Allentown council awards contract for first phase of work at Ashby Park

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ALLENTOWN – A company from nearby Cream Ridge has been awarded a contract to perform the first phase of development at the planned Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park in Allentown.

On June 9, council members authorized the firm E&LP Associates, which has been working with borough officials to develop Ashby Park, to seek bids from contractors for the Phase I development of the park.

The property where Ashby Park will be developed is bounded by Hamilton, Broad and North Main streets, and is situated behind the Allentown United Methodist Church property.

On Sept. 8, Borough Council members voted unanimously to award a $210,681 contract to Deer Carcass Removal Service, LLC, of Cream Ridge, for the Phase I work.

“The work in Phase I will consist of grading the site, installing the pathways and entrances from Hamilton and Broad streets, the removal of hazardous trees and the planting of trees,” council President Rob Strovinsky said. “We will hopefully get started on the work within a month.”

In August, council members authorized E&LP Associates to complete a Monmouth County municipal open space grant application. The application is due on Sept. 17, according to a resolution. Allentown officials are seeking funding for the Phase II development of Ashby Park.

Allison Arnone, who chairs the Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park Committee, has said the cost to develop the park could approach $1.2 million.

Allentown officials purchased the 3-acre tract in 2016 for $250,000. The Monmouth County Open Space Program contributed $125,000 toward the purchase and the Monmouth Conservation Foundation contributed $25,000.

The borough later received a Monmouth County Municipal Open Space grant in the amount of $125,000 to assist in the development of Ashby Park.

According to the website findagrave.com, George Ashby died at his home in Allentown on April 26, 1946, at age 102. At the time of his death, Ashby was the last remaining New Jersey Civil War veteran.

Ashby is buried in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) cemetery on Hamilton Street, which is adjacent to the land that will be developed as a park and bear his name.

Municipal officials have said that in addition to Ashby, there are other African American soldiers from Allentown who served in the Civil War who are buried in the AME cemetery.