Manchester Provides County With Land For Park

Photo by Jennifer Peacock

  MANCHESTER – Plans to build a county park in Manchester Township are moving forward.

  The Manchester Township Council approved the donation and sale of acreage to Ocean County for the creation of a county park. That plan was first introduced by Mayor Kenneth T. Palmer and the late Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. last April.

  The township will be donating 237.09 acres of land toward the project. Those four blocks were made as two separate purchases by Manchester with township open space funds and Green Acres grants, business administrator Donna Markulic said.

  The one property was purchased on Sept. 28, 2005 for $2.2 million, and the second property on April 23, 2012 for $1.875 million.

  The Green Acres program, established in 1961, provides grants to preserve open space around the state. Once land is purchased with those grants, it can’t be sold for other uses, council vice president Samuel Fusaro explained.

  “We have been reimbursed for much of this property through Green Acres funding, so we are not losing money,” Markulic said. “Plus we are donating it for use that benefits the residents of Manchester Township.”

  The township is also selling land to the county for the future park. That land – 11.63 acres – will be sold for $1.425 million.

  Manchester purchased that property with township funds back on Dec. 31, 2008 for that amount. Markulic said two appraisals were completed 2006, one at $1,220,000 and one for $1,455,000.

  “This land was not restricted to use as recreation or conservation as the other pieces above are once they were purchased with Green Acres or Open Space funds. This piece was still deemed commercial and had a great value, as such the county was willing to reimburse us for the land,” Markulic said.

  The properties are located along Routes 571 and 547, bordering Jackson Township.

  The park will be the county’s 28th and possibly final park. Preliminary plans call for one side to include passive hiking trails that are ADA accessible on the eastern end. The western end would have fields for soccer and other sports. Those plans are subject to change.