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East Millstone Park Renamed For Robert Mettler

The late Robert Mettler, a former Township Councilman and township historian, will be honored by having a park named after him.

Mettler, who died on March 9, 2020, lived in the East Millstone section of Franklin. A suggestion by Councilman Charles Onyejiaka (D-Ward 3) at the May 11 Council meeting resulted in the Council changing the name of East Millstone Park to Robert Mettler Park.

Mettler served on the Council at various times during the late 1970s through the 2000s, and was a member of various boards and commissions, including the Historic Preservation Advisory Board, the Planning Board and the township’s Redevelopment Agency.

Mettler was also considered the township historian, being an East Millstone resident whose family lineage extends back to Franklin’s earliest days.

“Bob Mettler was a fine gentleman, a kind and intelligent person,” Onyejiaka said. All his life worked very hard for Franklin. He was genuinely concerned about Franklin.”

The motion to rename the park was seconded by Deputy Mayor James Vassanella.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year now, a little longer, that he’s been gone,” Vassanella said.

Mayor Philip Kramer said the usual protocol in naming a park could be relaxed in this instance.

“The usual protocol is for it to go to the administrative committee,” Kramer said. “Maybe we can bypass that, basically because it’s Mr. Mettler. If you don’t understand what that means, then you don’t know who Mr. Mettler was.”

“He certainly was a giant among men,” Kramer said.

“This is really a no-brainer,” said Councilman Ted Chase (D-Ward 1). It’s good that we have a park right in East Millstone to name for him.”

“I served with Bob Mettler on the redevelopment agency,” Councilwoman Kimberly Francois (D-At Large) said. “He added so much insight and so much depth and passion to that agency … he was so knowledgeable, and I think this is a wonderful thing we are doing for him.”

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker said some rehabilitation work is scheduled to be done at the park, which was the staging point for the recently completed D&R Canal dredging, after which there would be a formal renaming ceremony.

Vornlocker said a $1.1 million capital ordinance the Council was set to approve that night “calls for a new playground to be installed in what will be Robert Mettler Park. Will have a conversation with (Director of Parks and Recreation) Beau Byrtus so that we can have a dedication ceremony once all the improvements are taken care of over the next two months.”

The ordinance will also pay for other improvements to parks throughout the township.

“The basketball court, which was the staging area, will be resurfaced on May 26, and immediately following, the seeding and grading of the areas around the basketball court will be replaced and we will isolate those areas of the park to allow the grass to grow,” he said. “I would anticipate the first week in June we will be pretty much back in action.”

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