With hundreds of residents on hand, Ridgewood's new 'jewel' of a park opened to the public Sunday afternoon.
Boasting walking trails, multiple sports fields, a playground and a picturesque bridge overlooking a tranquil pond, Habernickel Family Park is poised to become a true treasure in the village, according to Ridgewood Parks & Recreation Director Tim Cronin.
"What originally attracted me [to Habernickel] is that it had something for everybody," Cronin said. "It had such a variety of elements for everybody."
Residents got a taste of the West Side park on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon for its grand opening.
Children shuffled around carrying small pumpkins, the air was filled with live music and village residents Doug Goodell and Jim Wright signed their photography book "Ducks Enough to Fly." There were also scavenger hunts and wildscape walks on the trails following the ribbon cutting.
Originally purchased in 2004 for roughly $7.4 million, the 10-acre former horse farm at 1037 Hillcrest Road looks considerably different than many Ridgewood old-timers might remember. Where horses once roamed and children ice skated, kites fly and soccer balls roll through grass.
A 60-foot Little League diamond should mitigate some of the stress of Ridgewood's field crunch. There is also a 100-yard multipurpose field for soccer and lacrosse. Additionally, the handicap-accessible playground can be built up further. There's also half-mile walking path for residents and wilscape trails a local Eagle Scout is working on.
There may be outdoor science classes at Habernickel in the future, Cronin said.
The park should also be a hit for the Willard School area on Ridgewood's West Side, a neighborhood that lacks much in the way of recreation space.
"I'm excited because look how happy this place is – it's a community, it's the essence of a community!" said an enthused Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck, a 3rd generation Habernickel who spent much of her youth at the horse farm.
"Everyone benefits from open space, whether it's just driving by and appreciating it...this is a peaceful space and it's kind of what we miss in busy Bergen County."
Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.