TOMS RIVER – The turn of the calendar page for Toms River isn’t just heading into another year. 2017 is the 250th anniversary of the township, dating back to its royal charter.
But there’s also some major projects – whether township, county or otherwise – planned for the Toms River area in the year ahead.
Here’s a look toward what milestones and projects are slated for Toms River.
A 250th anniversary is a semiquincentennial, and for Toms River a Semiquincentennial Committee is planning a year’s worth of events and special initiatives.
Plans are to have a major event in each month of the year, celebrating township history. That includes taking annual events and giving them a historical theme, such as FoodFest, said Township Clerk and Historian Mark Mutter said.
“Our plan is for each month in 2017, to have an event ‑‑ not just June 24, blowing out the birthday cake,” said the historian.
An anniversary calendar is available for $5 to help mark the year and enjoy history further, he said. They can be purchased at town hall.
Closed for most of the back half of 2016, Huddy Park is undergoing $1 million in renovations also timed with the anniversary year.
The downtown park was last improved at the 225th anniversary of the township and has since deteriorated, including Superstorm Sandy damage.
After its expected June opening, the park, the township’s first, have new bulkheads, gazebo and pathway improvements, and new historical signage and other elements surrounding the replica blockhouse there.
Beach, Dune Project
The Army Corps of Engineers has announced that they expected to award a contract sometime in December for the beach and dune replenishment project for the barrier island. The Corps received three bids for the project which ranged from $128,820,433 to $178,416,600.
Work on the long-awaited project, which will create 25-foot tall dunes and 200-foot-wide beaches from the Manasquan Inlet to South Seaside Park, is expected to begin in the spring of 2017.
North Dover Development
The rush of building that the Northern portion of the township is seeing has lead the township to identify more than 50 acres over several parcels that it wants to acquire for open space.
Currently, the lots, which abut Route 9 and the Riverwood and Cox Cro corridors, are a mix of undeveloped land, decades-old homes and businesses.
Township Administrator Paul Shives said this month that the township was prepared to proceed with eminent domain should the owners not accept offers sent earlier this year.
New War Memorial
The township also broke ground on a significant war memorial which will be built at the Route 571 entrance to the Bey Lea Park soccer complex.
The new veterans monument, called “Protectors of Freedom: 100 Years in the World Stage,” is part of a statewide recognition of a century since the United States’ entry into WWI.
The monument was made possible by the generous donation of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation. It will reflect every conflict from 1917 to today, depicted through six, eight-foot bronze sculptures, inclusive of a woman nurse in Vietnam. It should be unveiled this spring.
After several decades of combined service to Toms River, several key personnel are retiring, their last day being December 31.
Among them is longtime Township Planner Jay Lynch, who worked to oversee the recent update to the town master plan, a process that takes place every 10 years.
David Glynn Roberts will take his place as township planner. In his biography provided by the township, Robert’s resume includes serving as a Land Use Planning Department Manager with the firm of Maser Consulting, PA and a Principal at CMX/Schoor DePalma, where he specialized in redevelopment, sustainable design and growth management. Prior to his 21 years of private consulting practice, Roberts served as the Director of Planning and Zoning for the City of Asbury Park for 10 years.
Other key retirements include Fire Bureau Director James Mercready and Records Manager Greg Horback.
‑‑Judy Smestad Nunn contributed to this article.