COOLER temperatures, clear, crisp days and leaves changing colors – the Fall season is just the perfect time of year to see Ocean County Parks at their finest.
“Our parks have beautiful trails that just meander through some of the most beautiful areas of Ocean County,” said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. “From the Barnegat Branch Rail Trail to the trails in Wells Mills County Park and Jakes Branch County Park, we have something for everyone.”
Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari recently visited the county’s newly constructed boardwalk trail at Cattus Island County Park in Toms River Township.
“This is the perfect trail for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities,” said Vicari, who serves as Chairman of Senior Services. “If you rely on a wheelchair or have a youngster in a stroller, this newly constructed boardwalk trail offers you a unique opportunity to view beautiful sunsets, intriguing water fowl and in the winter, peaceful snowfalls along a pristine part of the Barnegat Bay.”
The newly constructed boardwalk trail at Cattus Island County Park provides an exciting and accessible option to visitors. With a five-feet, seven-inch wide deck, there is ample space for wheelchairs or other mobility devices to move comfortably along the trail. The trail fits seamlessly into the environment, allowing visitors to visit the saltmarsh and provides views of Barnegat Bay. The 1,500-foot-long boardwalk and stone-dust trail is also great for families with young children, as it provides a wide and firm surface to push strollers as you walk from the park’s Cooper Environmental Center to the playground and picnic area.
“We are pleased to offer this amenity at Cattus Island County Park to all of our visitors,” Bartlett said. “This park offers such a wide array of wildlife and natural jewels that offering a boardwalk that meanders through the marshes and can accommodate all of our guests is an invaluable benefit.”
The project began in 2012 when the original boardwalk was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy.
As the storm surge ripped through the park, it lifted the old boardwalk off its wooden foundation and smashed it against the surrounding trees. Despite the best efforts of park staff, the former boardwalk was impossible to restore to its safe and accessible state, Bartlett said.
“I would like to commend the staff of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation working with the Ocean County Department of Engineering in redesigning the boardwalk and applying for necessary permits,” said Vicari, who serves as liaison to tourism. “We also received help from the county Corrections Department and Buildings and Grounds.
“It was important that this new structure would not just be wider, it would be stronger and more resilient,” Vicari said.
The engineers designed the boardwalk to sit atop 14-foot galvanized helical piles. These provide a stable footing anchored deep into the soil, preventing the boardwalk from twisting or floating during a storm.
The wood of the structure is pressure treated and the fasteners are stainless steel. These materials resist the corrosive effects of the salt-water environment. Finally, the elevation was raised to keep the lumber above any seasonal high tides or storm events.
Shorelands Construction, a local marine construction company, rebuilt the boardwalk trail through the muddy and often waterlogged marsh. In less than six months, they were able to bring the boardwalk trail to completion.
“This trail along with the many other park trails throughout the Ocean County Park system is just a perfect way to enjoy nature in the fall,” Vicari said. “We want our residents and visitors to see all that Ocean County has to offer them and the park trails are just a perfect place to start.”
For more information on Ocean County Parks visit www.oceancountyparks.org or for Information and Reservations (732) 506-9090 or 877-OCPARKS.