MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, it put some kinds of fun on hold — along with the construction projects that facilitate fun, such as the Rio Grande Park upgrades.
But after months of delays, the project is back on track and the park will be ready for a grand opening in October.
Visitors can look forward to basketball courts, multi-use courts for tennis and pickleball, and the township’s first dog park. A large shaded area with seating and a gazebo will be the central feature of the park. And while the space was planned long before the arrival of social distancing, wide-open lawn areas will certainly allow visitors to spread out.
The Rio Grande Park, on Railroad Avenue along the countywide bike path, supports cycling with a bike repair station — shaded under a second gazebo — and bike racks. The recreation haven also will provide ample parking for those who drive to the path and bring their bikes. And there’s a water fountain where cyclists can fill their water bottles.
“We are happy to be able to continue forward progress on these important infrastructure improvements and the Rio Grande Park,” Mayor Tim Donohue said. “These are challenging times, but we are committed to keeping the promises we have made to our residents, while continuing to deliver quality municipal services.”
A $1.29 million grant from the Cape May County Open Space Program funded the expansion of the Rio Grande Park.
Another summertime project is planned to help township residents get around better by foot.
The Hand Avenue sidewalk extension will extend the paved area from Wynndemere Court to Boyd Street.
“A lot of people use the sidewalk, especially older people,” said Vince Orlando, the engineer on the project, which is expected to begin this month and take about 30 days to complete. “It’s important to have sidewalk access, especially in the center of town.”
The New Jersey Department of Transportation is providing funding for the Hand Avenue project.
Middle Township also has awarded engineering contracts for four road and drainage projects as part of the township’s Capital Improvement Plan for 2020:
• Carter Road bulkhead repair/drainage and road reconstruction project
• Birch, Avocado, Aspen and Coconut road reconstruction project
• Teal Road: Stormwater regularly creates flooding on the street and adjacent properties. To resolve the issue, the intersection of Teal and Holly roads will be regraded and reshaped, and storm drainage will be installed.
• East Wildwood and Central avenues: These roads, built in the late 1970s to the early 1980s, are due for improvement. The work will include pavement milling and concrete repairs where needed. The project will begin at the intersection of East Wildwood Avenue and Bayberry Road (Golf Club Road), and continues about 3,000 feet to Central Avenue and Bayberry Road.
Construction on both the Teal Road and East Wildwood and Central avenues projects is expected to begin in October and wrap up by December.