Cox House, Skate Park Ordinances Adopted in Barnegat

Sep 13, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill The Cox House

An ordinance adopted by the Barnegat Township Committee Sept. 5 authorizes the historic Cox House to be re-transferred to Ocean County. According to the ordinance, the township acquired the deed for the 19th-century landmark from the Ocean County freeholders in 1985 to be “utilized forever for historical and recreation purposes.”

The ordinance also points out the original agreement had a “reverter clause,” which read as follows: “The lands herein described are being conveyed specifically for use for public purposes of the Township of Barnegat. In the event that the lands hereby conveyed shall cease to be used for the aforementioned purposes, same shall revert to the County of Ocean, its successors and assigns.”

As a result, the ordinance says, “the township finds it prudent and in the best interests of the taxpayers and the residents of the township to re-convey the property to the county so that the county can make the Cox House part of its parks and recreation inventory.”  

Located at the intersection of West Bay Avenue and Route 9, the landmark has served as a meeting place for the Barnegat Historical Society and the Barnegat Garden Club among other local organizations, and has been used for special events such as a spring tea and a holiday meet and greet with Santa Claus.

“We’re not expecting that to change, at least for the balance of the year,” said Mayor Albert Bille. 

A study performed by Margaret Westfield, an architect specializing in historic preservation, said the original portion of the house, including the rear kitchen area and second-floor bedrooms, was built around 1825. The house’s main feature, the large front rooms, date back to 1854, when they were constructed by Capt. William Cox.

Township Administrator Martin Lisella said that within the past five years, the township has spent $50,000 for various rehabilitation projects, including $27,000 for roof repairs.

“The county has much better resources than us to maintain these historic homes, and they often need a lot of work,” he said.

Ocean County Administrator Carl W. Block said the county has not yet made any specific plans as to the future use of the Cox House.

“But we will certainly do whatever we can to make sure it retains its historic character,” he said.

When the ordinance was introduced last month, Cindy Janowiak, who is president of the Cox House Committee, said she was disappointed that Barnegat officials did not inform her of their plan to turn it over to the county. She then requested a special meeting with the township, which was held late in August.

“After that meeting, the consensus with the Cox House Committee was that the county had better financial means at its disposal to maintain the house. I just hope that organizations who have used the Cox House for meetings and fundraising purposes will still be able to do so.”

Another ordinance adopted by the committee authorizes the creation of a skate park, which will be located  at the site of the old one in the municipal complex. That facility closed six years ago after officials determined it was deteriorating and had become unsafe for use. The new one will be composed of concrete, while the former was constructed of wood.

According to the ordinance, the park will be open from 9 a.m. until dusk. It will be unsupervised, so skateboarders will use it at their own risk.

“During inclement weather, the skate park shall be closed,” the ordinance says. “There is no use when the equipment is wet or icy.”

The park requires all users to wear helmets, and the use of other safety equipment, such as knee and elbow pads, is recommended. Food and drink are prohibited except for bottled water.

“Use of drugs, alcohol, smoking, profanity and/or vandalism is prohibited and shall result in automatic and permanent expulsion,” the ordinance says.

The original park opened in 1999, and several times was temporarily closed for repairs or as a result of vandalism. At the time of the park’s closure, the township prioritized improvements to the Lower Shore recreation area before it rebuilt the skate park. Then after Superstorm Sandy, the town had the additional task of having the municipal dock rebuilt.

Bille said he hoped the new park would be open by this weekend.

“Construction is complete,” he said. “Once it gets inspected by an insurance company and they say we can open, then we’ll do it.”

— Eric Englund

The new Barnegat Skate Park (Photo by: Ryan Morrill)
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