Brick officials are seeking additional grant funding to complete the long-planned renovation of Mallard Point Park in the southernmost portion of the township, though the permitting process – now under federal review – is continuing to hamper progress.
Last week, the township council voted unanimously to seek $712,500 in funding from the state’s Green Acres program to complete the park renovation, which will include new amenities as well as a breakwater to prevent erosion and a small “living shoreline” to protect the surrounding environment. The park is located off Tunes Brook Drive, along the Tunes Brook branch of Kettle Creek, which separates Brick and Toms River.
The project would serve as the second example of an ambitious effort on the part of officials to protect the shoreline along the creek and improve the aquatic environment through a new breakwater and engineered shoreline restoration design that will support plant and marine life. Though the project has been in the cards for several years, it has never gotten underway due to a lengthy state environmental permitting process, despite the fact that another park – Bay Harbor Park, also on Kettle Creek – served as a pilot and has been a resounding success.
The state has since granted approval for the project to move forward, but the federal government – by way of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – also needs to sign off on the plan.
In October 2023, the township retained engineering firm CME Associates to secure the permits needed for improvements to the park, said township Business Administrator Joanne Bergin.
“They have obtained the permit from the NJDEP for the proposed work but have not yet obtained the permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers,” Bergin said. “They went through several iterations of revisions with the USACE and have not been able to receive approval for the work due to the perceived impact to tidal and intertidal areas for the proposed rock groins.”
Bergin said the township anticipates that “several more iterations” will be required due to the proposed groins. Due to the uncertainty of the federal permitting process, she said it would not be prudent to announce a potential timeline as to when approvals will be granted or when work would begin.
The enabling agreement passed by the council last week will allow the township to receive state funding through the Green Acres program, which would cover the bulk of the project’s estimated $1 million cost.
Bergin has previouslty said current plans for park amenities include areas for fishing, kayaking and crabbing, as well as a “tot lot” play area for small children. Officials will also review the condition of an aging, small dock at the site to see if it should be removed or replaced.