Team New Jersey Elite, a Toms-River based nonprofit organization and public charity that offers athletic and academic education to high school youths, is seeking to build a sports complex and school at the intersection of Route 72 and Route 532 in Barnegat.
The organization presented their plans to the township last month, and its representatives felt the community was receptive to their project, they said.
"They definitely seem to be 100 percent behind it," said Athletic Director Eric Alvarez. "The township and the mayor and the overall the majority of the people that were there seemed to be happy about it."
"it would bring enomoc growth to the Township of Barnegat," Alvarez added. "There would be jobs created within our facility."
"Barnegat loves us," said Dennis Pfefferkorn, project coordinator for the complex and Team New Jersey Elite's treasurer secretary. "It’s a great area for us to have the project in. The access from the Parkway is great, you got Atlanitc City, you got Newark, you got Philadelphia. Plus you have Long Beach Island, so if people come to the camp after the games, they can go out on Long Beach Island. So families can have a great vacation along with their children playing sports."
"This would be the type of business development that Barnegat Township would encourage and support," said Township Administrator David Breeden. "Overall, commercial ratables are a low impact type of ratable as they usually require little in the way of municipal services along with having almost no impact on the schools."
If the plans are realized, the 35-acre complex will feature a stadium, along with a school building offering academic tutoring for the young athletes.
"We’re a sports and education academy, yes, and our main focus is baseball," Alvarez said. "But we’ll be going out to other sports, as well."
The sports featured at the site will include football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.
The nonprofit was founded in 2010, and is now serving 45 high school students from all over Ocean County in several rented facilities in Manasquan.
"Our mission is geared to the student athlete, to make them physically fit and mentally prepared for college and for the sport that they desire to be in," Pfefferkorn said. "Seniors and juniors are our prime target."
The organization must go through a checklist of issues to address with the Pinelands Commission before proceeding with the project, Team New Jersey Elite representatives said. And, according to Pfefferkorn, if they are unable to address every issue, the group will try to acquire approvals to build on a different site in town. Pfefferkorn chose not to reveal the site's precise location.
"Hopefully we do resolve the issues (on the Route 72 site,)" Pfefferkorn said, "but if we don’t, we do have a plan B site, also in Barnegat."
"While they face many challenges with securing necessary approvals for their project, Team New Jersey Elite seems serious about building in Barnegat and is working diligently in order to accomplish their goal," Township Administrator Breeden said. "When practical, the township will provide any assistance or guidance in their effort to develop in Barnegat."