8th Street Park Improvement Plan (Freedom Park)

Freedom Park Opening Day - Oct. 28, 2023

Freedom Park Grand Opening Photo - Oct. 28 2023

At the Oct.28, 2023 Freedom Park Groundbreaking, from left: Township Administrator Robert Bengivenga; Deputy Mayor Peter Terranova; Committeeman Michael Glackin; Committeeman Robert Preston; T&M Engineering Project Manager Dennis Dayback; Hazlet Mayor Michael Sachs; (Absent: Committeeman James Cavuto.)

Freedom Park Opens

Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023 was a great day in Hazlet Township! It was the long-anticipated grand opening of all-new Freedom Park at 140 Eighth Street, at Brown Avenue. Residents of all ages came to try out the innovative playground equipment with a soft falling surface, to stroll around the perimeter of the park on the paved walking path, to shoot baskets on the new court and try pickleball on the multipurpose court. 

Mayor Michael Sachs, who played in this park as a child, applauded its transformation as a place for people of all abilities. In his remarks, he thanked those who helped guide the project: the Township Committee from 2022 to the present; former Mayor Tara Clark who initiated the project, and the local residents' group that gave design input; Monmouth County Commissioners, who approved an Open Space Grant; the Hazlet Township Open Space Advisory Council, Hazlet Recreation and the VFW. The park was named Freedom Park to honor Hazlet veterans who originally created a ballfield at the site, many years ago. VFW Hall 4303 is nearby, on Davern Ave. 

Park Features Slideshow

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Groundbreaking Ceremony

On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, officials broke ground on the $1.5 million revitalization of 8th Street Park in the West Keansburg section of Hazlet Township.

The project includes the construction of an inclusive playground, an all-purpose court, a basketball court, walking path, benches, trees and more parking to provide visitors with improved access to the 3.75 acre park. 

Construction of the park is expected to be completed by September. In attendance at the groundbreaking were members of the Hazlet Township Committee and representatives of the Dept. of Public Works, Recreation, Open Space Advisory Council and Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners.  

Freedom Park Groundbreaking - April 25, 2023

Freedom Park GroundBreaking - April  25 2023

At the April 25, 2023 Freedom Park Groundbreaking, from left: Hazlet Open Space Advisory Council Chairman Joe Pobega; Hazlet Mayor Michael Sachs; Deputy Mayor Peter Terranova; Committeeman Michael Glackin; Committeeman Robert Preston; Committeeman James Cavuto; Township Administrator Robert Bengivenga; and Monmouth County Commissioner Sue Kiley.

“Across Hazlet, we’re working to bring new life to our parks and recreation centers for Hazlet residents, and 8th Street Park will be the latest, but not the last project we undertake,” said Township Administrator Robert Bengivenga. “Located within walking distance of the Henry Hudson Trail, this transformative project will construct an exciting playground for all children, playing surfaces for different sports and a walking path and benches, providing West Keansburg residents a vibrant place to meet and play. Hazlet is grateful to Monmouth County Commissioners for selecting our plan for a matching Open Space Grant providing $250,000 toward this project, and to the NJ DEP for awarding us a $600,000 low interest rate Green Acres Loan.”

“During the pandemic, we learned how important our parks are to our well-being, and increasing public access to parks was a key motivation behind this project,” said Mayor Michael Sachs. “Turning this underutilized site into a new park, playground and exercise path will bring joy to residents and help us move toward a vision of creating continuous corridors of open space through our township.”

"The groundbreaking is an exciting moment for Hazlet Township,” said Joseph Pobega, chairman of the Hazlet Open Space Advisory Council. “The rehabilitated park will be an excellent asset to the neighborhood and brings us closer to achieving key goals in the Hazlet 2030 Vision Plan (PDF): to link parks and provide opportunities for public enjoyment through active and passive recreation. Much of the cost for this park are being paid for by the Hazlet Township Open Space Trust Fund which allows for improvements to open space.”

