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Fighting For Open Space

Paul Jeffrey OBVTA President (Thomas Mongelli, Townsquare Media)

A group of Ortley Beach residents are asking the Ocean County Freeholders to help acquire land from the Ocean County Utility Authority public use land.Members of the Ortley Beach Voter & Taxpayer Association, a group representing 500 families and businesses in the community, went before members of the freeholder board Wednesday, asking for a resolution to acquire a piece of the OCUA’s land.

“We don’t need the entire five and half acres, we want at least part of it to become open green space where we can throw a ball, kick a soccer ball, play with a dog, whatever; we need that open space,” said Paul Jeffrey, President of the Association.

Freeholder John Bartlett said they received a resolution from Toms River Township asking for the OCUA to give any unused land to the municipality, something Bartlett thought was very ‘odd’.

“The OCUA couldn’t possibly do that, they bought the land for $13 million dollars almost forty years ago. That’s bought with rate payers money which also include ratepayers form southern Monmouth County.”

While plans for a makeshift sitting park on the properties North side were once discussed, Bartlett said the pump station collects effluent from all across the barrier island and the property would be needed if and when pipe repairs and maintenance need to be performed.

“They will need staging areas from which to realign or replace those pipes, that will need take place from both side of the bay and the only place for them to work on the north side is the OCUA plant.”

However Jeffery said that shouldn’t be a problem.

“We know as well it was used for emergency use during Sandy, we’re not suggesting that couldn’t happen. It could be still used for emergencies.”

Bartlett said Toms River Township in recent years worked out a deal with the OCUA to have municipal employees park on the property, he suggested a similar plan for creating the park.

“I would be happy on behalf of the board to contact the OCUA to see if that option is available, but that would have to go along with an agreement with Toms River.

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