Mt. Laurel Township prepares for $200,000 grant from county’s Municipal Park Development Program

Burlington County Freeholders approved a total of $4.98 million in grants for municipalities in the county in October.

Mt. Laurel Township Council has approved a resolution preparing for $200,000 of special revenue to be added to the township’s budget as a result of Burlington County choosing the township as a recipient in the county’s 2016 Municipal Park Development Program.

Burlington County freeholders approved the grant at a meeting in late October, along with other grants totaling $4.98 million across 33 municipalities in the county.

Each of the 40 municipalities in Burlington County is eligible to apply for the grants every year in amounts up to $250,000, and municipalities can then use the money to develop and improve their parks for passive and active recreation.

Now in year seven of the program, the county has awarded almost $35 million to its municipalities, with funds coming from the county’s Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

Mt. Laurel officials said the township plans to use this year’s $200,000 grant for improvements at Devonshire Park along Marne Highway.

Mt. Laurel Council approved its resolution to prepare for the funds at its meeting last week.

Under the rules of the grant, the township was not required to share in any of the cost of the grant or match any funds.

However, the township is required to use the funding for “hard costs,” such as the repair of facilities or construction. Grants cannot be used for costs such as ongoing maintenance or the purchase of equipment.

Acting township manager Meredith Tomczyk said the township was looking at replacing roller hockey rinks at Devonshire Park with a new arena for futsal — a variant of soccer played on a hard court smaller than the sport’s normal field.

Tomczyk said the township would also be using the funds to redo the basketball court at the park.

“We’re just trying to improve the recreation uses,” Tomczyk said.

Deputy Mayor Rich Van Noord also thanked Tomczyk and township staff for the successful grant award.

“I’m very thankful to see that we actually got $200,000 this year for Devonshire. Well done,” Van Noord said.

In a press release announcing the grants last month, Burlington County Freeholder Linda Hughes described the Municipal Park Development Program as a “perfect example” of how the county and its local municipalities can work together to share services and improve parks, while also preserving open space.

“It has always been a goal of the Freeholder Board to preserve open space to provide both passive and active recreational opportunities for our residents … while the Municipal Park Development Program allows our municipalities to focus on active recreation facilities,” Hughes said. “We have seen many worthwhile projects come to fruition through this program and look forward to the improvements this year’s funding will provide.”

For more information about the Burlington County Municipal Park Development Program, visit the county’s website at www.co.burlington.nj.us.