mc planning merit awards

mc planning merit awardsPHOTO: 2017 Planning Merit Award Recipients

FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Planning Board presented four organizations with their 2017 Planning Merit Award at their Dec. 18 meeting. 

“All of the honorees this year have made significant contributions to the County as a whole,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Planning Board. “Through partnerships, improvements and redevelopments, each of those recognized by the Planning Board are working toward keeping Monmouth County the place you want to be.”

The 2017 Merit Awards were presented to:


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  • Marina Grill, of Belmar, for Economic Development and Public-Private Partnership. The project is located at the base of the Shark River Bridge, on public land.  The Borough of Belmar entered into a long term land lease agreement with a local experienced restaurant operator.  In addition to the direct financial benefits to the Borough of Belmar in the form of leasehold revenue, the project has been a catalyst for economic development in the area, and has been termed the “Gateway to Belmar.”
  • Veteran’s Memorial Park Improvements, of Aberdeen, for Recreation. A significantly underutilized 5-acre passive and active recreation facility located on the Raritan Bay waterfront was substantially improved, promoting preservation of natural resources and public land for conservation and recreational uses.  Added features include: playgrounds, water spray park, gazebo, restrooms, multi-purpose field, natural boat launch, picnic grove, and an expanded parking lot.  The site was also raised in key spots to avoid regular flooding and landscaping added consisting of hardy native plantings, able to survive in harsh, seasonal waterfront conditions.
  • Ocean Avenue Streetscape Improvements Project, of Sea Bright, for Adaptive Reuse/Redevelopment, Economic Development, Placemaking, Resiliency, Transportation Services/Projects. The streetscape project, the first of several post-Sandy downtown improvement projects in storm-ravaged Sea Bright, has brought walkability, access, and aesthetics back to the downtown area.  The project was funded by a grant from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, and developed with the cooperative help of the Sea Bright Streetscape Committee, consisting of Borough officials, residents, and business owners.  Components of the project include new concrete sidewalks, curb bump-outs at intersections, additional crosswalks, ADA compliant ramps, new benches and trash receptacles, decorative street lights, landscaping and street trees, and way-finding signage.
  • Bell Works, of Holmdel, for Economic Development, Adaptive Reuse/Redevelopment, Placemaking, Planning Innovation. The former Bell Laboratories historic site has become the new Bell Works mixed-use campus, incorporating office/work space, restaurants and retail, nature trails, child care, indoor and outdoor sports complex and fitness facility, healthcare facilities, hotel and conference center, event space, green roof, a public library, 185 active-adult luxury townhouses, and 40 luxury estate homes.  Bell Works has attracted many tech companies as tenants and is being called “one of the coolest places to work in the state”.  Bell Works is an outstanding example of successful economic development through redevelopment of vacant infrastructure and cooperative and innovative local planning principles.

“Every year, the Planning Board receives numerous Merit Award applications for projects, plans and programs and it is difficult task to narrow down the selection,” said Freeholder Serena DiMaso, Esq., a freeholder representative on the County’s Planning Board. “Each of the applicants are deserving of awards and we thank all of you for your contributions to planning in Monmouth County.”

Established in 1984, the Monmouth County Planning Board’s Planning Merit Award Program recognizes those plans, projects, programs, individuals, municipalities, businesses, community leaders, and stakeholder organizations that have made a significant contribution to the advancement of planning and planning outcomes in Monmouth County.

The purpose of the Planning Merit Award is not only to recognize and honor exceptional examples of planning in Monmouth County, but to inspire others to pursue the same level of planning achievement and excellence.

For more information, visit the Monmouth County Division of Planning section of the Monmouth County website at or call 732-431-7460.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...