BRICK – The next three township parks to be upgraded are the “Three B’s” ‑‑ Bernie Cook, Birchwood and Bayside. If everything goes as planned, the first of them could go out to bid by spring and be finished by late summer or early fall, said Director of Recreation Dan Santaniello.
The cost of refurbishing Birchwood and Bernie Cook Parks are about $1 million each. The cost of Bayside Park would be about $500,000 to $700,000, he said.
The parks have outdated playground equipment, they are in need of engineering for drainage issues, and none of them are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.
Plans for all three parks include new playgrounds ‑‑ one for ages 2 to 5 and one for ages 6 to 12 ‑‑ with approved safety surfaces (such as “Pour and Play,” or artificial turf); walking perimeters; underground irrigation; gazebos; low-voltage LED security site lighting; and security cameras.
Birchwood Park is scheduled first. The park is located in the neighborhood behind the Warren H. Wolf Elementary School on Chambers Bridge Road.
Birchwood Park plans include the relocation of the baseball field, two basketball courts, and a lawn area for events such as movies in the park, Santaniello said. The plans include a retention basin for excess water drainage.
“When they re-do the parks, they strip the entire site and resurvey it to make sure they have the right pitch for drainage,” he said. “And they try to reuse the existing basketball court surface by grinding it up and using it as a subbase for the new courts.”
Next on the list is Bernie Cook Park, located behind the Wawa by Garden State Parkway entrance 91. The playground equipment there does not meet safety standards, plus it is peeling and plagued by graffiti.
Bernie Cook Park would be the first in the area to have a Learn to Bike section, an idea first proposed by Township Council vice president Andrea Zapcic, who is the director of recreation for the city of Rahway.
“It is for little kids who are learning how to ride a two-wheeler in a safe environment,” Santaniello said. “It would be gated and have little street signs and stop signs.”
The Learn to Bike area would be in a “little pod” of the park adjacent to the playground and a new skate park. Bernie Cook Park would also have a fenced-in retention basin for excess water drainage.
Brick has a skate park at the Drum Point Sports Complex, but the hours are restricted and there is limited access because of Drum Point Elementary School, he said.
Santaniello said the township hopes to break ground on Bernie Cook Park in the fall of 2017 with an eye on having it completed by spring 2018.
Plans for the third park, Bayside Park ‑‑ located across from Brick Beach 3 on the barrier island ‑‑ include five bait/crabbing stations (some under a shade structure); an open space area for recreational events, and the beach sand would be replaced by a sod berm which people could sit on for viewing entertainment events.
The wooden gazebo would be replaced by a low-maintenance, pre-fabricated metal gazebo because of the corrosive salt elements there, Santaniello said.
New playground equipment would be added to the current equipment since it was purchased just before Superstorm Sandy, he said.
Santaniello said they hope to break ground on Bayside Park in the spring of 2018 and have it completed later that year by late summer or early fall of that year.
According to township Business Administrator Joanne Bergin, funds for the design of Birchwood Park was in the 2015 capital budget and funds for its construction was in the 2016 capital budget. Funds for the design and construction of Bernie Cook Park was in the 2016 capital budget, and so was the design of Bayside Park.
“We will not likely authorize the construction of [Bayside Park] until the Army Corps Beach Replenishment project is complete,” Bergin wrote in an email.
The 2017 capital budget has not yet been finalized, she said, and the administration is applying for Green Acres funds to offset the cost of the upgrades.
Santaniello said that the township has already applied for and received a “No Net Loss” grant that would pay for trees to be planted at the parks.
When the “Three B’s” are finished, all the large township parks will have been upgraded, Santaniello said.
The other large parks ‑‑ Arrowhead, Frede, Herbertsville, Lake Riviera, Windward Beach, and Angela Hibbard ‑‑ have all been renovated within the past six years.
Mayor John G. Ducey said that redoing the parks was one of his goals when he became mayor three years ago.
“Some of the parks haven’t been updated since the 1970s or 1980s,” he said. “When we are finished, we’ll see what the next big projects are that we can accomplish.”
Before plans for the park upgrades are finalized they are reviewed by Santaniello, Ducey, recreation chair councilwoman Zapcic, Business Administrator Bergin, Township Engineer Elissa Commins, Parks Supervisor Ken Mathis, Purchasing Agent Maryann Jusinski, and Township Electrician Antonio Santos.