10.3 Acres designated for recreational needs
By Howard Prosnitz, Staff Writer
Teaneck Suburbanite, July 30, 2008, p. 2
Of Teaneck's three riverside parks, Terhune Park is the most diverse.
While Brett and Andreas parks have woods, wildflowers and wetlands, as well as scenic views of the Hackensack River, they are essentially passive areas, designed for walking and contemplating nature. (Andreas Park also includes a tennis court and playground.) Terhune Park, in contrast, is equipped to serve both active and passive recreational needs of residents.
Within its 10.3 acres, Terhune contains baseball/softball field, soccer field, playground, picnic area, tennis courts and a stand of trees. Although the tennis courts are in poor condition and have been closed for several years, money was recently allocated from the MOST (Municipal Open Space Trust) funds for their repair.
The Hackensack River Greenway was first established at Terhune Park and the park is the site of Greenway's southernmost segment.
Ingrid Scanlon, who grew up near Terhune Park and recently moved back to the neighborhood, recalls the importance of the park to her when she was growing up.
"It was a big part of my life," Scanlon said. "After I married, my husband and I decided to return to Teaneck and a major part of that decision was because of Teaneck's substantial park system."
Scanlon recalls flying kites in the park's open area, which comprises about two thirds of the total land. The breezes from the Hackensack River and the absense of trees make it an ideal kite flying location.
Although a softball/baseball field occupies part of the open space, the rest is undersignated and undivided.
"It is a great play area," Scanlon said. "What is so nice about it is that there are no boundary lines, so that kids can play all sorts of pickup games, like football and whiffle ball."
Scanlon recalls sleign riding down a snow-covered hill at the northern end of the park, which, she said, is one of the township's safest and most enjoyable sleign riding hills.
Although Teaneck no longer sponsors its own fireworks display, on July 4 residents carry chairs to Terhune's open space, from which they enjoy an excellent view of Hackensack's fireworks.
The park is named after the Terhune family, one of Bergen County's original Dutch settlers, who donated the land to the township in 1948. Until then, the Terhune homestead stood on the site. According to George Reskakis, chair of the township's parks playgrounds and recreation advisory board, pieces of the stone foundation of the Terhune homestead are still visible in the park.
The Terhune family had the distinction of owning the property listed on old Teaneck tax roles as block one, lot one. The family held deeds to River Road frontage for more than 200 years, according to a 1946 article by then Teaneck planning board chair A. Thorton Bishop.
A stand of mature trees, including elm, catalpa and beech, that once shaded the Terhune homestead, grows in the northern end of the park. The land there slopes west to the river, where the remains of a sandy beach are still visible at low tide.
In 1998 residents of Lynn Court in Bogota protested a letter they had received from the township prohibiting them from mowing a previously neglected area of the park that adjoined their backyards. The latter established Teaneck's first no-mow zone, the beginning of the Hackensack River Greenway. Formal ground breaking for the Greenway took place on April 26, 1998. With some interruptions the Greenway runs along the Hackensack River for the entire length of Teaneck, from Terhune Park at the southern end to Brett Park in the north.
The first segment of the Greenway ends at the northern boundary of Terhune Park. The trail resumes again at Pomander Walk.
Township environmental groups have urged the council to attempt to acquire a 75 x 300 foot parcel between the two sections. The property is owned by Jehovah's Witnesses, which unsuccessfully sought variances from the board of adjustment last year to build in Kingdom Hall on the site.
18 Different species of trees in one park -- By Howard Prosnitz, Teaneck Suburbanite, August, 6, 2008