Land Might Be Bought For Open Space And Bike Trail

There are two parcels. One is north of Grassy Hollow Drive, off of Route 527. The other is a spot south of Green Leaf Court on North Bay Avenue. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

TOMS RIVER – The Township Council voiced their support for Ocean County to purchase land that can then be turned into a bicycle trail.

There are two parcels. One is north of Grassy Hollow Drive, off of Route 527. The other is a spot south of Green Leaf Court on North Bay Avenue. The council passed a resolution supporting an eventual purchase by the county’s Natural Lands Trust Fund Program. County representatives have said in the past that they like to have an official statement by a town before they move forward with buying land.

Even though these two parcels are not contiguous, the bike trail would head through both of them as well as other spots in town, such as behind Veterans Park on North Bay, and Ocean County College, Councilman Maurice Hill said.

This land on North Bay Avenue is being eyed for purchase as open space.

The town received a Local Technical Planning Assistance grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to help them plan the bike path, Hill said.

Some residents had approached the council months ago asking them to purchase the Green Leaf property. They said that any development there would increase traffic congestion and that the land was environmentally sensitive. Green Leaf resident Jan Rella noted that a developer had proposed building homes that would be four times as densely built as their neighborhood.

Councilman Hill talked about the timeline on how this proposal came to be. Councilman Daniel Rodrick asked about acquiring that open space. Councilman George Wittmann, who had been wanting to have a bike path built, happened to know one of the property owners, Frank Grasso.

This red-headed woodpecker was photographed on the Green Leaf property by one of Jan Rella’s neighbors. (Photo courtesy Jan Rella)

The county was looking into buying nearby land owned by someone else, so business administrator Don Guardian asked the county to purchase the additional land as well, Hill said.

It will be a “win-win-win” for the township if the land gets purchased, he said. There will be more open space, more recreation, and Toms River will likely get funding from the state for the path and planning assistance from the county.

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Chris Lundy is News Editor at Micromedia. He has covered Ocean County news and features in various publications since 2003. Lundy worked for Gannett with articles in The Beacon, Observer and Asbury Park Press. He's also written for the Community Connection, Patch and ShoreBeat.