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NJ County Parks Make Slow Comeback After Sandy [AUDIO]

While boardwalks and beaches made a seemingly miraculous comeback from Superstorm Sandy, progress has been slow in restoring some of Ocean County’s parks.

Ocean County Park
Ocean County Park (Photo Courtesy of Ocean County Parks and Recreation)

Freeholder John Bartlett said repairing damage to all of its parks wasn’t at the top of its priority list, with the exception of Ocean County Park in Lakewood, where five thousand downed trees posed a public danger. However, Berkeley Island Park in Berkeley Township, remains closed after storm surge flooding carved into the narrow scenic recreation area that protrudes into the Barnegat Bay.

“The fishing pier is gone. The armor mat, some of those plates, they need to be reset. All of our buildings there, they need to be replaced,” said Bartlett.  He also added that the storm surge flooding carved into the parking lot leaving gullies and sinkholes. The walking path was also destroyed.

Bartlett said another reason it’s taken them nearly a year to begin work at Berkeley Island Park is to see what other kind of funds could be accessed. He said they were successful in getting Federal Emergency Management Funding and state funding to make repairs. “I think it’s called the Living Landscape.   It’s going to be designed by Stevens Institute of Technology. We’ve received a grant from the state for Stevens to do this.”

Bartlett said he expects the 30-year-old Berkeley Island Park to be reopened in 2014 and be better than it was before the storm. “We will restore the fishing pier, so there will be fishing and crabbing, there will be a kids play area and we will put a number of gazebos through out the park.”

Cattus Island Park in Toms River also sustained major damage from storm surge flooding that gutted the visitors center. The park opened this summer to visitors, but the visitors center remains closed with no timetable yet for its reopening.

He said they were also able to reopen the Ocean County Park this summer after hiring Ashbritt to remove thousands trees.

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