handball and basketball courts, wading and swimming pools, natural areas, children's apparatus areas, picnic areas,, chess an checker tables, a band shell and amphitheatre and more.
Buffer strips of green grass, trees and foliage were acquired along both sides of Route 4 that consist of more than 21 acres and create an ambience to the image of Teaneck that separates it from the neighboring "gasoline alleys" on the east and west borders.
During several periods of economic stress, local government officials have been tempted to sacrifice the "green belt" along route 4 in favor of permitting commercial establishments to develop there for the revenue in term of taxes that could be realized. That the decision not to succumb to such temptation in order to retain the existing image of the community, is to the credit of the officials and the residents.
Park lands were acquired over a period of many years in a preconceived play developed by the current municipal managers and members of the Township Council. Some land was acquired by purchase with local tax funds; some by swapping land that was owned by the township with desire land that could be seen as adding to potential park development; several parks were gifts made by local residents in memory of loved ones; some parks were acquired via state Green Acres funding programs; and some were acquired via tax title liens.
Teaneck's largest and most rapid growth came with the construction of George Washington Bridge and State Highway 4. Fill for the township's major park then known as Central Park because it is very near the geographic center of the township, and later named Milton G. Votee park in honor of a former mayor who was instrumental in the promotion of parkland acquisition was acquired from the bridge and highway projects as the blasting was done for foundations and roadbeds. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided labor employed to filling the park with such fill.
The Maria Andreas Memorial Park, located on River Road at West Englewood Avenue, was given by the Andreas family in memory of Mrs. Andreas. Fred Andreas was an early chairman of the Township Committee in its early years. The site of the park contained the family homestead. The home was removed when the 16 acres site became a park, but the carriage house remains and is presently used as a storage area for public works material.
Phelps Park, between River Road and Wilson Avenue, was part of the William Walter Phelps estate. The influence of Mr. Phelps can be felt in many ways in the community, particularly in the number and variety of trees that add a special flavor to our town. Phelps was an authority on trees and brought many of the rare varieties of trees found in town from his many trip to Europe and the Far East. Phelps Park was acquired through purchase and land swaps.
Harte Park, located at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Washing Street, was donated to Teaneck by John Harte, a brother of Cornelius Harte, a former police chief. This is a tot lot and reflects Mrs. Harte's concern for the little children in the neighborhood.
Ammann Park, Fort Lee Road between Lees Avenue and Teaneck Road, was a gift of Henry Ammann in the early years of the township's development. This five and a half acre site has been one of the most used of the neighborhood parks over the years.
Terhune Park, located on River Road south of Cedar Lane and adjacent to the Bogota border, was the former site of the Peter Terhune farm. At one point it contained a small pond in the southwest quadrant where some of today's senior citizens learned to swim as children.
The Clarence Brett Park, River Road opposite Downing Street, was acquired with Green Acres bond issue funds provided by the State of New Jersey. Mr. Brett, also a former mayor, was another council member whose love for and appreciation of parks and open spaces was the reason for this park being so named.
School grounds have traditionally lent themselves as adjuncts to the local park system and have been used by young people since time began. These areas provide 16 acres of play potentials and contribute to the total of more than 254 acres of park and play space available to the Teaneck residents.
In addition to township park areas, the local resident has, at his or her doorstep, park areas administered by the Bergen County Park Commission. Here, several thousand acres of parks that offer a wide variety of leisure pursuits, are readily accessible. Golf courses, boating, a wide-life center, zoo, horseback riding, train rides and hiking trails, among other activities, are readily available.
Beyond this, as residents of the state, avenues of access to state facilities are open that include ocean beaches, hunting and fishing areas, boating camping, biking, skiing, nature trails canoeing and more.
The early years positive attitude regarding parks, playgrounds and open space is still being carried on today. Teaneck is the better for it.
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tel.: (201) 837-4171, Fax: (201) 837-0410