Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Athenia Park in Line to Get 4 New Fields

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Athenia Park in Line to Get 4 New Fields

Article excerpt

CLIFTON -- The city hopes to begin construction of a $4 million expansion of the Athenia Steel Recreation Complex this summer, adding new fields and a senior recreation area to the booming city park.

"This is going to finish it off," said Councilman Joe Kolodziej. "It's going to turn into a crown jewel for the city."

The renovations will include four new synthetic turf fields, play areas for young children and a sporting area suited for seniors who live in a nearby housing development. A walking path that wraps around the three existing fields will be expanded to encircle the entire property, and perhaps the most alluring feature: twice as many parking spots, up to 350.

Demand for the park is so great that on Saturdays cars spill out from the parking lot onto an access road, and some casual soccer players complain of being regularly booted off the fields as city rec teams begin their practice.

"It's loaded all the time," declared one mother, who said she brings her three children to the park nearly every day. After told of the expansion plans, she turned toward her kids and said, "Now I'm going to lose you all here."

Construction would fill in 19 fenced-in acres at the center of the property, where the former Athenia Steel factory buried its construction debris decades ago. The site, off Clifton Avenue, still needs environmental remediation and likely would be capped. If everything goes as scheduled, the fields would be built and ready for gaming by this time next year.

The project is being funded with state Green Acres funds and about $2 million in a bond package the City Council is expected to approve tonight.

Clifton purchased the 35-acre site for $5.5 million from Athenia Steel in 1999. Residents at the time blasted local officials for the purchase, questioning why they spent so much for land that seemed to have no purpose. …

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