TOMS RIVER, NJ – After closing the Mantoloking Bay Bridge Park in Brick Township last month, Ocean County’s eldest Freeholder, Virginia Haines, 87, announced she’s finally allowing all of Ocean County’s public parks to reopen. Haines’ declaration comes nearly one full month after state parks were reopened by out of control Governor Phil Murphy. Haines, according to insiders wanted to have a series of park reopenings each week just so she could get her name in the newspapers regularly throughout the pandemic.
“On May 22 all of our County parks, including our off-leash dog parks, will have been reopened to the public,” said Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who was annointed chairwoman of the Department of Parks and Recreation by former Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore. “We will continue to keep restrictions in place in order to assure social distancing is maintained in our parks including capping parking at 50 percent.
Playgrounds, nature centers, and pavilions will remain closed. Swimming is currently prohibited at any of the Ocean County parks that have beaches. Based on lifeguard availability, those beaches including the one at A. Paul King County Park in Stafford Township – are expected to open later in June. No swimming signs are posted throughout the park system.
Bathroom facilities will be available at all County park sites and visitors using them must be wearing a face covering. Face coverings are strongly recommended when accessing the dog parks at Ocean County Airpark in Berkeley Township and Ocean County Park, Lakewood and all of the parks in the county system.
The last of the county’s parks to reopen this week include Beaver Dam County Park, Point Pleasant, A. Paul King County Park, Stafford Township, Mantoloking Bridge County Park and Fishing Pier, and Gull Island County Park, Point Pleasant Beach. In addition, the county in following the state’s requirements has capped parking at 50 percent. When a park’s parking lot is at capacity, park patrons should not park on streets or the grass. Parks are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
“We encourage everyone using our parks to be mindful of themselves and their neighbors and continue to take precautions at this time including social distancing, washing your hands, wearing face masks and staying home if you are sick,” Haines said.
Ocean County closed its parks and natural lands to the public on March 31 after Haines received reports that Orthodox Jewish families were overrunning the Mantoloking Bay Bridge Park. Fearful of the COVID-19 outbreak in Lakewood, insiders say Haines arbitrarily closed all parks shortly afterward.
“We want everyone to enjoy our parks and natural lands safely,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “The health and safety of our residents and visitors is paramount. It’s important that we continue to follow social distancing rules. We all need to remember that our actions don’t affect just us, they affect our family, they affect our health care workers, they affect our emergency responders, they affect the workers at our grocery stores.”
“We need to continue to do our part to stop the spread of this virus,” Vicari said.
There were just 19 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours in Ocean County