Skate Park Sought; Seniors Feel Neglected; Town to Undergo Clean Energy Audit

By Victoria Ford | Sep 25, 2019
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill The skate park being filled in on May 22, 2007

Stafford Township — Stafford Township officials heard a plea from skate advocate Frank Cannavo of Lally Lane to bring a skate park facility back to the town. He has support in the form of nearly 1,300 signatures on a petition, from residents of Stafford and elsewhere.

Mayor Greg Myhre said the council has talked about unearthing the old skate park in Ocean Acres that was filled in about 13 years ago, but it is wary of the many risks and liabilities associated with a skate park and would need to evaluate the condition of the concrete after being buried for so many years.

“The Romans built concrete structures, too,” Cannavo said.

Myhre continued to list the council’s reservations – a lot of budget priorities, public works is already very busy, etc. “We’ll see what fits into the schedule,” he said.

Cannavo pressed. “Most big towns around here already have skate parks,” he said, adding Stafford has a big surfing community that would also benefit from a safe, sanctioned facility for the popular crossover sport of skating.

Township Administrator Matthew von der Hayden said a park could cost between $800,000 to $1.5 million. Soon an internal committee will be working on a 10-year capital plan, during which process a capital budget workshop will offer the public an opportunity to weigh in.

Cannavo said local businesses are willing to contribute and help fund it when the time comes.

The topic is not new. According to a petition on the Jetty Rock Foundation created in 2013, the previous park was shut down around 2006: “Stafford Township officials made the decision to semi-permanently close the skate park located in Nautilus Park. Instead of filling in the all-concrete park with soil, which would have most likely compromised the park’s integrity, it was filled in with gravel and simply topped off with soil.”

In light of the drug overdose epidemic in Ocean County, “as a community we feel now is the time to help our area’s at-risk youth and young adults by reopening the Nautilus Skate Park. The new community of skate enthusiasts treat all of the other area skate parks and facilities with respect and appreciation.”

Supporters feel the skate park would be a positive force in the lives of local youth and prevent drug use and vandalism, while promoting health and small business.

In his online petition, Cannavo points out skating will make its Olympic debut next year; a local park would be respectfully maintained by its users and enjoyed by full-time and seasonal residents as well as vacationers.

In other news, Stafford is moving forward in its efforts to achieve its Sustainable Jersey Certification in 2020, in part by forming a Green Team Advisory Committee, comprised of environmental commission members, residents and township staff.

As Councilman George Williams explained in his monthly report, Sustainable Jersey is a nonprofit organization that “provides tools, training and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability programs,” e.g. ways to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

The township has applied for New Jersey Clean Energy’s Local Government Energy Audit, a free program that provides a comprehensive audit of facilities to make recommendations on how to improve energy efficiency.

Councilman Michael Pfancook said DPW has been diligently working to manage and improve the flow of floodwater throughout the town: repairing and cleaning drains; cutting away some curbing at the end of the Neptune basin to help create a spillway; mowing all the basins; and clearing debris and sand buildup from a channel that runs between Route 72 and the outflow pipe at the Neptune basin.

In response to the mayor’s announcement that poll workers are needed for the general election on Nov. 5, Joe Mazzola of Galley Avenue, as an advocate for the senior population in the community, said the $200 pay for poll workers is “a joke” given the time commitment (a 15- to 17-hour day) and physical labor involved in working the polling places. The machines are too heavy for seniors to wheel around. The election supply bags are also heavy and need to be picked up and dropped off elsewhere. And the pay is better in Monmouth and counties farther north.

In general, Mazzola said, he is concerned about the difficulty he faces in getting help from the town to protect seniors from scams and other threats. They make up a quarter of the town’s population, they vote, “and they’re not getting nothing back, not getting any justice,” he said. “That’s telling me, the seniors, nobody’s worried about them.”

The mayor said those concerns would be taken to heart and more discussion would be had. As liaison to the senior advisory committee, Councilman Paul Krier said several events are planned at the community centers to spread awareness about senior scams.

— Victoria Ford

The skate park as it looked in May 2007 after it was filled it. (File Photo by: Ryan Morrill)
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