State Recreation Grant Eyed to Offset Value of Court docket Repairs

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(Photo by Jack Reynolds)

The winter blues, which usually follow the rush of the holiday season, could sidestep Surf City County by introducing the ability to pay taxes online and, just as important, learn if the county is getting any government funding to put the pickleball courts in of the city to repair.

At its December 14 meeting, the Council approved the submission of a FY2023 Local Recreation Improvement Grant for the Pickleball/Tennis Court Area. County officials said they should know in the first quarter of the new year if they will receive the funding.

In October, the council unanimously approved funds to improve the city’s pickleball courts. The $220,000 bond order provides $125,000 for the pickleball/tennis court area, allowing for the overlay of four pickleball courts and one tennis court at the existing North First Street location.

An additional $40,000 is earmarked for playground equipment at Richard A. Zachariae Park under the NJ Department of Community Affairs grant program. The $35,000 allocated to the district’s Gator program is part of the Community Development Block Grants fund. The remaining $20,000 was included for incidental expenses that may be incurred for one of the recreational projects. If the funds are not used, the monies would be returned to the community when the bond is called.

Over the summer, a group of local pickleball players petitioned officials to improve courts around town and came back to the September council meeting with an estimate of about $65,000.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy has earmarked $25 million in the 2023 state budget for the improvement and repair of public recreational facilities, according to the NJ Department of Community Affairs. The grant is administered by the Division of Local Government Services, which falls under the DCA.

The maximum cap of $100,000 is the rule of thumb, although bonuses in excess of this may be approved where justified and based on program demand.

The grant may be used for new and existing projects, but duplication of grant funds is not permitted, meaning other grant funds cannot be used in conjunction with the funds to improve local recreation, according to the DCA.

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of having access to safe and quality outdoor recreational and community resources for people’s mental and physical health,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “That’s why the Murphy Administration continues to provide funding for the Local Recreation Improvement Grant Program. We know that recreational spaces are not a luxury, but essential to people’s well-being.”

The grant is awarded to applicants to help cover costs associated with upgrading community centers, playgrounds, swimming pools, fields, hiking or biking trails, railroad tracks, multi-sports fields and recreational facilities, according to the DCA. Funds can also be used to offset one-off staff costs directly related to improvements; cost of professional services in project development; equipment costs including equipment for playgrounds and recreational facilities; and environmental remediation costs required to prepare recreational areas for use.

Applicants can be counties, municipalities and school districts. Application deadline is January 20th.

— Gina G. Scala

[email protected]