Thu Oct 28 2021 16:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Construction of Regional Park Manchester Township

With bustling traffic and residences nearby, Ocean County's plan to construct a regional park on a 250 acre site in Manchester Township may be just what residents and visitors could use to step away from the day to day and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

The Ocean County Board of Commissioners is moving ahead with the park plans and will soon be applying for the necessary permits.

"We are getting ready to make application for the necessary permits from the Pinelands Commission and also the state Department of Environmental Protection," said Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, Chairwoman of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. "While this undertaking will take some time, this regional park will meet the needs of the residents of Manchester Township and those living nearby."

A new sign recently erected at the park site on Route 571 announces the regional park project.

"Manchester Township, in cooperation with the County of Ocean, is thrilled to announce that the county is moving forward with their plans for our newest park located near County Route 571 and Ridgeway Boulevard," said Manchester Township Mayor Robert Hudak. "This roughly 215 acre parcel, will now be preserved for both active and passive recreational activities.

"Plans include a comfort station, flag area, picnic pavilions, water fountains, playground, pickle ball court, and other athletic fields," he said. "As Mayor, my administration is committed to continuing these efforts throughout the township because it is imperative that we preserve our existing open spaces and I look forward to partnering with the County on future projects that we have earmarked."

Manchester Township donated about 215 acres from the township along with the County purchasing about 12 acres from the township for the park project. The County also purchased another 23 acres that was in private ownership.

The park site – which totals about 250 acres - is bordered by Routes 571 and 547 and the railroad.

"Partnerships like this one are what help in our efforts to bring access to open space and recreational opportunities to all of our residents," said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn. "We are all stakeholders in this project and we all take pride in providing premiere parks for the people that call Ocean County home. Working together, this will bring a lot of recreational and environmental benefits to the area."

Because Ridgeway Boulevard bisects the land, Ocean County will use the unique geography to provide a side dedicated to active recreation and a separate more passive setting. The total developable area is about 121 acres with remaining acreage mostly wetlands and buffer area.

This park will be built in two phases with the first phase focusing on the infrastructure and passive recreation.

"Ocean County has always made an effort to fit the use of the land when building parks," Haines said. "The use of the site ultimately is driven by what will be allowed by any environmental restrictions.

"The list of proposed amenities is lengthy and should offer something for everyone," she said.

Haines noted the County will locate its second spray park at the Manchester site. The first is at the John C. Bartlett Jr. County Park at Berkeley Island. The popular feature provides a place for children to access water features in the park during warm weather. Children also can enjoy the playground that will be included as part of the project.

"With this park, the county will now operate a park in reasonable commuting distance for all residents," Haines said. "We look forward to moving this forward and reaching this goal."