His statewide approval ratings may be historically low, but Governor Chris Christie remains immensely popular with Republicans in his home county of Morris. So popular that Morris County officials today named a new road in his honor.
A new access thoroughfare to the county’s Central Park in Morris Plains and Parsippany will be known as “Governor Chris Christie Drive.”
Speaking at outdoor ceremonies before about 100 people on a cold, windy day, Christie thanked county officials and added, “This is also an indication you are starting to get old.” Christie is 55. Noting that he’s got 57 days left in his term, the governor said it’s tributes like this that make being governor such a great job.
Doug Cabana, the director of the all-Republican board of freeholders, noted that Christie, who lives in Mendham Township, is only the fourth governor from Morris County in state history. That’s a bit noteworthy, considering that the county has been around since 1739.
Cabana credited the Christie Administration for granting the county an easement to allow construction of the new road. The county’s Central Park developed on what had been the estimated 700-acre site of Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, a once-venerable institution dating back to the 1800s. Prior to Christie taking office, the state closed the main Greystone hospital and built a much smaller hospital. It also transferred excess land to the county for the park.
Today, Central Park is one of the Morris County Park Commission’s most popular attractions, offering various athletic fields, a dog park and jogging rails,. There were an estimated 453,000 visitors last year, according to the park commission.
The park conversion was not without controversy.
For years, historic preservationists had urged the state to preserve the original Greystone building, a hulking and foreboding structure that seemed right out of a 1940s-era movie. But the Christie Administration refused to stop a planned demolition.
The governor made special note of former county freeholder John Murphy, who was in attendance. Christie praised Murphy’s work over the years to make Central Park a reality. Murphy has a road in the complex named after him as well, but his sign is much smaller than the one presented to the governor.
As is the norm during upbeat ceremonies like the one today, past political battles tend to be forgotten about, at least publicly.
Still, there was rich political irony in Cabana praising Christie and the governor singling out Murphy for acclaim,
Back in 1997, Cabana and Murphy ran against then-Freeholder Christie in that year’s Republican primary, The campaign was so nasty that Christie filed suit over his opponents’ campaign ads. For the record, the suit was settled out of court and Christie lost the election.
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