BRICK – A mixed group of elected officials, township employees, local residents and others attended the official ribbon-cutting of Bernie Cooke Park on Thursday May 23 that took place during a break in afternoon thunderstorms.
The park is located behind the Wawa, near Parkway exchange 91 off Burnt Tavern Road.
Bernie Cooke Park now features a multi-purpose field for baseball/softball, a basketball court, two separate age-appropriate playgrounds, a walking/jogging path, a “trike path,” complete with road signs to teach toddlers the rules of the road, a gazebo, and the first concrete skatepark in the township.
The skatepark was designed and constructed by 5th Pocket Skateparks, who hosted an open skateboarding session by professional skaters after the ribbon-cutting.
Additionally, the scope of the work included lighting and electrical improvements, an irrigation system, and a security system.
The 6.5-acre park had become run down, with cracked asphalt, dated and dangerous playground equipment, broken basketball hoops, dead spots in grassy areas, and more.
The administration waited until nearby Parkway improvements were completed before beginning the park renovation. Precise Construction Inc. of Freehold won the bid to rebuild the park in the amount of $1,613,668. CME Associates designed the park and are serving as consulting engineers on the project.
“Besides Windward Beach, Traders Cove and the beaches, this is the largest park in our town,” said Mayor John G. Ducey during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Thank you to all the residents of neighboring Parkway Pines community – this is your neighborhood park. You’ve waited for this project for many, many years and you’ve shown considerable patience before the construction was underway.”
The renovated park is compliant and accessible in terms of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Ducey added.
The mayor thanked Daisy Troop 61843 who planted a butterfly garden at the park, and he thanked the township staff who worked on the project, including Township Engineer Elissa Commins, Department of Public Works/Parks Director Ken Mathis, Recreation Director Dan Santinello, and Jonathan Stanburger, a parks employee.
The cost of the upgrades to Bernie Cooke Park was partly funded by a Green Acres Grant. According to township grant writer Tara Paxton, a $1 million grant was awarded to offset the cost of improvements to the completed Birchwood Park, Bernie Cooke Park and to upcoming renovations to Bayside Park.
Bernie Cooke Park is the sixth township park to undergo renovations following the playgrounds at Windward Beach Park, Herbertsville Park (formerly Colorado Park), Lake Riviera Park, Angela Hibbard Park and Hank Waltonowski Park.
“This project is part of my ongoing commitment to make family life here in Brick better,” Ducey said.
“[The governing body] has made sure that our parks and recreation areas are in perfect condition and up to 2019 standards, and we wanted to ensure that all residents have access to our high-quality parks, our passive recreation opportunities,” he said. “We have something all over town.”
The next parks scheduled for renovation include waterfront Bayside Park across from Brick Beach 3 on the barrier island, and Cedar Bridge Manor Park.