County officials this week formally opened the new Mantoloking Bridge County Park, a fishing and recreational area on the Brick side of the Mantoloking Bridge that will cater to anglers, crabbers and sightseers.
The park features a new, 70-foot-long fishing and crabbing pier, a boardwalk, picnic area, sun shade, gazebo and lighted paths. It also includes a connecting path that leads to a second, 152-foot-long fishing pier on the south side of the bridge which was made out of a portion of the previous span that was replaced in 2006.
Work on the park, which cost $1.4 million to build, began in May 2011. Visitors have been allowed inside the park for most of this summer, however its formal completion and opening occurred this week.
The park was busy Thursday, with plenty of locals crabbing, fishing and taking scenic photos with their cameras.
"This park will be great not only during the tourism season but also for our year-round residents," said Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari. "It combines a part of this county’s rich history and our bay heritage. It brings a number of recreational benefits to Brick Township, Mantoloking and the surrounding area."
The park will eventually be connected to the park that Brick Township is building at the site of the former Traders Cove Marina. That site should be ready next year, officials have said.
The county portion provides parking for 55 vehicles as well as restroom facilities.
The park is already proving popular with local anglers and crabbers, said Pete Ordeman, owner of Pell's Fish and Sport, a bait and tackle shop a few minutes up Mantoloking Road.
"People are already using it," he said. "It's becoming pretty popular."
Ordeman said Thursday that anglers are discovering the local population of snapper bluefish in the area. A few blowfish have been caught recently.
"The setting could not be better for visitors and citizens," said Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. "You can do so much here while enjoying Barnegat Bay, truly an environmental gem here in Ocean County."