MANCHESTER – The Township’s public works director was recognized by a statewide engineer society for his work on a municipal playground.
Al Yodakis, director of public works, won first place in the Municipal Construction Projects division from the New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers. The prize recognized the work he and his department accomplished to revitalize 6th Avenue Park, in the heart of Pine Lake Park.
“I’m very proud of the work by my department in completing this project. There were a lot of new portions of this project that we have not previously utilized but our staff jumped right in and made things work,” Yodakis said in an email. “I’m thrilled with the final results and am very pleased to see families out using the park whenever I drive by.”
A park that had laid in disarray and attracted an array of unsavory activities, 6th Avenue Park had a complete overhaul using the existing footprint. Yodakis explained the full reconstruction of the park utilized some of the existing facilities. The park has two rebuilt basketball courts and two tennis courts, which now boast the high school’s blue and gold colors. It has a new safari-themed playground and pavilion for shade, a beach volleyball court and a new field for sports.
It also has new video monitoring system for the police department to deter vandalism, which so far has kept the park clean.
The project was completely designed and constructed buy the township which resulted in a significant cost savings, Yodakis added.
“One of our goals is to revitalize our aging parks,” Mayor Kenneth Palmer said in an email. Some parks need some TLC and others need an overhaul. “Sixth Avenue Park in Pine Lake Park is one that needed a major overhaul. Fortunately, Manchester Township has Al Yodakis, a certified civil engineer working as our Director of Public Works. When discussing our goal of revitalizing Sixth Avenue Park, Al and his team developed a beautiful concept for the park and made it a reality.”
All of the work was done in-house by the Department of Public Works employees, who Palmer said “took a tremendous amount of pride in making this park beautiful.”
“We wanted to give the residents a park that their families and kids would look forward going to and enjoy. By keeping the work in house, we were able to control costs and still deliver a fantastic park,” Palmer said. “The Council and I could not be happier about the finished product and prouder of Al and all of our workers in the DPW. The award to Al from the NJSME is absolutely deserved.”
The award, according to NJSME, is recognition “that highlights Manchester Township’s continued mission of providing quality services to our residents while maintaining fiscal responsibility.”
Yodakis said in addition to his department’s usually maintenance and road paving, they plan to reconstruct Summit Park playground in the upcoming year.