Somerset County Park Commission was established in 1956, as a resource management agency designated to provide specialized park areas and facilities that supplement municipal efforts. The current mission of the park system now has a more defined focus that outlines the role to which the park system has been entrusted to improve the quality of life for Somerset County residents.
The Somerset County Park Commission is committed to excellence in promoting stewardship of land and resources, providing outstanding recreation opportunities and leisure services, and fostering an environment which is service oriented and responsive to public needs.
The park system is home to almost 15,000 acres of open space and well on its way to achieving its (proposed) new goal of creating a 24,000-acre network of park and open space facilities. Other than land acquisition, two other major goals are the development and use of regional scale public facilities and the continued creation and implementation of ongoing programs and special events.
Facilities now operated by the Park Commission include a wide range of opportunities for leisure pursuits. There are five golf courses, three driving ranges, a pitch and putt course, and a recreation putting course. Specialized facilities include a riding stable, an environmental education center, two tennis facilities, a swim club, and paddle boating. Horticulture activities include a rock formation and rare plant garden, an award-winning rose garden, arboretum, perennial garden and a sensory and fragrance garden. Six general use parks offer picnic facilities, bike paths, athletic fields, and fishing opportunities. The park system also encompasses several natural areas offering more passive pursuits such as bird watching and hiking. Visitations throughout the park system total more than two million annually.
The Park Commission has established a tradition of providing quality and unique programs. Therapeutic Recreation provides year-round activities and events for children and adults with disabilities, as well as a summer camp for children with learning or behavioral disabilities. Environmental Education offers programs focusing on local environmental issues, archeology, outdoor education, and bringing nature to children of all ages. Lessons and clinics are offered at many of the facilities, aimed at introducing people to a variety of recreation skills.
Many special events are also conducted by the Park Commission and attended by 70,000 people annually. The largest of these include the Summer Concert Series and the Fourth of July Family Festival. Twenty others are also held each year, each with its own distinctive focus, such as Project EARTH, Rose Day, Golf Tournaments, National Trails Day, and the 1770’s Festival. More specific information about the Park Commission may be found at www.somersetcountyparks.org.
When you support the Somerset County Park Foundation, you are making an investment in the quality of the life of the citizens of Somerset County to enjoy their parks and open spaces, promoting wellness through experiencing nature and the outdoors, and contributing to making a difference in improving programs and facilities offered to the community. We can’t do it without you!