OCEAN COUNTY – The county is moving forward with its plans for a park in Manchester.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders at its recent meeting approved a $5 million appropriation for the land acquisition, permitting, design and development of acreage at Routes 571 and 549 across from Ridgeway Liquors to create the county’s 28th park.
The township owns 247 acres, and 13 acres are privately held. With wetlands restrictions, 120 acres is developable.
The county and township have been in quiet talks for about two years to fill in the “last hole in the county park system,” which Freeholder John C. Bartlett said is in Manchester Township.
Ridgway Boulevard – Route 571 – runs through the parcels, which may actually work into a logical split: one side could have passive hiking trails that are ADA accessible on the eastern end, the other could have soccer and other playing fields on the western end, though the plans are subject to change.
Bartlett stressed the park is a regional park, not a township park, but the county would consider what would most benefit Manchester residents, as they would likely be the ones to use the park most.
Mayor Kenneth Palmer has said the county will reimburse the township about $1.2 million for the Green Acres-purchased lots and $25,000 in soft costs.
Both parties agree with the estimate that the project won’t be completed for several years.