Work Started on County Parks in Barnegat
County Freeholder presented update at Township Committee meeting Monday.
Work is currently under way at both the Lochiel Creek and Cloverdale Farm county parks, according to Freeholder John Bartlett, who presented an update on the work at Barnegat Township's regular committee meeting on Monday night.
Bartlett said that although the county has encountered some barriers in getting the work under way, in the form of lack of finances and ecological challenges, they expect that the work should be completed in the next several months.
"I apologize we have taken so long," Bartlett told the audience. "It is not that it got forgotten, the money just wasn't there. We have now stretched it out a little longer. Whatever we do we're going to do it right, rather than do it half way."
At Lochiel, Bartlett said that the county has had some "problems with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service" because of the indigenous swamp pinks in the area. According to the Service's website, swamp pinks are "threatened." The website continues: "supporting over half of the known populations, New Jersey is the stronghold for swamp pink. An obligate wetland species, swamp pink occurs in a variety of palustrine forested wetlands including swampy forested wetlands bordering meandering streamlets, headwater wetlands, sphagnous Atlantic white-cedar swamps, and spring seepage areas."
"Beause of the swamp pinks, we need permission with boardwalks, gravel, anything," Barlett said. "We, can do nothing that might effect the quality of the swamp pinks."
Despite these barriers, Bartlett said the county plans for a "gorgeous park" that will feature restroom facilities, and access to the Barnegat Rail Trail through a neighboring, township-owned park.
"This is a gorgeous site, it will help you in the township make access out of the ballfields easier than it was before," Bartlett said.
Discussing Cloverdale farm, Bartlett noted that the house that once was located at the farm, has been removed, the foundation exposed and expanded to pave the way for restroom facilities at the site. He showed plans for the craftsman-style house, which will house the restrooms. The house features a "fake" chimney which will actually be the exhaust system for the bathrooms.
The site will also feature parking for about 35 cars, and two of the bogs will be maintained as workig cranberry bogs.
"I would've liked to keep them all flooded because it's so beautiful. but if we maintain it as a farm, we will have a much easier job with the DEP of getting the water rights to flood the bog." The Freeholder added that they are hoping to purchase some land, once a bidder is found for the nearby Shoreline property, to screen the road "from whatever they put" on the site.
Mayor Al Cirulli thanked Bartlett for the update. The update came about two weeks after a township resient appeared at another committee meeting and called the lack of progress on the park an "insult to the people of Barnegat."
Once a working cranberry farm, the 80-acre area now has become a haven for nature lovers, featuring wildflowers, cranberries and more.