Boro considers creating themes for area parks

Council seeking state money to pay for
playground renovations

By libby kesil
Staff Writer

Council seeking state money to pay for
playground renovations
By libby kesil
Staff Writer

RED BANK — The borough has a plan for its parks, and the state may provide the money to make those plans a reality.

At last week’s Borough Council meeting, Councilwoman Florence Thompson, the head of the Parks and Recreation Committee, asked the council to approve an application for a state Livable Communities Fund Grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

If the borough receives the funding, Thompson said, the committee may use the money to create themes at the playgrounds in three borough parks.

Thompson said that the Parks and Recreation staff was already working on the plan for improvements at the playgrounds in the parks when they became aware of the possibility of state funding for the work.

"I hope that we will be able to receive the money and to enlarge the playground in Marine Park, and that we will be able to include restrooms facilities and do various things that require our attention," Thompson said.

"We’ve been hoping and praying that we’d get money from somewhere, so I’m very hopeful," she added. "We have said that we’re going to do theme parks so that each park has its own theme. For instance Marine Park is going to have a Native American theme. We are going to have a dinosaur theme at East Side Park and a jazz theme at Count Basie Park."

Councilman Ivan Polonsky, also a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee, expressed concern that he was not a part of the decision to use themes.

"As a member of the committee, I don’t seem to get invited to the meeting," said Polonsky. "It’s the second time I’ve missed it."

Thompson said that the ideas for the themes did not come from a committee meeting, but came from the staff.

Despite the assurances, Polonsky continued to question the way the decisions were made.

"Did the staff make a decision on the jazz theme?" Polonsky asked. "Did the staff come up with this suggestion or was it a personal suggestion?"

Thompson assured Polonsky that it was not a personal suggestion.

Borough Administrator Stanley J. Sickels explained that a lack of time contributed to initial development at the staff level.

"The staff came up with a concept," said Sickels. "Unfortunately we got notice of the grant on Sept. 11. The due date is Sept. 30. We’re trying to get money in place."

Councilwoman Jennifer A. Beck expressed a desire to see the public included in the decision-making process.

"I think that sounds like an interesting idea," Beck said. "Will there be opportunity for the public to give their response, especially for East Side Park?

"I have, for the past two and a half years, received so many letters from the neighbors in that area," she continued. "I just want to make sure the public is involved before the final decision is made. I do think the people feel very invested in Count Basie Park. I think they feel invested in East Side Park. I’m sure they’re going to want to have some say."

Mayor Edward J. McKenna assured Beck and the council that all interested parties would have the chance to express themselves on the issue.

"It goes through the Parks and Recreation Committee and then comes to us and goes to the public," said McKenna.

Thompson said that before notice of the grant came in, Parks and Recreation staff had been working on plans to upgrade the parks and bring them into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Thompson did not specify the amount on the grant application.

The Borough Council unanimously agreed to authorize application for the grant. Thompson said that if the borough doesn’t get the money from the state, the committee will petition the council for as much as it can get. Without state funding, she said the project could be done piecemeal, starting in 2003 and doing whatever the borough can afford each year.

Thompson, a former teacher, said she likes the idea of the themes and the potential for the parks to teach. "I like to bring history into the present."

‘Ident-Adult’ program

in Sea Bright Oct. 16

Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph W. Oxley will hold an "Ident-Adult" program Oct. 16 at noon at the community center at Sea Bright Borough Hall, 1167 Ocean Ave.

The program will be for individuals age 50 and older.

Residents will be provided with free photo identification cards containing emergency information, as well as emergency contacts and phone numbers.

For more information, call Sheriff Oxley at (732) 294-5901.

MCREA monthly

meeting slated for Oct.

The Monmouth County Retired Education Association (MCREA) will hold its next meeting Oct. 15 at noon at the Church of Christ, 312 Hance Ave., Tinton Falls. A representative from the New Jersey State Bar will address the group and speak on consumer rights.

For more information, call Betty at (732) 493-0453.