Press Release from Ocean County
TOMS RIVER – Ocean County officials celebrated the first days of spring with a grand reopening of the Cooper Environmental Center at Cattus Island County Park, here.
The Cooper Environmental Center which houses displays of wildlife and vegetation indigenous to the area and the Barnegat Bay watershed and provides a workshop area was flooded during Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012.
The work included installing all new windows and replacing all the outside siding with a fiber and cement product to eliminate the potential for mold. The tile and carpet that was once inside the building was replaced with an epoxy-based floor.
High pressure laminate walls were installed and all the heating units were relocated to the attic and the air conditioning was raised.
When enjoying the renovated center, visitors are now greeted with a host of new inside displays including an Interactive Habitat Tree, a large climb-in Osprey nest with informational touch screen, live viewing camera of Ospreys on the marsh, touch tank and live animal tanks, a kids’ corner with educational and interactive game books, owl identification show case display, a shell sorting and identification table, a Wentz microscope for scientific investigation and a living green wall.
In addition, the renovation work also included upgrading the facility to meet all Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. And, the center’s program room was expanded to accommodate larger groups.
Lois Schoeck, chairperson of the Cattus Island Advisory Council, extended the council’s appreciation to the park staff and the volunteers.
“The staff put their heart and soul into bringing this center back from the storm,” she said. “I deeply appreciate all they did to get us here today.”
Gavan General Contracting Inc., the original contractor for the environmental center, was also the contractor for the renovation.
Ocean County is anticipating federal funding reimbursement, in part, for the work, since the building was damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
“Now that the work is done, the building is once again the centerpiece for the park and as it stands now it is much more resilient and can withstand future storms,” Bartlett said.
Cattus Island County Park has been reopened since the storm with most of its trails cleared and repaired.
A celebratory open house for the center has also been planned from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 25. The event is free and open to the public.
Photo: Handout photo by Ocean County.