FUN PLACE: Little Egg Harbor Township’s Edward Thornton Community Center will get improvements through a state grant.

The N.J. Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services has announced the award of $10 million in Local Recreation Improvement Grants to counties, municipalities and school districts across New Jersey to ensure public access to quality outdoor recreation and community resources. The grants were awarded to 162 local governments after a competitive application process.

Locally, Little Egg Harbor Township was awarded $75,000; Stafford Township, $80,000 and Surf City, $40,000. Little Egg intends to use the funds to repave the basketball courts at the community center and for other improvements at the center; Stafford for playground equipment at Manahawkin Lake Park and Surf City for playground equipment.

“DCA is proud to assist local governments in repairing and upgrading their parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities into spaces that promote people’s physical and mental well-being,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA commissioner. “A big part of what makes a community healthy and vibrant is giving residents the opportunity to take a walk, play a game and participate in sports and other activities with friends and neighbors in a safe and accessible place.”

Grant recipients will use the funding to help cover costs associated with updating community centers, playgrounds, pools, fields, walking or bicycle trails, rail trails, multi-sport courts and recreational facilities. The grants can also be utilized for one-time personnel costs directly related to improvements; project development professional services costs; equipment costs including playground and recreation facilities equipment; environmental remediation costs required to prepare recreation sites for use; and staff training costs.

“The Division of Local Government Services developed this program, in part, to provide quality outdoor recreational space for the residents of underserved communities,” said DLGS Director Jacquelyn Suárez. “This need has been especially heightened over the last couple of years as people searched for outdoor spaces to help alleviate the significant stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic.”  —P.J.

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