FREEHOLD – Residents and property owners in Freehold Borough have selected three projects to receive municipal funding through the town’s the third annual participatory budgeting initiative.
There were 13 potential projects that could have been funded with an appropriation of $200,000 from the 2021 municipal budget. The projects that have been selected by voters to receive funding were the following:
• Extending the trail at Lake Topanemus Park from the bandstand to Pond Road;
• Install traffic light power generators at the Elks Point intersection; at the intersection of South and Main streets; and at the intersection of Main Street and Park Avenue;
• Install water bottle filling stations at Liberty Park and at Veterans Park.
The winning projects were announced by Carrie Conger, a member of the Participatory Budgeting Committee, during a Borough Council meeting on Oct. 4.
Residents age 14 and older and Freehold Borough business owners were permitted to select up to two projects they wanted to fund. The $200,000 appropriation from the municipal budget was prioritized toward the projects that received the most votes.
According to Conger, 323 individuals participated in this year’s program, which represents an increase from the 160 individuals who participated in the previous program.
• The project at Lake Topanemus Park will see a trail that runs behind the bandshell and ends at a gate extended to run behind a parking lot toward Pond Road and connect to a trail across from the parking lot. The estimated cost of the project is $32,000;
• The installation of traffic signal generators at Elks Point, at South and Main streets, and at Main Street and Park Avenue will relieve the Freehold Borough Police Department from having to allocate resources at those three locations when power is lost. The traffic signals will be powered by the generators. The estimated cost of the project is $32,000;
• The water bottle filling stations initiative will place two water bottle filling stations at Liberty Park and one water bottle filling station at Veterans Park. Each filling station will have a place for a dog water bowl and a fountain for humans. The estimated cost of the project is $14,700.
Mayor Kevin Kane, who had helped to present the concept of participatory budgeting to residents and business operators when he was a member of the Borough Council, thanked the members of the Participatory Budgeting Committee for their work.
He said other New Jersey municipalities are beginning to implement their own programs, including Asbury Park.
“We are being watched as far as what we do with participatory budgeting in Freehold Borough, to the point where I met with the leaders of Asbury Park a couple of weeks ago. There are a number of towns that are coming on board,” Kane said.