OCEAN COUNTY – Add three more to the roster of county parks that are open for passive recreation.
On May 14, these parks will be opened to the public: Enos Pond County Park in Lacey, Mill Creek County Park in Berkeley, and Lochiel Creek County Park in Barnegat.
“As we continue to follow our plan to gradually reopen all 27 of our County parks, I again want to stress these parks are being reopened for passive recreation only – walking, jogging, hiking, running and similar activities,” said Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, Chairwoman of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. “Park visitors must maintain social distancing and adhere to the other requirements set in place for the safety of the public and our County staff.”
These three are added to the total list of parks that are now open for passive recreation: Cattus Island County Park, Toms River Township, Cloverdale County Park, Barnegat Township, Tip Seaman County Park, Tuckerton, Wells Mills County Park, Waretown, John C. Bartlett Jr. County Park at Berkeley Island, Jakes Branch County Park, Beachwood, Ocean County Park and Lake Shenandoah County Park, both in Lakewood, Patriots County Park, Jackson Township, and Freedom Fields, Little Egg Harbor Township.
The county has also opened the Barnegat Branch Trail and its natural land sites.
“Our playgrounds, public bathrooms, nature centers, and pavilions will remain closed to the public as will the dog parks and some other smaller parks,” Haines said. “As per the Governor’s executive order there cannot be any large gatherings, no sporting events, picnics or barbecues allowed at this time.”
The state has required that parking at these parks be capped at 50 percent to control the amount of people going in. County officials said people shouldn’t park on nearby streets or grass to get around that. It defeats the purpose of the social distancing.
The Ocean County Sheriff’s Office and Ocean County Security Department will be patrolling the county facilities.
Face coverings should be worn, even at the park, officials said. The parks that have been reopened are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
“We encourage everyone to adhere to the requirements we have put in place to reopen the parks,” she said. “In time we look forward to reopening all of our parks.”
They were all closed on March 31 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I believe it’s important to again emphasize that reopening our parks in no way means the coronavirus pandemic is over,” Haines said. “And while we want to provide safe and large open spaces for our residents to spend time outside, especially with warm weather coming, we also want to urge everyone that they need to be mindful of themselves and their neighbors and continue to take precautions at this time including social distancing, washing your hands, wearing face masks and staying home if you are sick.”
“We want everyone to enjoy our parks and natural lands safely,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “The health and safety of our residents and visitors is paramount. It’s important that we continue to follow social distancing rules. We all need to remember that our actions don’t affect just us, they affect our family, they affect our health care workers, they affect our emergency responders, they affect the workers at our grocery stores.”
“We need to all continue to do our part to stop the spread of this virus,” Vicari said.
There are a few sports that have reopened as well.
Golfing is available at the two county courses: the Ocean County Golf Course at Atlantis, in Little Egg Harbor Township and Forge Pond County Golf Course in Brick Township.
These courses can only be used through a prepaid reservation, Haines said. No groups larger than two will be allowed.
“If you want a tee time you need to make a reservation,” Haines said.
Golf course hours are from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Singles tennis and pickleball is allowed at Ocean County Park, Lakewood, Jakes Branch County Park, Beachwood and Tip Seaman County Park, Tuckerton.