TOMS RIVER, NJ – Ocean County Freeholder Virginia Haines’ plan to get herself in the newspapers by spacing out park openings to get the best media bang for the buck, which is about $1,000,000 annually in the county press department, is working. Today, Haines, 85, trickled out a few more park openings for her denizens. “Today, I am announcing the reopening of Cattus Island County Park, Toms River Township, Cloverdale County Park, Barnegat Township and Tip Seaman County Park, Tuckerton, starting Thursday, May 7,” Ocean County Parks and Recreation Czar Haines said in a press release prepared by one of her six-figure content writers. “I want to stress these parks are being reopened for passive recreation – walking, jogging, hiking, running and similar activities. Visitors must maintain social distancing and adhere to the other requirements set in place for the safety of the public and our County staff.”
Haines still has not reopened the Brick Township Mantoloking Bay Park which she closed after learning Orthodox Jews from Lakewood Township were using the park.
The three additional parks have been added to the seven other parks reopened by the County on May 2 along with its two golf courses, the Barnegat Branch Trail, and its natural land sites.
In addition, singles tennis/pickleball will be allowed at Ocean County Park, Lakewood, Jakes Branch County Park, Beachwood and Tip Seaman County Park, Tuckerton, at this time based on Gov. Murphy’s recommendations. There will be restrictions placed on play.
“I believe it’s important to again emphasize that reop,” Haines said. “And while we want to provide safe and la ur residents to spend time outside, especially with warm weather coming, we also want to urge everyone that they need ntinue to take precautions at this time.”
Parks maintained by Ocean County that reopened on May 2 were Wells Mills County Park, Waretown, John C. Bartlett Jr. County Park at Berkeley Island, Jakes Branch County Park, Beachwood, Ocean County Park and Lake Shenandoah County Park, both in Lakewood, Patriots County Park, Jackson Township, and Freedom Fields, Little Egg Harbor Township. The Ocean County Golf Course at Atlantis, in Little Egg Harbor Township and Forge Pond County Golf Course in Brick Township also reopened for play. And, the Barnegat Branch Trail which starts at Burr Street in Barnegat Township and travels north toward Toms River reopened to the public.
In addition parking will continue to be capped at 50 percent and wearing face coverings is strongly suggested. The parks that have been reopened are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Haines noted that residents can use the county golf courses by prepaid reservation only with restrictions including no groups larger than two players. Golf course hours will be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ocean County closed its parks and natural lands to the public on March 31 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus and based on the mandates from President Trump and Gov. Murphy for social distancing and stay at home orders…and because Haines was told Jews were using her parks.
“We are following Gov. Murphy’s requirements that he outlined for reopening the state parks,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “It’s important that we do this right. We want to see the numbers continue to trend downward of people getting COVID 19. We need to stay the course but we also realize people need opportunities for passive recreation for their overall health.
“It’s important that we continue to follow social distancing rules. We all need to remember that our actions don’t affect just us, they affect our family, they affect our health care workers, they affect our emergency responders, they affect the workers at our grocery stores,” Vicari said. “We need to all continue to do our part to stop the spread of this virus.”