“We are grateful to the Monmouth County Parks Commissioners for awarding Hazlet the Municipal Open Space Grant and thank the township’s Open Space Advisory Council for their work in making this project happen,” said Deputy Mayor Peter Terranova. “I also wish to thank the countless Hazlet citizens who gave input. We could not have done it without them.”

The transformation of 8th Street Park builds on the goals of the Monmouth County Municipal Park Improvement Grant Program to develop expand and improve recreation opportunities, especially in overburdened communities. 

The plan was developed with community support from West Keansburg neighborhood stakeholders through visioning sessions. Township children were surveyed about their preference on playground features.

 A $1.5 million bond ordinance to provide financing for the construction of the park was approved in July, 2022 by Hazlet’s government. 

T&M Engineering is overseeing the construction of the park, which will be completed by September, 2023. 

Hazlet Township 8th Street Park

Progress Summary


2023

  • Freedom Park Grand Opening Oct. 28, 2023! The township park is now open dawn to dusk, every day.
  • A ceremonial ground-breaking is held at 8th Street Park on April 25. Construction estimated to continue until September. 
  • Township announces 8th Park will close for renovations until further notice beginning Monday, April 24, 2023.
  • Bid awarded to Shore Top Construction Corp. for $790,400. Nine bids were received. (Resolution 23-78, February 14, 2023)
  • T&M Associates is authorized to conduct soil borings for Eighth Street Park and prepare rig and soil reports in an amount not to exceed $5,000. (Resolution 23-56, January 24, 2023)
  • Hazlet Township puts project out to bid, with responses due February 7,  2023. The scope of work includes the rehabilitation of the existing playground and basketball court, installation of a perimeter walking trail, installation of a multi-purpose court, installation of a new irrigation system, landscaping, lighting, drainage improvements and various park amenities. Interested bidders must contact T&M Associates. (January 13, 2023, Asbury Park Press)

2022

  • The Hazlet Township Committee approved the payment of $141,560 to T & M Engineering for design and construction services of the park. (Resolution 220). 
    At the meeting, former mayor Tara Clark was authorized by the mayor to work with T&M Engineers and the original West Keansburg neighborhood committee to give input on the park design.
  • A $1.5 million Bond Ordinance to provide financing for the construction of the park was approved at the July 12, 2022 Township Committee meeting. 
  • The Township Committee passes resolution May 3, 2022 to accept Monmouth County Open Space grant (Resolution 141) and says it intends to accept the NJ DEP Green Acres Loan.
  • Environmental Study completed by Township Engineer and approved by the state, April 2022.

2021 

  • Awarded $600,000 NJ DEP Green Acres Loan (2% low interest)
  • Awarded $250,000 Monmouth County Open Space Grant
  • Engineering concept plan produced June 2021. Reviewed by stakeholders, revised by Sept.
  • Visioning sessions at 8th Street Park with neighbors, elected officials, township engineer, and representatives of Open Space and Recreation groups, May - August 2021


8th Street Playground Meeting

On October 14, 2022, the 8th Street Park Core Committee met at Hazlet VFW Post 4303. From left: Jason Cinquegrana, Jennifer Brennan, Cliff Moore, Andy Brennan, Donna Wendland, Tara Clark. The group also includes John Powers, who was absent.

Playground Design - 8th Street Park

Core Team Evaluates Playground Design
September 23, 2022

Eighth Street Park’s Core Team and Hazlet Township Committeeman Peter Terranova met at Holmdel’s Allocco Park. The team is beginning work on Eighth Street Park’s playground design, with a focus on inclusivity. They evaluated a wide variety of playground features including swings, slides, and climbers, as well as ADA accessible merry-go-rounds. 

The team is assessing the best playground surfaces to install. They plan to maximize steel construction to ensure long-term durability and to make the playground resistant to vandalism. The Core team also discussed multi-purpose court designs, and other features including community-friendly lighting, multi-generational benches, and possibly incorporating senior citizen elements.

