Ocean County Press Release
BERKELEY TOWNSHIP – The rebuilding of the John C. Bartlett Jr. County Park at Berkeley Island at first came with more questions than answers.
The 25 acre spit of land that juts out into Barnegat Bay at the end of the township's Brennan Concourse had seen its share of destruction and devastation caused by nature.
Nor'easters battered the shoreline and made it more and more vulnerable with each passing storm. And then came Superstorm Sandy in October of 2012 and while some may have thought that would be the last straw other's began to see the opportunity that ultimately would breathe new life into the ailing park.
"Ocean County never gave up on this park," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines, chairwoman of Parks and Recreation. "This park meant so much to so many of our residents we always knew how important it was to not only put it back together but to do so in such a way that it was stronger and better than before."
And so, with the combined talent of the park staff, architects, engineers and contractors, the park was rebuilt and reopened to the public in May 2018.
The work has resulted in numerous awards highlighting Ocean County's innovative and unique approach to protecting a fragile shoreline all while returning a host of amenities to park visitors.
"I am very proud of all the effort that went into rebuilding this park and to the pioneering approach that will allow it to function for years to come," Haines said. "I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the driving force behind rebuilding and returning this park back to our residents and visitors.
"Without Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr's vision and firm belief that this park was priceless in so many ways, the current discussion may be different," Haines said. "He would have been so proud of this recognition."
Engineers from T&M Associates and Barlo & Associates designed the park redevelopment and buildings, strengthening them to withstand future storms.
The park has been recognized with the American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey (ACEC-NJ) Grand Honor Award in the Non-Transportation Category. The ACEC-NJ Engineering Excellence Awards recognizes and honors consulting engineering firms whose efforts demonstrate both superior skill and the highest degree of creativity. The recipient firms exhibit true excellence in the profession and the projects honored have a significant impact on the public.
In addition, the park project garnered the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) National Recognition Award, which is a prestigious distinction honoring projects that represent exceptional achievement in engineering and that have earned top awards for excellence in their state.
Also, the John C. Bartlett Jr. County Park at Berkeley Island won the Engineering News Record (ENR) - New York's regional Best Project in the Small Project category.
The ENR Regional Best Projects Award recognizes the best projects from New York and New Jersey along with the companies/teams that designed and built them. The judging criteria includes safety, innovation, quality, functionality, aesthetic and teamwork. With the regional award, the project was automatically submitted for consideration at the national level.
All new amenities were designed for the park including everything from gazebos, bathrooms, a large covered pavilion with a brick faced charcoal grill, to the County's first spray park. The 100-foot fishing/crabbing pier was also reconstructed with all new decking and barrier free compliant railings. All the new amenities are fully ADA compliant.
"All of this improved the function, aesthetics and recreational opportunities available at the park," Haines said.
The awards also recognize the County's use of a living shoreline at the park. These engineered shorelines incorporate an innovative technique that mimics natural conditions by using nature's own time-tested examples along with a small component of engineered structures like breakwaters and shoals. The result is a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly shoreline. The most obvious benefit is a beautiful shoreline with native plants; but the ecological benefits include the creation of habitats for shellfish, fish, birds, and mammals. Living shorelines also improve the water quality by capturing runoff and providing for beneficial bacteria and other organisms. The long-term benefits include a stable, resilient shoreline that can withstand and recover from future storms.
After the living shoreline plantings were installed, it was noted that the plantings were attracting native birds, resulting in an extensive application of goose fencing to surround these areas. The work was accomplished with the help of the local Boy Scouts, who mobilized a team to install the fencing which kept the new plantings from being eaten by the local wildlife.
"We are already seeing the benefits of this living shoreline," Haines said. "Ocean County is proud to be a leader in this innovative pilot project and process which will help refine a set of guidelines for future shoreline stabilization projects."