fh-williams-house2The longtime Williams family estate, seen looking north on DeNormandie Avenue toward the river.

As expected, the borough of Fair Haven took a big step toward the water last night, approving the purchase of private property for what is envisioned as a small riverfront park, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

By a vote of 5-0, the borough council approved the issuance of bonds to cover the $1.2 million cost of buying a two-thirds-of-an-acre lot at the Navesink end of DeNormandie Avenue. Councilman Jerome Koch, who had voiced reservations about aspects of the plan, was absent, the Press reports.

The property is the site of a circa 1855 house built by a free African-American, Charles Williams. It has remained in the hands of his descendants to this day. The borough plans to raze the house, with officials contending that restoring it or moving would be prohibitively expensive.

From the article:

The council also approved a resolution restricting uses on the proposed park to address neighbors’ concerns about parking and traffic on the narrow street.

The resolution prohibits structures such as bathrooms or storage buildings, prohibits storing boats or other items there overnight, and bans using the passive park for sports or group entertainment events…

Some residents still brought up concerns about the financing and its effect on taxes. Borough Administrator Mary E. Howell said that the owner of the average home assessed at $548,000 would see a $15 increase in their annual municipal-purposes tax bill.

The town still has to negotiate a final contract with the seller, the sons of Winifred Julia Decatur Robards, who died in 2008 at the age of 92.