8th Street Park Community Meeting
August 30, 2022
Over 70 people attended an information session about coming plans to renovate 8th Street Park in the West Keansburg section of town. Project leader Tara Clark and T & M Project Manager Dennis Dayback described major features envisioned for the park like a walking path, pavilion, popular playground equipment and multipurpose courts. Hazlet Police Lt. Detective Kevin Geoghan was on hand to respond to questions about security. Township Committee members were also in attendance to support the initiative. The event was hosted at the West Keansburg Fire Co. reception hall.

Community Meeting August 30, 2022

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Creating a Dream Playground & Park in Hazlet
The Hazlet Township Committee's exciting plan to transform the 8th Street Park into a valued community park for the entire town continues to move forward. 

Community Information MeetingAll are invited to a Community Information Meeting hosted at the West Keansburg Firehouse, 91 Eighth St. Learn about the concept plan, talk to engineers, offer input and view the park site on Tuesday, August 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tara Clark, the township's former mayor, continues to spearhead this project. On August 10 she sought the advice of playground experts at Hazlet Summer Recreation Camp. Clark read kids inspiring true story about a girl who helped design a playground in her community, then gave the children the challenge of helping design the future play space for 8th Street Park.

The children shared what they love most about playgrounds they have visited and gave invaluable feedback on structures like saucer swings, wavy slides, spinners, and rope towers. They were excited to hear that their suggestions would be shared with community members, town engineers, and Hazlet's governing body and they could create a dream playground of their own.

Experts Weigh In on Playground Features

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8th Street Park Concept Moves Into Design Phase
July 12, 2022

The Hazlet Township Committee voted July 12 to approve a $1.5 million bond ordinance to provide financing for the  improvement of 8th Street Park, allowing the project to move into the design phase.

The governing body also authorized $141,560 to spent on an engineering design. Mayor Michael Sachs invited former Mayor Tara Clark to organize neighborhood input for the design for the township engineer. 

"It's one of the most exciting things that have happened in town for decades, and I think the people of the town will be so appreciative, not just the people of West Keansburg," said Clark, after thanking the Committee for passing the bond. 

$1.5 Million Bond Ordinance Introduced; 
Hearing Date July 12
June 21, 2022

The Hazlet Township Committee agreed at its June 21, 2022 meeting to introduce a $1.5 million bond ordinance for improvements to Eighth Street Park and authorize the issuance of $1 million in bonds or notes for the financing part of the appropriation.

The amount includes the sum of $250,000 expected to be received as a Monmouth County Open Space Grant and $250,000 as the down payment required by NJ Local Bond Law to be provided by the Open Space fund. 

To finance the cost of the Improvements not covered by application of the Down Payment, negotiable bonds of the Township would be authorized to be issued in the principal amount of $1 million. 

A public hearing is scheduled for the Township Committee's 8 pm meeting of July 12, 2022 at Hazlet Town Hall.

Grant Agreement Approved
May 4, 2022
The Township Committee voted to execute the 2021 Monmouth County Open Space Grant Agreement for the North Hazlet Community Park, aka 8th Street Park, Project #21-20. 

Plan Advances for 8th Street Park Improvements
April 21, 2022

The Township Committee is another step closer towards its goal to completely renovate 8th Street Park in West Keansburg.

Last year, the township learned it won public funding for proposed improvements at the 3.75-acre public park at 8th Street and Brown Avenue. The project plan , created with community stakeholders, includes new playgrounds, a walkway, lighting, parking improvements, a pavilion, fencing, security system and landscaping for an estimated cost of $1.2 million.

8th Street Park aerialAt Tuesday’s Township Committee meeting, Mayor Michael Sachs announced the township was informed it would soon be receiving a 20-year low interest NJDEP Green Acres Program loan of $600,000, following action by the state Legislature and Governor.

