DONALDSON PARK
Riverview Avenue, Highland Park Borough, Middlesex County, NJ
90 acres


Directions:

Take Route 27 into Highland Park and turn south onto South Second Avenue.  After four blocks it leads into the park.

The park entrance is on Riverview Avenue at South 2nd Avenue.  


Habitats:

Raritan River


Facilities:

soccer, ball fields, basketball court, playground, boat ramp, tennis court, BBQ grills and picnic tables

school field trips to river and marsh and lake

Middlesex County plans to add a pavilion, restroom, parking, and native plantings near the southeast corner. 

At the eastern end of the park are gardens with the sign "The Good Earth. Urban Community Garden. Cooperative Extension Service of Rutgers."


Future Plans:

There have been discussions of more land acquisitions/improvements in the area:

West of Donaldson. Middlesex County may purchase Red's Marina and the adjacent freshwater marsh as an "Ayres Beach Natural Area" (named for its historic swimming beach).

Upstream of Donaldson.  Valley Place Ravine is public Green Acres property that could have simple seats and signage for casual environmental education and walks to the river.

East of Donaldson. The county has received two grants (for a biological survey, trail, educational signage, and perhaps council ring) for the woods, meadow, streams, and tidal marsh east of Donaldson Park. ("The Meadows" is the historic name.) The adjacent Southside Bikeway provides native plantings and environmental signage and it provides access to The Meadows and the municipal part of Buck's Woods.  

(Source: Arnold Henderson, "Environmental Education Centers For the Highland Park Greenway," http://www.leoraw.com/hpenv/info/env_educ_ctrs.htm)


Trails:

3/30/2005.  Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar and I toured around the area in the car.  It is mostly lawn with all sorts of recreational facilities.  On the western edge there is a Phragmites marsh on the other side of which is Ayre's Beach.  The area is pretty because it is very flat with a background of raised ground.  The land lies along the northern bank of the Raritan River and across the river are some beautiful reddish-brown shale cliffs.  On the eastern side of the park is a very short asphalt bike path that goes through the Meadows area.  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plant blooming on date of field trip, 3/30/2005


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple) *
Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Salix alba var. (weeping willow)
Salix discolor type (pussy willow type)

Grasses:
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)