Middlesex County and Perth Amboy residents celebrated the official opening of Thomas Mundy Peterson Park on Saturday, Sept. 25 with a ribbon cutting ceremony, picnic games, history lectures, football and soccer drills, food vendors, Vo-Tech and Middlesex College open houses, and more. Thomas Mundy Peterson Park is the 19th park in the Middlesex County Park System.
“Thomas Mundy Peterson Park is an example of how, when everyone involved works together, we can create something wonderful for our residents to enjoy. I know that I, and the entire Board of County Commissioners, look forward to seeing this park being used and enjoyed by the people of Middlesex County,” said Board of County Commissioners Director Ronald G. Rios. “The Thomas Mundy Peterson Park is not only a wonderful outdoor space for County residents to enjoy but is our way of paying a fitting tribute to a man that dedicated his life to serving the people and engaging civically in so many ways.”
Thomas Mundy Peterson Park’s name was chosen to honor Thomas Mundy Peterson, a resident of the City of Perth Amboy and the first African American to vote in the United States after the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted African American men the right to vote.
“The Thomas Mundy Peterson Park is the result of hard work on the part of the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners and the City of Perth Amboy who work tirelessly to enhance the quality of life for our residents,” said Perth Amboy Mayor Helmin J. Caba. “This effort was many years in the making and represents more than just a park — it’s a community gathering space that honors a Perth Amboy citizen who played an important role in the history of our country. We look forward to seeing all the enjoyment and education this park will bring to this and future generations.”
The new park located in Perth Amboy at High Street between Washington St. & Buckingham Ave. includes a synthetic-turf, multi-use field that can host soccer or football, a synthetic turf field that is adjustable for softball and baseball, a waterfront walkway with views of the Arthur Kill, interpretive signs exploring the history of the site and river and park benches. In addition, it will also offer a convenient parking lot and comfort stations for visitors.
Thomas Mundy Peterson Park was created with funding provided via a grant from the Middlesex County Open Space Recreation and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, which covered the acquisition of the land and construction of the park, and with substantial support from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
Funding from the NJDEP included $2.5 million from the Green Acres Program toward recreational improvements such as the baseball fields, walkways, and comfort stations, and $1.35 million from the Office of Natural Resource Restoration (ONRR) to improve public access to the Newark Bay/Arthur Kill Complex. Significant funding, support, and coordination were also provided by the NJDEP Office of Brownfield and Community of Revitalization (OBCR) through their Community Collaborative Initiative because Thomas Mundy Peterson Park is located in a designated brownfield area that has been identified as an area in need of development. Funding included grants in the amount of $4.1 million and $2.7 million awarded through the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (HDSRF) and administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. An additional $1.3 million is pending. To date, more than $8 million has been invested in the project by the OBCR through the HDSRF.
Thomas Mundy Peterson Park is a collaborative effort between Middlesex County and the City of Perth Amboy. The County will provide management and maintenance of the park, while the City of Perth Amboy will handle matters related to enforcement and public safety.