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Allentown council prepares to seek bids for next phase of Ashby Park project

ALLENTOWN – The members of the Allentown Borough Council were expected to consider taking action on a resolution to solicit bids for Phase II work related to the development of Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park when they met on Feb. 8.

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

Borough Administrator and Municipal Clerk Laurie Roth told the Examiner the council was expected to have a resolution on its Feb. 8 agenda authorizing E&LP Associates, which is helping to develop Ashby Park, to go out to bid for Phase II of the project.

“Phase II of Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park focuses on establishing a native wildflower meadow in the northern portion of the site,” said Ed Confair, the senior program manager at E&LP Associates.

“A brick paver seating area will be nestled within the meadow and serve as the home for the future Sgt. George Ashby monument in the park.

“In addition to the monument and meadow areas, a seating area under a grove of trees, park benches and two rain gardens will be added to the park,” Confair said.

Allentown officials previously said they would seek funding from Monmouth County for the Phase II work. Municipal officials have said the cost to develop Ashby Park could approach $1.2 million.

On Sept. 8, 2020, Borough Council members awarded a $210,681 contract to Deer Carcass Removal Service, Cream Ridge, for Phase I work at Ashby Park.

Work in Phase I included the installation of a permeable asphalt path, the installation of a crushed stone path, the removal of a timber wall, the installation of brick and granite pavers, the installation of curbs and sidewalks at the Hamilton Street and Broad Street park entrances, and the installation of trees near the pathways.

Roth said that during Phase I, Allentown’s Department of Public Works employees removed a tree that was damaged by beetles, installed temporary signs, installed fencing at the Broad Street entrance and planted trees along the property line on Broad Street.

Borough 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.

Allentown 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 is being developed as Sgt. George Ashby Memorial Park.

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.

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