MANAHAWKIN – If you live in Ocean Acres, you have a variety of parks to choose from to spend a nice, sunny day. Now, locals have another, newer option.
Stafford officials cut the ribbon on the newly renovated Ocean Acres Lake Park recently in the Ocean Acres section of Stafford Township.
What was once sparse and outdated playground equipment is now refurbished with a new and improved playground area and picnic tables overlooking the scenic lake.
“This is one of the parks that really needed an upgrade, it was really getting to that point,” said Stafford Mayor John Spodofora.
Betti Anne McVey, Stafford’s recreation director, noted that the park’s equipment was “original,” being over 30 years old, and was old and outdated.
“I’ve been here for almost 35 years and that equipment…hadn’t gotten a total facelift,” said McVey.
“Betti Anne’s philosophy is…a holistic approach to all the recreational needs of this township and that means from the smallest child all the way up to the oldest senior citizen,” said Spodofora.
Another motivation for revamping the park was to encourage children to get outside, according to Spodofora.
“Getting them outside and having fun and interacting with other children; it’s simply much better than sitting in front of a Gameboy or whatever they play these days,” he joked.
The park renovations had a price tag of approximately $400,000, according to township administrator James Moran.
“The equipment decision was made back in December when we won a $100,000 grant from GameTime,” said Moran.
GameTime is a leading commercial playground equipment manufacturer. The grant of $100,000 reduced the total cost of equipment for the township from $400,000 to $300,000.
The improvements to the park also included grading, irrigation upgrades, sod work, picnic bench upgrades, and new grills. Moran noted that the tennis courts adjacent to the playground area were also re-painted. He explained that while no major improvements were made on the tennis courts, this might be a project Ocean Acres residents could expect to see in the future.
Nearly all of the work done on the playground was performed by the Department of Public Works. Only the installation of the playground equipment was not done in-house as it was part of the total price of the equipment.
“Doing all this work in-house is saving us a phenomenal amount of money,” said Spodofora.
The new park is located on Buccaneer Lane in Ocean Acres, which Spodofora called “a phenomenal location” due to its centrality and proximity to the lake.
McVey said that the township’s work on the new park was just another tiny step “to increase the overall quality of life here in Stafford Township.”
McVey and Spodofora remarked that the Recreation Department works to create a balance between addressing the needs of the township while having limited resources.
According to Moran, the township has another potentially new park currently in design for next year, also coordinated with GameTime. This park would most likely be located at Doc Cramer.