Long Branch applies for grant funds for new park

$159K sought in Green Acres funds for Troutman’s Greenway

Staff Writer

 The city is seeking open space funds to create Troutman’s Greenway, a passive park along Troutman’s Creek. The city is seeking open space funds to create Troutman’s Greenway, a passive park along Troutman’s Creek. LONG BRANCH — City officials are hoping a GreenAcres grant is the final piece in turning a vacant 2.5-acre parcel of land along Troutman’s Creek into a park.

The City Council held a public hearing and approved a grant application for the Troutman’s Greenway, located on the banks of Troutman’s Creek on Atlantic Avenue, during the Feb. 14 meeting.

If successful, the grant application could net the city $159,000 to put toward the passive park.

Before approving the application, the city discussed the park at the council’s workshop meeting, where John Maczuga, planning division manager for T&M Associates, said the state Department of Environmental Protection-administered Green Acres grant would be added to a county grant that is already in pocket.

“The purpose tonight of the hearing is solely a requirement of the Green Acres program,” he said. “The city has already received a grant from the Monmouth County Open Space Trust Fund in the amount of $208,000.

“We have been authorized by the city to submit an application, and we are proposing an application of $159,900 to offset the cost of development of the park,” he added.

Maczuga said the county grant could not be used for soft costs and that only a portion of the GreenAcres grant could be used for engineering work.

He also said that it would likely cost the city $22,900 to pay for professional costs if the Green Acres application is successful.

According to Michele Bernich, liaison to the city’s Green Team environmental committee, the Green Acres grant could cover up to $124,000 in soft costs.

Bernich said in an email that the total cost of the park is projected as $336,000 and the city applied for the maximum grant from the Green Acres program.

If awarded the full amount, she said, it would put them over the projected cost of the park, but any extra funds would be put toward overruns on the park that is scheduled for construction in 2013.

Green Team member Chris Benosky explained during the public hearing what the design of the 2.5-acre park would entail.

“The main feature of the park is the restoration of this greenway close to the center of the park,” he said. “We are also proposing a series of trails and some fishing access to the bulkhead.”

Benosky went on to say that the design also includes native grasses along the creek to help alleviate the large number of geese that congregate in the area, as well as the restoration and replacement of portions of the bulkhead.

Some of the other features proposed for the park include a bridge, shade tree plantings and park benches.

Bernich said the design plans for the park have not been finalized.

“This is a concept plan and we already received funding, and when we start with the designs, we will get into the specifics,” she said.

Thomas Stone, one of three residents to speak during the public hearing, was concerned that the park would bring traffic and crowds impacting the adjacent neighborhoods.

Mayor Adam Schneider compared the park to Jackson Woods, another passive park in the city, and said that it wouldn’t bring in a large crowd.

“It’s supposed to be a green area, it doesn’t tend to attract crowds,” he said. “Frankly, the people who are going to benefit the most are you and your neighbors.

“You have something nice that you know will never be developed, you’ll never see a house on it,” he added. “There might be more fishermen.”

Maczuga credited the city’s Green Team and Long Branch Environmental Commission for the GreenAcres application, which was due Feb. 15 for the current round of funding.

“Michele and Chris did a great job putting this together,” he said. “The whole concept is there, and the Green Team put us in the position where the grant application is virtually complete.

“They did a tremendous job in conjunction with the environmental commission in developing a concept for the park.”

Maczuga said that Green Acres officials would likely decide on the application sometime between July and September.