How did you end up working in Oceanport?
Joanne Hunt, Oceanport's parks and recreation committee coordinator, says that taking over the position in February was a natural progression in her long career as a "parks and rec professional." She worked for a dozen years for the county parks system, which she proudly calls a "premiere agency," and has taught at Rutgers for over 20 years. She's also worked for the Middletown Township Parks and Recreation Committee and with the rec folks in Eatontown as a consultant, writing grants for programs that accommodate the disabled.
So when her mentor Jim Foligno, who she met while working at the county park system, called last year to tell her he was retiring as Oceanport's rec coordinator, she jumped at the chance to apply.
What's the best thing about working for the borough?
Hunt, who lives in Tinton Falls, says that that her committee is made up of "innovative, progressive, roll-up-your sleeves" people who "embrace small-town rec."
She also has found the borough council to be supportive of the committee's efforts and see it as a way to improve quality of life for residents.
What programs is the committee thinking about adding to its calendar?
Hunt says the success last summer of the movies in the park showing of The Incredibles at Blackberry Bay has prompted the committee to look to add at least three or four movie nights next summer.
The parks and rec committee has created a survey for residents to chime in on what events they are interested in seeing in town, says Hunt. Some ideas include:
- bocce tournament
- borough pool party
- volleyball tournament
- scavenger hunt
- chili cook off
- daddy/daughter and mother/son event
What improvements are scheduled for borough parks?
Maintaining the borough's parks needs to be done "in a very logical way," says Hunt, because the biggest challenge is funding improvements. To combat that, the committee needs to "aggressively apply" for grants and open space money. She says the committee reviews the 10-year plan to make sure they are on track for maintaining parks facilites. Next up: which Hunt calls a "traditional pocket park" that is tucked into a neighborhood and residents can walk to.
What are your goals for the parks and rec committee?
Three years from now, Hunt says her goals are:
- to provide a year-round calendar of events
- many more parks redeveloped
- new solid plan for the next 10 years for parks redevelopment
Providing residents affordable events that maintain the small-town feel is what Hunt hopes to achieve in her role for Oceanport. "It's very much a give-and-take," she says between the rec committee and all of the other civic organizations in town. "The goa is the same for everybody: to make Oceanport a great place."