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* This article first appeared in The Times Herald-Record on May 8, 2001. Used by permission.



Maple Hill Park May Get Bigger

By Jay Stapleton
The Times Herald-Record

Middletown A partnership to add at least seven acres of parkland to the outskirts of the city near County Route 78 is being reviewed by city, county and Town of Wallkill officials, Orange County Legislator Jeff Berkman announced yesterday.

At a press conference held at Maple Hill Park on California Avenue, Berkman and fellow county legislators Edward Diana and Thomas Pahucki said they would like to see the county convey 7.5 acres of surplus land to the neighboring municipalities of Wallkill and Middletown for park expansion.

The property is part of about 38 acres of county-owned land along County Route 78 some of it right across the street from the 18-acre, city-owned Maple Hill Park all near the town-city border. Although Berkman would like to see all of the property made into parkland, he said for now, the smaller piece is a start.
"I'm a big supporter of parks," said

Berkman, who would like to see what he calls a more "fair" distribution of county park money and land to include areas such as Middletown, Port Jervis and Newburgh.

Right now, those areas get no county park money, Berkman said. A new grant obtained this year will provide $500,000 for municipal parkland throughout the county. Some of that money could be used to convert the land off California Avenue to picnic areas and trails, Berkman said.

Wallkill, Middletown or both in partnership would have to come up with money beyond what the county would pay.

The county obtained the property in 1972. Part of the land was intended for use by Orange County Community College for off-campus parking or athletic fields. Those plans never materialized.

Wallkill Supervisor Tom Nosworthy said the town would have to consider its plans for the strip of County Route 78, which is expected to be commercialized in the future. "It will have to be reviewed," Nosworthy said.

"I think it's a good move," said Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano, who is ready to work with the county on acquiring the land, with or without the cooperation of Wallkill.

All agreed a collaborative effort is desired. "It seems reasonable," said DeStefano. "We would want to pursue it together."


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