Manchester Awaits New County Park

A 250-acre area in Manchester Township will soon be the site of a passive and recreational park. It will be located on Route 571 up to Route 547 and Ridgeway Boulevard. The new park needs a name. Currently, it has no tentative target date for its opening. (Photo courtesy Manchester Township)

  MANCHESTER – Township officials and residents are looking forward to the addition of a new county park that will be used for multiple purposes.

  County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines provided an update on the county’s proposed facility during the Board’s recent reorganization meeting.

  “The new Manchester Park will be our 28th park. It will be an unbelievable park, located on Route 571 up to 547 from the railroad track in Manchester to Ridgeway Liquor. It will be about 250 acres and it will be a passive and recreational park,” said Haines, who serves as liaison to the county’s parks and recreation department.

  She added, “the first part of the park will be from the railroad track to Ridgeway Boulevard and it will be passive and have nature trails that you will be able to walk through. We will be having interpretive panels along the trail related to the historic Lakehurst Naval Air Station.”

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  She noted that “during the 1920s there was an airport there. They did tours of Lakehurst and it was also used as a cross country mail carrier. Some of this park area will have playing fields for those who just want to go and play Frisbee or just find a place to sit and read.”

  Haines said the active part of the park, “which I feel is very important will have a soccer and softball field, a pickle ball court, a spray park, a playground and two pavilions for picnics and bathrooms that will be environmentally friendly like we have at one of our golf courses that we have in Brick.”

  “It will also have a maintenance building which is very important for us to maintain the park to its highest standards,” Haines said.

  She later told The Manchester Times, “We are getting ready to make application for the necessary permits from the Pinelands Commission and also the state Department of Environmental Protection. While this undertaking will take some time, this regional park will meet the needs of the residents of Manchester Township and those living nearby.”

Manchester Township Councilwoman Michele Zolezi, left, joins Manchester Mayor Robert Hudak, Ocean County Board of Commissioners Deputy Director Virgina Haines and Ocean County Commissioner Gary Quinn during a tour of what will be the 28th county park. It will be located along Ridgeway Avenue in Manchester Township. (Photo courtesy Ocean County)

  Manchester Township donated about 215 acres along with the County purchasing about 12 acres from the township for the park project. The County also purchased another 23 acres that was in private ownership.

  Because the site is bisected by Ridgeway Boulevard, Ocean County will use its unique geography to provide a side dedicated to active recreation and a separate more passive setting. The total developable area is about 121 acres with remaining acreage mostly wetlands and buffer area.

  This park will be built in two phases with the first phase focusing on the infrastructure and passive recreation. At the current time, Ocean County is researching possibilities for a name for the park. The name will be reflective of the area history.

  Mayor Robert Hudak was present at the Commissioner meeting along with Councilwoman Michele Zolezi. They were pleased that the topic was discussed. The site has no target date for opening to the public. Former Manchester Mayor Kenneth Palmer and Commissioner Haines toured the Krupnick site that was previously considered as a park location.

  “I’m very excited about partnering with the county to make this open space acquisition possible. This purchase will be completed using $1.5 million of the Manchester’s open space funds with the County purchasing the adjacent property,” Mayor Hudak said.

  The mayor added, “one of the major issues facing our region is overdevelopment and I’m proud to stand with Manchester residents in preserving our town’s aesthetic appeal. This property was slated to be developed into 245 apartment units and instead will now be a passive recreational area for residents to enjoy scenic trails along the Union Branch of the Toms River Creek.”

  “I’d like to thank Commissioner Haines and the Ocean County National Lands Trust Fund and look forward to them approving it at their next meeting,” Mayor Hudak said.