Open Space Grants Will Fund Improvements

January 7, 2019
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The Borough of Highlands was one of 13 municipalities to receive Monmouth County Open Space grant funding, an award of $125,000 for court improvements at Snug Harbor Park. (Photo by Chris Rotolo)

By Chris Rotolo

Some Monmouth County towns have something new to look forward to in 2019, with the county’s announcement it will offer funds for projects that range from park improvements, a soccer facility and the acquisition of open space.

At its final meeting of 2018, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders released Open Space Trust Fund matching grants totaling more than $2.23 million.

One of the towns is Highlands, which sought funds to repair the storm-damaged and weathered tennis and basketball courts at Snug Harbor Park. The borough will get $125,000.

“This grant will be very positive for the town and our residents and we’re really excited to get the project underway,” said Kim Gonzales, Highlands borough administrator, in a Jan. 1 interview with The Two River Times.

Gonzales added that Borough Council members Ken Braswell and Rosemary Ryan would be working closely with borough personnel on the improvement project.

In the fall, Gonzales said the goal was to transform the area into one that residents could take pride in. The courts are currently surfaced with 12-by-12-inch perforated, plastic sports tiles that have been worn down by floodwaters, a brutal Bayshore climate and major storms like Irene and Sandy. The park abuts the town’s community center and a public beachfront. There are no plans to make upgrades to the skate park on site, nor the gravel parking lot that exits onto Bay Avenue.

Another Two River-area town, Little Silver, was also awarded $125,000 for upgrades for parking lot improvements, bathroom upgrades and ADA improvements at Challenger Field, a dirt baseball and softball diamond located behind Silver Shears Hair Studio at 320 Willow Drive. The field’s grass outfield is also used for soccer events.

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The monies allocated are “matching grants,” meaning the municipalities are obligated to match the amount of funding provided by the county for their respective projects.

All 53 municipalities in Monmouth County are permitted to submit grant applications for funding of up to $250,000.

Tinton Falls, Howell and Spring Lake were awarded the full amount.

The following grants were also awarded:

  • Allenhurst, $50,000 for gazebo improvements at Railroad Plaza Park.
  • Deal, $125,000 for the second phase of improvements being made at Harry Franco Park.
  • Howell, $250,000 for a multi-use building at Solder Memorial Park.
  • Keansburg, $85,000 for improvements to its Baywalk on the western portion of the borough’s boardwalk.
  • Keyport, $140,000 for improvements to Kearney Street Park.
  • Long Branch, $200,000 improvements to the Jackson Woods Trail.
  • Millstone, $180,000 for the Barnegat Bay Conservation Area acquisition.
  • Neptune City, $200,000 for Memorial Park playground and ADA improvements.
  • Spring Lake, $125,000 for the third phase of improvements being made at Divine Park.
  • Spring Lake, $125,000 Ocean Road Park improvements.
  • Tinton Falls, $250,000 for Walz property acquisition, a 60-acre parcel on Shark River Road that the governing body agreed to purchase for open space preservation for $970,000 in Dec. 2017.
  • Union Beach, $125,000 for improvements to Helen Hayes Memorial Park, a soccer facility located at 650 Pool Avenue near the borough’s municipal building.
  • Wall Township, $125,000 for improvements to Community Park South.

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