Marine Park to get new, accessible restrooms

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

RED BANK — The borough plans to have new restroom facilities in place at Marine Park by next summer.

The Borough Council recently passed a resolution authorizing a $25,000 grant agreement between the borough and the state Department of Environmental Protection with the funds earmarked for the construction of new restroom facilities at Marine Park.

Currently, a permanent restroom facility is in use mainly by people playing on the tennis courts. For the last several years, there has been a portable facility in the park accessible to individuals with handicaps.

Councilman Arthur Murphy, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said the current restrooms at the park are in such a state of disrepair that, rather than renovate them, the town has opted to tear them down.

The new restrooms must, by law, be compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The borough engineers have recently started drafting plans to make Count Basie Fields ADA compliant, and the grant for Marine Park will be another step in making the borough welcoming to those with disabilities, he said.

The borough has had legal troubles as a result of not being compliant with the ADA. In July 2000, the borough lost a lawsuit brought by a group called the Equalizers, which is an advocacy group for people with disabilities.

According to Murphy, the decision not to renovate existing restrooms to make them compliant with the ADA is based on the fact that they are below the mean high tide line, which is one of the factors that has caused much

The total cost of demolition and new materials is estimated at $105,000. Since the grant will cover less than one quarter of that, the borough had to find a source for the extra funding.

According to borough Chief Financial Officer Bruce Loversidge, the borough received a capital lease through the Monmouth County Improvement Authority and has excess funds from the lease that have not been used. The remaining $74,000 has been earmarked for the Marine Park restroom project.

Since the MCIA funds are meant to fund the purchase of products, usually equipment such as borough vehicles, the borough has decided to purchase a prefabricated restroom facility.

The remaining $6,000 or so that has not been appropriated from any source may have to be covered by the taxpayers, but that, Murphy said, should not be a problem.

"If we have to trim from the project, I think we can do that," said Murphy.

According to Murphy, there are other renovations he would like to see undertaken at the park.

"I’d love to do something with the tennis court and with the playground," he said.

Murphy said Marine Park improvements will begin once upgrades to the Count Basie Park fields are completed.

"We have to take care of our parks," said Murphy. "They’re part of our infrastructure in the town."