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Nov 05, 2019

Fair Haven Dedicates New Williams, Albert and Robards Park

By Lori Draz

On a picture-perfect Oct. 15 at 5:30 pm, The Borough of Fair Haven officially opened the Williams, Albert and Robards Park. The park, located at the end of De Normandie Avenue, offers visitors a tranquil, manicured grass area and a beach area with unobstructed views of the glorious Navesink River.

From left: Fair Haven Special Projects Manager DJ Breckenridge, Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande, Councilwoman Betsy Koch, Councilman Chris Rodriguez, Councilwoman Susan Sorensen, Freeholder Gerry Scharfenberger, Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli, Freeholder Susan Kiley, Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso and Councilwoman Jacqui Rice.

Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli was joined many Fair Haven residents, police officers and government officials including Fair Haven Council, Freeholders Gerry Scharfenberger and Susan Kiley, and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso.

Lucarelli was clearly moved by the history of this park, one of 10 now in Fair Haven. The picturesque park once was the site of a home built in 1853 by Charles Williams, a free black man. Lucarelli read the entrance plaque saying, “Land for the home was a wedding gift from the owner of the Rohallion Estates to Williams and his wife Julia; Williams maintained the estate’s horses. Charles and Julie Williams lived in the home for the rest of their lives. Their descendants – the Williams, Albert and Robards families – used the house as a home and gathering place. The home was updated in the 1950s, although the historic structure was left intact.

“Throughout their ownership, the family always allowed the public to use the beach on the property. In that spirit this land is preserved and protected to allow free and open access to the beautiful Navesink River for all time.”

Lucarelli said Williams, Albert and Robards Park is a “passive park that allows for folks to relax and enjoy the magnificent views of the Navesink River.” Lucarelli also noted there are four stone benches overlooking the river, beside a quarry dust trail.

The site originally was purchased in 2015 for $1.2 million with a combination of funding and support from NJDEP Green Acres/Blue Acres Grant ($655,000); Monmouth County Open Space Trust Fund Grant ($250,000); Monmouth Conservation Foundation ($150,000) with the remaining balance provided by capital funds from the Borough of Fair Haven.