March 11, 2008

Destination Union County-Through the Back Door

Beautiful - A Must See

Be sure to include this in Your Travel Itinerary

Though I have lived in Union County all of my life I never realized that I had grown up and than raised my own family in the middle of one of the East coast’s hottest tourist destinations, but apparently I have been wrong. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Union County and if weren’t for the state of New Jersey’s financial affairs and cost of living I would never even consider living elsewhere. But that is a story for another day.

I have many fond memories of Union County during what are considered to be kinder gentler times when the county was less developed and there were fewer restrictions on where we could go and what we could do.

My late father would take my sisters and me to Rahway Park on Sundays to feed the ducks on the lake and there would be miniature boat enthusiasts sailing their radio controlled watercraft. I learned how to ice skate on Mill Lake in Rahway, played tennis on the clay courts in Warnaico Park, went tobogganing at Galloping Hill, played miniature golf at O’Keefe's on St. Georges Ave. followed by hot dogs at Walt’s 42nd Street Bar and Grill. From Clark we would hop the #54 bus on Westfield Ave. and shop in downtown Rahway or Westfield and if we had a few more bucks go to Broad Street in Elizabeth. And though I am dating myself I admit to remembering the Wheatena Box water tower and the smell of the coffee roasting in Linden. As teenagers when we started to drive Sunday’s were spent in the Watchung Reservation exploring the trails or admittedly parking with my first husband on a Saturday night steaming up the cars windows in Echo Lake Park. Union County was farms and fields and plenty of open space and a good place to raise a family and I am still proud to say I am and will always be a Union County Gal.

Union County holds a proud place in our nation’s history with many revolutionary buildings, we have parks, challenging golf courses and quiet residential tree-lined streets, but we also have highways, oil refineries, manufacturing facilities and half of a major international airport within our boundaries as well as some wetlands that when the tide goes out are less than aromatically pleasing. So when the Board of Chosen Freeholders talks about attracting tourism to the county as a means to generate revenue I have to chuckle to myself. Click here to view the Freeholders press release regarding tourism in the county

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently spent $5,000 for a professional to study the county and prepare a report called the Union County Tourism Master Plan – “Defining Union County’s Tourism Industry”.

I must confess after reading the first 13 pages I was scratching my head in amazement that the board actually paid good money for this and found myself wondering why.

The report really didn’t contain anything new that couldn’t already be found on the county website and used figures for NJ tourism from 2006, which of course was before the economy tanked last year. The final pages of the report contained recommendations on steps to be taken to develop tourism into a revenue generating industry for Union County and truth be told it didn’t say anything that the average citizen couldn’t have come up with after a high school marketing course. My initial thought was – What a waste of taxpayer’s money and what do we have a county Department of Economic Development for if not to develop plans of this nature. And, if they aren’t capable of developing this light weight report than we have the wrong people working for us.

Click the link to review the 22 page report and decide for yourself if the $5,000 could have been put to a better use