by Phil Stilton
BERKELEY TOWNSHIP-More than four years after being critically damaged by Superstorm Sandy, the Berkeley Island County Park is finally being rebuilt. In November, the county announced a $6.9 million construction contract was approved by the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
“To say we are excited about the bid award and ground breaking would be an understatement,” said Mayor Carmen Amato. “Berkeley Island County Park is enjoyed by so many Berkeley residents and we can’t wait for construction to begin.”
The park has been closed since Sandy, but the new plans unveiled to the community highlighted new amenities, including the first Ocean County run splash park for children.
“We have also added a unique and new feature sure to make children happy especially in the warm weather,” said Ocean County Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. “Berkeley Island County Park will be home to the county’s first splash park.”
Bartlett said he traveled to Philadelphia to see firsthand how the splash pad operates and whether it would be a good fit for an Ocean County park. Bartlett said if the 2,300 square foot, nautically themed splash park is successful at Berkeley Island, Ocean County may consider installing them at other county parks.
“I want to thank the Ocean County Freeholders for providing the investment to not only repair, but to rebuild the entire park. In our early discussions with Freeholder Bartlett, a splash park was discussed, which we were very supportive of having,” Amato added. “We are extremely pleased that the Freeholders did include the splash park. Prior to Superstorm Sandy, Berkeley Island Park was showing its age. I’m looking forward to it’s opening very soon!”
The Freeholders on Nov. 2 awarded a contract for the park redevelopment project to Eagle Construction, of Burlington, in the amount of $6.9 million.
Ocean County expects about $1.2 million reimbursement for the work from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and about $200,000 from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Additional funding may be provided by FEMA from mitigation funds.
Engineers from T&M Associates and Barlo & Associates designed the park redevelopment and buildings, strengthening them to withstand future storms.
A living shoreline will be installed on the south side of the park, and shoreline protection has been fitted on the north side. All new infrastructures, a new parking area with ADA accommodations and improved lighting for easy access are just some of the features that improve the function, aesthetics and recreational opportunities available at this 25 acre park.