Ballaro: Investigating unknowns of Deiner Park


Opinion Column: Thoughts from the LX

“What is Deiner Park?”

“We have a Deiner Park?” 

“Wait, how do you say it? Deener or Diner?”

Well, as it turns out, it is in fact pronounced “diner,” like the classic New Jersey staple. I was standing in the middle of the LX bus, tightly gripping the iron pole, when I heard two first-years talking about Deiner Park.

“Deiner Park was one of the state's more recent attempts to integrate Rutgers-College Avenue with the (Raritan) River,” according to New Brunswick Today. Just what is that supposed to mean, exactly?

One day I missed the LX bus at the last College Avenue stop before Livingston campus, the one by the Student Activities Center. I could not be bothered to go to my geography class that day, so it was an opportune time for some hands-on investigation. 

I turned past the stop, toward the Raritan River, and set my eyes on Deiner Park. 

It is a concrete rectangle less than a third of a mile, adorned with grass and gazebos. There are basketball courts that fill with puddles when it rains. There are tennis courts too, just do not overdo your forehand, otherwise you will be down 15-love, Raritan River. The perimeter of the park is surrounded with a tall metal chain-link fence, but it looks more like a cage to me. The fence curves over toward you like a big "C." Deiner Park hovers over Route 1, the fence is there so you do not fall. If you peer down, you can see rush hour swarming by. 

If Deiner Park is vanilla in a Neapolitan ice cream, Route 1 is the chocolate before the strawberry that is the Raritan River. Although, I guess the river is more chocolate than strawberry. If you have a good eye, you can barely make out a concrete walking path that surrounds the river. There is a bridge in the middle of the park that skips over Route 1 and lets you down on the little path. It is wonderful, College Ave is connected straight to the Raritan River! 

Well, except for the padlock on the fence door that closes off that bridge. Do not think about trying to jump it, because if the 20-foot drop onto asphalt does not bust your kneecaps, an F bus that is late for Cook campus will. If you want to get down to the spot where the bridge ends, it is only a hop, skip and jump around College Avenue. And by that I mean a convoluted path that you will have to jump the highway twice, and swoop under the overpass. 

Make sure you run fast for that second high pass, because no one can see you jump out from the path. Do not worry though, it is just a one-way, so no need for left-right-left. Now it is just 10 minutes on the beautiful graffiti-decorated path back over to the spot on the other side of Deiner Park's bridge. Just make sure you bring a friend, because if something happens, your only escape routes are Route 1 or diving into the Raritan River, and honestly Route 1 is the safer option.

For a park supposedly designed to connect College Avenue to the Raritan River, it was doing a very poor job.

Why was Deiner Park here? Why was there a padlock? How did I know it was pronounced like diner? And would you believe me if I told you this all had to do with Johnson & Johnson? The answers to all these questions were waiting for me in the basement of Alexander Library in special collections. 

But that will have to wait for another week. In the meantime, if the LX bus at the Student Activities Center is too crowded, Deiner Park is a rather nice walk and the perfect place to watch the horizon melt at sunset.

Anthony Ballaro is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in Classics and Public Health. His column, "Thoughts from the LX," runs alternate Fridays.

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