BELMAR, NJ — While widely known for its beach, boardwalk and marina, Belmar’s other gems of open space are its parks. And to help ensure their future as part of this mix of recreational resources, the borough is looking to establish a parks commission.

The Belmar Council has introduced an ordinance to create the five-member group that would serve in an advisory capacity to the governing body, in an effort to create and maintain a “balanced park system.”

A public hearing and final vote on the measure has been rescheduled for the council's November 20 regular meeting. It had been on the November 7 agenda.

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Councilman Mark Levis has led the effort to create the all-volunteer commission, “which will allow residents to have a greater say in how our parks and playgrounds are utilized,” he said, adding that it would be similar to the borough’s current Belmar Harbor Commission or Environmental Commission.

Under the proposed measure, the parks commission would offer recommendations on park-related plans, projects and improvements, including proposing capital projects to be considered by the council at budget time each year.

During discussion of the proposed commission, Councilman Mark Walsifer suggested that the group's proposals for capital projects first be reviewed by the borough business administrator and public works director before advancing to the council. He also would like to see the advisory group develop one-, three- and five-year capital improvement plans so that goals are kept in line with realistic expectations.

Continued improvements to Belmar’s parks and playgrounds have been a major initiative since 2017, when the governing body earmarked $1 million in its budget for these projects.

During the past six years, the borough has created or improved many of its playgrounds, including five along its 1.3-mile beachfront, as well as new play areas at the corner of 15th Avenue and E Street and another at C Street and Eighth Avenue overlooking Silver Lake.

Belmar has five major parks: Maclearie Park along the Shark River; Ferruggario Park around Silver Lake; Memorial Field, home of the Doughboy monument on West Railroad Avenue; Three-Acre Park on Main Street, where Monument Row is situated; and Dempsey Park on 16th Avenue that currently includes a skate park and basketball courts. In addition, smaller “pocket parks” are scattered throughout the borough.

The borough council is also in the process of establishing a tree and bench memorial dedication program at its parks. It has asked the N.J. Division of Local Government Services to approve its request to launch the donor-funded initiative.

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