Making way for vet park
Chris Creighton of Navesink volunteers his time on Make A Difference Day on Saturday. DOUG HOOD/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Volunteers spend spare time clearing debris, trees
Asbury Park Press October 27, 2013
By Gina Columbus
NEPTUNE — Vietnam War veteran John Morris wore a spirited smile as he stood on the former Welsh Farm Dairy property off Old Corlies Avenue.
Here — with work under way Saturday on the township's new Veteran Memorial Park — veterans and those currently serving will have a touching place to call home and honor their fallen service members, Morris said.
"This project and the way it's set up, it's beautiful," said Morris, 65, a 40-year township resident. "This is the first time they've done this in Neptune, so this is great."
As part of the annual Make A Difference Day — the nation's largest day of volunteering — more than 100 volunteers from the Asbury Park Press, Coastal Habitat for Humanity, Neptune, Disabled American Veterans of New Jersey Chapter 85 and elsewhere cleared out the overgrown site with everything from rakes to weed whackers and hefty machinery.
|An artists rendering of the park lies on the ground where cleanup work was done on Saturday during Make A Difference Day. The Asbury Park Press, Coastal Habitat for Humanity and many other volunteers clean the grounds of the former Welsh's Farm Dairy on Old Corlies Avenue in preparation for the construction of a veteran memorial park. DOUG HOOD/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Saturday's project involved clearing the grounds of storm debris and excessive brush and trees to make way for the groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 11 —Veterans Day — when building will commence, said Ollie Lowery, Coastal Habitat for Humanity construction manager.
The passive park, which will honor all four services — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — will feature monuments, flags, trails, paths, flowers, shrubbery and a seating area.
Neptune Mayor Eric Houghtaling said the project symbolizes "a permanent place of honor for those who have sacrificed so much for us all." "Neptune Township is committed to try to repay that back," Houghtaling said. "We know we can never do it in a certain way, but what we can do is try to always remember the effort that they have put forth for us all." Ocean Township resident Jim Duncan, a member of DAV-NJ Chapter 85, is pleased the township is recognizing veterans.
|Maureen Mulligan of Coastal Habitat for Humanity thanks all the volunteers for showing up to help during Make A Difference Day. DOUG HOOD/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
"Just being a memorial ... that's the main thing, that's great," Duncan, 63, said. Gardening and cleanup tools for Saturday's project were donated by Down to Earth Landscaping of Jackson. A school bus filled with refreshments and a barbeque for volunteers also made its way to the site. "We've got half of it done already, and they thought it was going to take weeks to do this," said Maureen Mulligan, Coastal Habitat for Humanity executive director.
Township Committeeman Randy Bishop said the site, which is in one of the town's oldest sections, always has been a part of Neptune's history. "And to take it from ground that had become tainted and overgrown, to have that vision to make it a place of honor for those who served our country from our township, is a tremendous thing," Bishop said. Officials said the project will be ongoing and they could not estimate a completion date; many of its features are expected to be purchased through fundraising.