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Public hearing to be held on Field of Dreams ordinance

Members of the Toms River Township Council have voted to hold a public hearing on Jan. 23 regarding an ordinance that will, if adopted, advance the community’s Field of Dreams project.

On Jan. 3 at the council’s annual reorganization meeting, Council President George Wittmann, Council Vice President Maurice Hill, Councilwoman Laurie Huryk, Councilman Brian Kubiel, Councilwoman Maria Maruca, Councilman Daniel Rodrick and Councilman Terrance Turnbach voted “yes” to introduce the ordinance and hold a public hearing.

The Field of Dreams project will encompass 3.4 acres of Bey Lea Park on North Bay Avenue. Municipal officials plan to construct a recreational facility that will accommodate individuals who have special needs and disabilities. Plans call for a baseball field, a basketball court, a playground and miniature golf.

“This ordinance is the next step in the Field of Dreams becoming a reality. This ordinance provided the property upon which the project will be built and made the Field of Dreams a sub-recipient of Green Acres funding the township is applying for to aid in building it,” Huryk said.

She said the project is inspiring for many reasons.

“As with all children, special needs children want to play, but may face physical limitations when visiting other parks. This park will have the equipment and staff necessary to facilitate the freedom to play. I anticipate that providing this type of healthy environment will have a very positive impact on the community,” Huryk said.

She said the ordinance is a step in the process to ensure legal and compliant use of the property, and to align funding sources for the project.

“The lease agreement is for $1 per year with the initial term being for 24 years,” Huryk said.

The Field of Dreams project was proposed to the council in mid-2017.

“The township then initiated the change in use procedure and held a public hearing on Feb. 15, 2018. Following the hearing, the process of obtaining the appropriate federal, state, county and local permissions was initiated. On Dec. 5, 2018, the Planning Board approved this project as being consistent with the township’s master plan, and that brings us to this ordinance,” Huryk said.

The Township Council will next meet at 6 p.m. on Jan. 23.

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