Preserve Renaming, New East Millstone Park Signs Discussed By Open Space Committee

NEW SIGNS COMING – The Open Space Advisory Committee discussed new signs for Naruta Park, pictured here, and was asked to consider renaming the Negri-Nepote Grasslands Preserve to honor two deceased township residents.

The renaming of the Negri-Nepote Grassland Preserve and new signs for what will be Mettler and Naruta Park was discussed at a recent meeting of the Open Space Advisory Committee.

Committee members discussed the signs for what will be the new Mettler and Naruta Park – the East Millstone pocket park named for the late Alex Naruta Bob Mettler – and changing the grasslands preserve to honor the late Melba Negri Battin, who was largely responsible for its creation.

Battin died at age 96 on January 27 in Falmouth, Mass.

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker, who first suggested the Committee contemplate the name change, noted that “Melba expressed her great love of that part of Franklin Township often, and that meant the world to her.”

Vornlocker noted that the former Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve was renamed after the late John Clyde after his death in 2019, in part because of his connection to the grassland.

“Certainly Melba has a connection to this property as well,” he said.

The Committee will discuss the proposal further at its March meeting.

Mayor Phil Kramer told the Committee that absent Committee member Bob LaCorte asked him about naming Naruta Park after Mettler.

Kramer said that a descendant of Naruta’s agreed to adding Mettler’s name to Naruta Park.

Alex Naruta was a member of the Board of Education and the Township Council. He died in 1989.

Bob Mettler, known as the township’s unofficial historian, was a longtime East Millstone resident whose family has deep roots in the township. He died in 2020.

The two men ran against each other for Township Council in the early 1970s.

Vornlocker said the East Millstone Historical Society is using money it received from the company that recently dredged the canal to create a new “Mettler-Naruta” park sign.

“The thought was to complement the main sign that says Mettler and Naruta Park, there would be a sign for Mr. Mettler and Mr. Naruta that gives a little bit of a biography on them,” he said.

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