Allentown residents may offer suggestions for Ashby Park

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ALLENTOWN – The Sgt. George Ashby Park Committee is inviting Allentown residents to offer their ideas for the design of the borough’s new Ashby Park.

Ashby Park will be developed on a tract that is bordered by Main, Church, Broad and Hamilton streets.

Allentown officials purchased  3 acres formerly known as the Wilbert property for the proposed Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park in December 2016 for $250,000.

The borough received a $125,000 grant from Monmouth County Open Space Program and a $25,000 grant from Monmouth Conservation Foundation toward the purchase.

Two meetings have been scheduled to give residents a chance to familiarize themselves with plans for the park. The meetings will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 and 7 p.m. April 3 at the Allentown United Methodist Church, 23 Church St.

Municipal officials said the proposed park is dedicated to Ashby, who was the last remaining New Jersey Civil War Veteran when he died in 1946 at the age of 102.

Ashby was a free black man who volunteered to join the Union Army at the age of 19. He fought in numerous battles and received a promotion for gallant and meritorious service. Ashby was discharged in November 1865 and eventually moved to a residence on Pearl Street in Allentown.

Borough officials said the goal is to develop the 3-acre parcel as a passive park using grant funding. Grant applications require design concept documents that have been produced by a landscape architect. Residents are now being asked to provide input into the park’s development.