by Nick Lenczyk
The center of Fair Haven is the last of the open space in town. Within its area are trees, ponds, and multipurpose fields often used by Fair Haven Recreation and the neighboring town Rumson’s high school sports teams.
Purchased in 1972 with Green Acres funds, the old Lovett’s nursery was set aside for protection from development that has been spreading since the Second World War. Thirty-eight acres were set aside for woods, thirty-nine for fields, and two acres for the borough’s Compost Site at the end of Hendrickson and William Streets.
In recent years many upgrades have taken place. In 2007, Phase One brought a new playground, drainage system and paved parking lot along with more pedestrian sidewalks. Landscaping also took place along Dartmouth Avenue in 2007. Most recently, Phase Two has begun of the Fair Haven Fields improvements.
In 2010, Fair Haven began its newest improvements which again focused on problematic drainage, more multipurpose fields, and an additional baseball field which should keep wear and tear a minimum to existing fields. DPW crews have worked on tearing down trees and leveling ground to minimize costs for the project that has received multiple grants. This Phase is expected to be finished by June 2011.
Rumson-Fair Haven High School students along with Fair Haven sports teams use the fields to play soccer, lacrosse, tennis, baseball, softball, field hockey, and many other sports. This will come as a huge improvement to them allowing more teams to play at less demanding hours.
The big problem in the past has been field scheduling and this is something the town hopes to change. Tournaments such as soccer and baseball will benefit the area and its athletes, and not only that each field will have more space to maneuver as well allowing more spectators. Although the high school students and others are not actively involved in the project, the committee for the fields includes many parents and long-time residents.
As the years progressed more sports have become popular which explains why it seems busier in the sports world. Everyone in the Two River area will ultimately have and make use of the fun-filled Fair Haven Fields. Even the cross country runners will have some additional mileage to run. When Phase two is completed, the next generation of sports players and locals can enjoy another round of fun at the improved park in the center of town.
The fields are not the only part of the park featuring improvements. The Nature Trails, east of the fields, features many animals ranging from a family of deer to birds, to animals such as chipmunks and turkeys. Over the past four years the town has been forced to help save the woods. An “alien” species known as the Asian Bittersweet vines has taken over a great portion of the old nursery. These invasive vines have wrapped around many trees, killing and knocking them down to the forest floor. Public Works crews, as well as the Fair Haven Fields Committee, have worked countless hours to try to kill and remove all the vines they can. Replanting has taken place multiple times and the project continues to progress due to the extent of the damage.
When the land was originally set aside as park, it was done so in a way that people would have as little impact as possible on the life and looks of the area. They have no choice now but to act to save what’s left of the old Lovett’s nursery which also embeds in Meadow Ridge Park across the street in Rumson. Currently the Fair Haven Fields Committee plans to plant additional trees this spring as well as continue to remove dead limbs and branches.
Fair Haven Fields is not only a beautiful place, but a historical part of Fair Haven. The pond, named Derry Bennett’s Pond in 2009 and located in the center of the woods, use to be the old irrigation ditch. The name comes from a long time resident and member of the Environmental Committee who spent countless hours of his life protecting the multiple acres as well as teaching the value of such a place to other residents. If people look closely, they can even see some of the old service roads that go along the long lines of trees. Most notably the pine and holly trees located in a line just south of the new cell tower show evidence of human plantings long long ago now.
The Compost Site for the current day borough was even an old nursery yard used to hold mulch and woodchips. The Gentry and Brookside Farm Road off of Fair Haven Road were also at one time part of the vast area of land that was a birth place to multiple species of plants.
Fair Haven Fields teaches the children the importance of nature as well as athletic health. Kids, teens, and even adults visit it on a daily basis. High School, Middle School, residents and friends continue to use the park and make it better for decades to come. The way to start is as a child and once a child sees an importance in such a beautiful place he or she will protect it for lifetimes to come.