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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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2 Open Space Projects Seek Funding

This image is a rendering of what pedestrians and cyclists would see coming into the county from the Great Egg Harbor Bridge.  

By Erin Ledwon

CREST HAVEN – At the Nov. 26 freeholder caucus, county Planning Director Leslie Gimeno outlined two Open Space projects for freeholders.
One was a Special Funding Round project. The other was a Historic Preservation project.
Historic Preservation
Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC) seeks roof rehabilitation and restoration for the outbuildings on the site of the Emlen Physick Estate, built in 1879. The property is listed on the state and national historic registers.
Jody Alessandrine, the new director and chief executive officer of MAC, was in attendance.
Funding recommendation is $34,043, with $22,694 in matching funds. Total project cost is $56,737.
Special Funding Round 
The bigger project of the evening, according to Gimeno, was Beesley’s Point Park in Upper Township. “What this project enables us to do is to create a new gateway into the county; a new, organized park using our creative placemaking elements,” said Gimeno.
She noted the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) built a multi-use path along the bridge.
“This will be the welcoming place where people come into our county,” said Gimeno. “It’s also the launch place where people can go park and then embark northward, so we really wanted to make it a great showcase for the county, and using our new creative placemaking plan.”
The site, located at the base of the Great Egg Harbor Bridge, has a guarded beach, parking lot, and boat ramp.
Gimeno highlighted new amenities as part of the $1.4 million project, including a parking area, signage, pavilion, boardwalk path, restrooms, overlooks, beach shade structure, attendant kiosk, bike racks, and picnic benches.
The site would use the coastal family of placemaking elements – designs inspired by waves, water, and sand. The elements would be replicated throughout the various amenities, like the overlooks, benches, trash receptacles, etc.
The site is also a demonstration site for Open Space’s way-finding program. “When connecting the pieces of the regional bike path system together, a lot of concern has been how do people know where they are, how do they know where they’re going, and what they can access, so this whole family of signage will be used, not only on this site, but also used on other sites funded through the Open Space program, and also the regional bike path system,” said Gimeno.
Funding recommendation is $1.3 million. The project was awarded $500,000 a couple years ago, according to Gimeno. “When this project gets awarded, we’ll rescind the initial $500,000, so this isn’t a second grant for the same site, it’s a replacement,” she clarified.
Freeholder Jeffrey Pierson asked whether the county or municipality would be spearheading the project.
Gimeno said the applicants do the majority of the work, while the county provides the funding, which is awarded on a not-to-exceed amount.
“After they do the design work, you’ll review it all, and double check it?” asked Pierson.
“We actually do that before we bring that to you,” answered Gimeno.
“I really appreciate the township taking the lead on this,” said Pierson. Edward Barr, deputy mayor for Upper Township, and Paul Dietrich, engineer for Upper Township, attended the meeting.
Gimeno added that Designing Local, the Columbus, Ohio firm that designed a logo and placemaking for the county Division of Open Space and Farmland Preservation, would continue to work with the county through 2022 to “help with the technical aspects of how to incorporate these design elements into local projects.”
“We have a full support system out there, so, as we’re all learning collectively, we should be getting better at it, but we do have their professional support as well,” Gimeno added.
In response to a comment from Pierson about convincing the state Department of Transportation to open the bridge path to bicyclists, Gimeno said, “We are working on that as well.”
Next Steps  
A public hearing was held at the regular meeting, during which no one spoke.
There is a 45-day public comment period, after which the freeholder board can take formal action, per Gimeno. 

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