Statement from Mayor Moench Regarding Issues at Washington Valley Park
“Yesterday, I, along with members of my Administration and Police Department, met with representatives from the Somerset County Parks Commission and Somerset County Parks Board, to discuss resident concerns regarding use of Washington Valley Park.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Township has noticed a drastic increase in the parks use which has led to parking issues on the surrounding Township roads and an uptick of criminal behavior within the park itself. The Township and the Police Department have been working diligently to allay the parking concerns by way of several measures but most notably, increased enforcement.
“Spurred by the increase in illegal behavior within the park, the Somerset County Park Commission and Board started looking into ways to curb these activities and limit the liability from non-authorized use of the waterways in the park. They were initially looking to, at a public Board meeting, restricting trail access around waterways to ease the enforcement of illegal activities. This has garnered a strong reaction from County residents who do not want their park access restricted.
“After meeting with the representatives today, it appears that that planned action will be put on hold as the Parks will engage the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office to be deployed in the parks to increase enforcement and act as a deterrent to bad actors. I stand with the many concerned residents of Bridgewater and Somerset County who should not have their park access diminished because some people choose not to follow the rules. All other options must be exhausted.
“While we are blessed as a County and Township to have access to such beautiful parks and trails, we must use them responsibly. We as a Township stand ready to assist the County in their continued effort to make the park fun and safe for the residents of Somerset County. “