“We are moving forward with this project," Sachs said. "We have just been notified within the last 48 hours that the Green Acres funding is now available for us to apply for. So, we’re in the process now of doing the paperwork and then it will go out to bid.”

Also, in recent weeks, the township received the agreement paperwork from the Monmouth County Municipal Open Space Program. In December, Hazlet Township won a competitive $250,000 matching grant from the county. The Township's matching portion will come from the Hazlet Township Open Space Trust Fund, thereby providing a total of $500,000 towards the renovation of North Hazlet Community Park, also known as the 8th Street Park.

Upon project completion, Monmouth County Municipal Open Space Program will reimburse Hazlet with the $250,000 grant award. 

Mayor Sachs explained the project would not be done in pieces or scaled back.

Both programs require the completion of a survey report known as a Preliminary Assessment and Site Inspection (PASI). Earlier this month, the Township Committee received the required T&M Engineering report, which will be submitted with the funding agreements.

West Keansburg Outreach -August 2021

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On August 7, 2021, members of the Township Committee, Recreation Department and Public Information Office set up a tent at a neighborhood block party on Central Avenue. The purpose was to gather feedback for the concept plan for the nearby 8th Street Park. Residents looked at the map, talked about their wants and needs, and offered comments on accessibility and links to the popular Henry Hudson Trail transportation trail. 

West Keansburg Outreach - May 15, 2021

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On May 15, 2021, Mayor Tara Clark called up on neighborhood residents to talk about improving 8th Street Park. They had a candid discussion about what they liked about the park and what they did not. The group gave their thoughts on what amenities they would like to have, and gave feedback on lighting, security and noise. 
Attending the listening session was Deputy Mayor Mike Glackin, liaison to the Recreation Advisory Committee; Recreation Director Chris McManus; Township Engineer Project Manager Dennis Dayback; Open Space Advisory Council Vice Chairwoman Annie Eng and Chairman Joe Pobega; and Christina Johnson, Public Information Office. 

8th-Street-Park-Concept-Plan

8th Street Park Concept Plan  You can download or enlarge this image.

Letter to Residents

June 17, 2021

Dear Residents of the West Keansburg section of Hazlet Township,

Hazlet Township is pleased to announce that there is now a plan in place to make substantial improvements to 8th Street Park, located at the corner of 8th Street & Brown Avenue. The Township recognizes that this park is outdated and underutilized in a section of town that does not have other recreational spaces for residents. The entire park is located within a 100-year flood zone. Maintaining this area as open space is beneficial for floodwater storage as well as reducing risks to life and property during flood events in this section of town.

The vision for this proposed project has been shaped by input from the community and will include ADA-compliant playground equipment, basketball courts, shaded picnic tables, a pavilion for activities such as group classes and music performances, an open field for sports and events and walking/jogging track along the periphery of the park. Safety improvements will be included such as updated lighting, a security system and a reconfigured safer parking area. (See the plan on the flip side of this page.)

The Hazlet Recreation Department cordially invites you, and your family, friends and neighbors to our first outdoor concert at 8th Street Park on Thursday, July 8th. The new Hazlet Pops community band will play a Broadway-themed program with over 50 musicians. The band is under the direction Raymond Lahaye, the leader of the Raritan High School Marching Band. The music starts at 7 pm. After the concert we will show the film Mamma Mia! on the big screen under the stars. Please bring a chair or blanket to watch. The Hazlet Pops will be playing every Thursday night around town for the month of July. For a full list of events, go to www.HazletTwp.org/Recreation

As a West Keansburg native myself, I am happy to see improvements at the 8th Street Park and I am excited to bring more Recreation Dept. events to this side of the town. 

Please feel free to reach out to the Recreation Office at 732-217-8648 or via email if you have any questions. 

Sincerely,  

Christopher McManus
Hazlet Recreation Director