By Elaine Van Develde
It wasn’t long after Fair Haven acquired the long-sought-after Robards/Williams waterfront estate for passive recreation that the borough got another grant to upgrade more pocket spots along the Navesink River.
The 2014 Monmouth County Open Space Grant of up to $250,000 in matching funds was awarded only a few weeks ago.
What it’s been designated to do is to “polish the diamond” that is the Fair Haven open space on the waterfront, Mayor Ben Lucarelli said.
“Now that we’ve acquired DeNormandie, cleaning up and maintaining the rest of the open waterfront spaces we have is the next logical step. If we don’t do it now, we’ll have real headaches down the road.”
The “polishing” the mayor referred to is, more specifically, “resloping of two riverbank pocket parks at the end of Hance Road and Grange Avenue, so that people can access them easier and enjoy them more” and the refurbishment of bulkheads and passive recreation enhancements, such as benches.
Similar work, without resloping, is planned for the swath of land known as the home of the River Rats at the foot of Battin Road.
“It will make all those areas more user friendly,” he added. “The focus on these areas, I think, is a good use of this grant money. People I’ve spoken with who live on the west side of town have felt as if they haven’t gotten the total benefit of these projects. Now they’ll have it and the feedback I’ve gotten is that they’re very happy about that.”
The process for implementation of the county open space grant will soon begin.
Lucarelli said that the design drawings will first be completed. Then the project will be put out to bid; and “we’ll see where the cost comes in.”
Up to $250,000 will or can be funded by the matching grant money. In other words, if the cost of the project comes in at $300,000, then the county will pay $150,000 and the borough will pay the other half, and so on.
Sometimes bonding is necessary, or as a show of good faith to the funding entity, to fund such a matching grant project and set it in motion and pay contractors while waiting for the funded portion of the money to come in. In those instances, with such grants, the town bonds for the entire projected cost of the project and is then reimbursed by the county, or whichever agency is allocating the funding.
However, the mayor doesn’t think this project will require bonding. More likely, he said, “we’ll just bid and, if there’s enough (allocated) in the (capital improvements section of the) budget, pay as we go.”
All 53 municipalities in the county are eligible for the annual open space grant, which is designed to encourage open space acquisition and preservation as well as park enhancements and facilities by offsetting costs of such purchases.