I miss this park. It was closed all last year and it will be closed all of 2014 as well. Sandy's Legacy: Berkeley Island County Park Won't Fully Reopen Until 2015
By Patricia A. Miller
At first glance, it doesn't look like there's too much wrong with Berkeley Island County Park. The grass needs mowing, the buildings look at little battered.
But take a closer look. A good chunk of the road leading to the park is gone, gobbled up by Superstorm Sandy's surge nearly a year ago. The south side of the park has eroded and is covered with gravel from what used to be the parking lot. And it is still eroding.
Ask Ocean County Parks and Recreation Confidential Assistant Michael J. Fiure what his reaction was when he first saw the park two days later.
"I was speechless," Fiure said without hesitation. "I realized the strength of the store and how easily it just tore up concrete."
And for visitors who don't understand why they can't use the park yet, there's some very good reasons.
The park has a number of mini-sinkholes, sections of beach scoured by Sandy.
"The water was coming in so fast it created a whirlpool effect," Fiure said.
Whole sections of macadam walkway washed away during the storm. Beaches on both the northern and southern sides of the park continue to erode. The fishing pier needs repairs.
Ocean County has decided on a two-pronged approach to rebuilding the park off Brennan Concourse, both Fiure and Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. said.
The first step will be shoring up the eroding sections of beach and roadway. Ocean County already had a contract in place with Stephens Institute of Technology to design a "living shoreline," Fiure said.
The county plans to advertise requests for proposals for engineers to design the entire restabilization plan within the next 30 days, he said.
The erosion and roadway problems have to be taken care of first, before any improvements can be made to the park's infrastructure, Fiore said.
"Eventually if we do nothing, Berkeley Island park will be an island again," he said.
The storm surge tore off five feet chunks of a 20-foot swath of the roadway right near the 25-acre park's entrance and ripped up two utility light poles, which have never been found. All of the parking area on the right side of the park is "gone," he said.
The planking on the fishing dock will have to be replaced. But the bulkheads on the dock held up fairly well, Fiure said.
The second phase of the renovation will be the park's buildings and structures , which were already battered before Sandy roared onto the Jersey Shore last Oct. 29.
Surprisingly, the structures - the lifeguard building, bathrooms and a gazebo for picnics - held up during the storm, even though they are more than 30 years old, Fiure said.
But the park was due for a much-needed upgrade before Sandy. Bartlett has described the park as "tired."
Berkeley Island County Park juts out into Barnegat Bay, making it extremely vulnerable to Nor'easters, other storms and ice build-up, Fiure said.
So the gates to the park will remain locked, probably until 2015.
"Our goal is to have the park open and finished by 2015," he said. "If we can open up portions, we will do that. But we don't anticipate being open by 2014."
There is a small section of beach and shoreline right before the park's main entrance that people can use for now. There are no restrooms.
Fiure asks that visitors respect the locked gates and closed signs. A number of people drove up to the gates on a sunny Friday afternoon, hesitated, then turned around and drove away.http://berkeley-nj.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/sandys-legacy-berkeley-island-county-park-wont-fully-reopen-until-2015#