A new public county park planned for Manchester Township
Plans for a new park head to Manchester Township where hiking trails and playing fields will give Ocean County residents another area to play ball or enjoy nature.
Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director John C. Bartlett Jr. presented the plans for the park to Manchester Township's Mayor and Council on March 26.
"The last hole in the County park system was Manchester Township. When I first became a freeholder I set a goal to put a county park in a reasonable commuting distance for all of our residents," Bartlett said in a release. "This is an area that will now have a regional park that can be enjoyed by Manchester residents and those in nearby communities."
247 acres of the project are owned by Manchester Township and 13 are privately held.
Route 571, 547 and the railroad border the property.
The project cannot happen without council approval and Bartlett has been talking to Mayor Kenneth T. Palmer about the project.
"Working together, this will bring a lot of recreational and environmental benefits to the area," Bartlett said.
"This will benefit our residents and the entire region. It is something we have been asking for and something we have been hoping for," Palmer said.
Ultimately, it is probable that the park will consist of two separate areas as Ridgeway Road divides the property.
One area will be a recreation area including walking, interpretive trails and a picnic area while the other will consist of playing fields.
Bartlett says this will be the first new county park built in numerous years.
The county has been rebuilding and renovating park sites that suffered damage due to Superstorm Sandy back in 2012.
"The great recession and Superstorm Sandy resulted in a loss of 20 percent of the county tax base," Bartlett said. "As we are now recovering the tax base and as the parks' rebuilding nears completion, we now can dedicate our full effort to building a park in Manchester Township."
"This will be a first class park," Township Council President Craig Wallis said. "This will be a very good thing for the township."
"This will be a win-win situation for the county and the township,"Councilman Charles Frattini said.
This comes over a year after the groundbreaking at Berkeley Island County Park that had been significantly damaged by Sandy.