FAIR HAVEN – In an effort to improve access to the Navesink River, the borough has awarded a contract for engineering design work for two new “pocket parks” and a boat ramp near its business district.
During its final meeting of 2018, the governing body approved a resolution contracting Maser Consulting for a three-phase operation that will provide a blueprint for the development of pocket parks at the end of Grange Avenue and Hance Road, and the refurbishment of a boat launch on Battin Road.
The scope of the work is capped at $124,700, a price tag borough administrator Theresa Casagrande said will be covered by a $250,000 Monmouth County Open Space match grant awarded to Fair Haven in 2017.
Casagrande said increased access to this local waterway is something residents pushed for in a recent survey and it’s been a goal of the Borough Council to ensure those desires are met.
“This was something we saw a lot in a survey we conducted several years ago, which wasn’t surprising, because the river is such an amazing asset to the borough,” Casagrande said in a Jan. 14 interview with The Two River Times. “This is something we’re committed to and something residents will start to see take shape sooner rather than later.”
According to the resolution, Maser Consulting is contracted to complete the three-phase process with six distinct tasks:
- Phase 1.0:Engineering Design Services, $94,000
- Phase 2.0: Grange Avenue and Hance Road permitting services, $4,600
- Phase 3.0:Battin Road permitting services
- Phase 3.1:Waterfront development permit application, $6,900
- Phase 3.2:Characterization of dredge material, $16,000
- Phase 3.3: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit application, $3,200
Fair Haven Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli said the project is twofold and a large portion of expenses will address the maintenance of integral infrastructure in the area, as well as beautification efforts.
“The way we see it, there are some much needed infrastructure improvements we need to make in those areas, but while we’re there, let’s make these sites destinations for our residents to walk their dogs, or sit on a park bench. Not everyone can afford waterfront property, but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to enjoy it,” Lucarelli told The Two River Times.
According to Lucarelli, the scope of the infrastructure work includes the reconstruction of the bulkhead at the end of Grange Avenue, which he said is “completely gone,” and the repair of storm water outfalls on both Grange Avenue and Hance Road.
“As well as infrastructure upgrades and amenities, we also want to lessen the intensity of maintenance in these areas,” Lucarelli said. “We want to make these passive parks, but not sites that need constant attention from borough personnel.”
Aside from these passive pocket parks and the Battin Road boat launch, the borough has also started work at another public parcel at the end of De Normandie Avenue.
The 0.56-acre riverfront plot is receiving a $45,000 facelift.
“We purchased the land several years ago through grant sources and borough funds, and a bulk of that funding came from the New Jersey Blue Acres program,” Casagrande said.
Casagrande added that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection placed restrictions on the parcel because of its proximity to the river and those limitations didn’t allow for any large-scale equipment, facilities or impervious surfaces.
“We’re getting there,” Lucarelli said of the De Normandie Avenue project, a historic property that was once home to the Charles Williams Robard Estate and included a home that was originally built in the 1850s by Charles Williams, a free African-American.
The home was occupied and owned by Williams’ family and descendants for approximately 160 years until it became dilapidated and unsafe.
“This is going to be a very special place when the project is completed,” said Lucarelli, who noted that the American Littoral Society had designed a “living shoreline” for the parcel, which, unlike traditional bulkheads and seawalls that can worsen erosion, is composed of as many natural elements as possible to better absorb wave energy and create a more effective buffer.
Fair Haven became interested in the De Normandie Avenue property in 2009, and in 2014 acquired it for $1.2 million with financial assistance from the Monmouth Conservation Foundation, the County of Monmouth and New Jersey’s Blue Acres and Green Acres programs.
Lucarelli said the borough has secured a large stone and will affix a bronze placard to it commemorating the Charles Williams Robard family.
This article was first published in the Feb.7-14, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
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