BERKELEY – Township officials are looking at making improvements to several recreational facilities in the area, but first are waiting on grant money and state approvals for the larger projects.
The township wants to use 31.9 acres of vacant land at the Eastern Boulevard Soccer Complex to make three new soccer fields, three softball fields, a roller hockey rink, and three parking lots.
Mayor Carmen Amato said that the State Department of Environmental Protection permit applied to by the previous administration has expired so now they have to go through the process again.
“All of our youth leagues have expanded, especially because of the pandemic,” he said. The grant funding would also improve drainage.
The township is also applying for a $125,000 grant from the State Department of Community Affairs to create a walking and biking path at Veterans Park.
Amato said that between the summer concerts and other events, about 100,000 people go through that park a year.
They recently installed pickleball courts and a pump track. The concession stand and restroom facility is being finished.
In related news, there are two dog parks that have been in development for some time now.
One dog park is planned for .9 acres of vacant land on Butler Boulevard. It would also include a 24-spot parking lot.
Councilman James Byrnes said that the DEP required an archaeological study of that site to make sure it was clean. This was a thorn in his side because they had already cleaned up this previous sewer plant land and the DEP had already approved it.
The town will also be adding a dog park to Whispering Pines Park.
At a recent Township Council meeting, resident Bob Darnley asked about the Whispering Pines dog park, since it’s going to be about 200 feet from his property. He was worried about flies, contamination of the soil, and the smell in the summer.
“We can put up a stockade fence,” Amato said. He noted that people already walk their dogs in that area; the dog park would make it official and would limit the location. Township staff would be there every day to clean up.
“We think it will be a better situation than what’s there now,” he said.
“Believe me, we’re good neighbors,” Byrnes said.
Darnley then turned to his wife and asked if this means he can get a dog now.