Never has access to outdoor recreation been more prized or more recognized for its part in maintaining physical — and mental — health. The pandemic has bestirred many of us to search among the more obscure reaches of the Garden State for breaths of fresh air in solitude. But not every resident can go on expeditions for recreation, putting a premium on local recreational access.
“Recognizing the critical importance of local recreation at this heightened time of need,” the Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services this week announced that applications are being accepted for a new grant program for counties, municipalities, and school districts. The Murphy administration has allocated $2.5 million to this competitive grant program; it’s for improvements and repair of public recreation facilities including local parks, municipal recreation centers, and local stadiums. It’s a modest-seeming sum in the context of our times and the vastly increased call on such facilities.
Grants will be awarded for updating community centers, playgrounds, pools, fields, walking or bicycle trails, rail trails, multi-sport courts, and recreational facilities; they will also be allowed for one-time personnel costs directly related to improvements, project development professional services costs, equipment costs including playground and recreation facilities equipment, and environmental remediation costs required to prepare recreation sites for use.
Applications are due no later than 5 p.m. on May 24, 2021. Program guidelines and detailed information about it are available at: www.nj.gov/dca/dlgs/programs/lriggrants.shtml.