The past half-year has been trying for all of us who love DeKorte Park.
Late last October, Superstorm Sandy walloped our region and knocked the park for a loop, wrecking boardwalks, destroying trails and causing extensive electrical damage.
I am happy to report that after an unprecedented repair effort – including cleanups by volunteers — the park is now open again to the public, free of charge, seven days a week.
The recovery efforts have been difficult and expensive, but they have been fruitful. Our gardens are in bloom, and our wonderful butterflies are returning.
Iridescent blue tree swallows are nesting throughout the park, and majestic ospreys, which catch fish in the park’s tidal impoundments, are nesting again nearby. Many trails have reopened. Our educational programming is moving full steam ahead, and our observatory is open for free viewing by the public every Monday and Wednesday night.
The rest of the column, and a status report on our trails, follow.
Returning all of the park’s trails and boardwalks to full strength will still take considerable time and money, but a majority of trails and a section of our boardwalk along the Shorebird Pool have reopened already.
We encourage you to visit soon and see for yourself how the park has rebounded. All that we ask, for your own safety, is to obey all park rules and trail signs and to stay away from fenced-off areas.
Here’s the status of our trails and boardwalks:
* The mile-long Transco Trail, which suffered extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy, is now open for its entire length — from the AMVETS Carillon on Disposal Road all the way to the Western Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike.
* The Lyndhurst Nature Reserve Trail, which goes from the Administration Building parking lot to the Saw Mill Creek Trail, is scheduled to reopen by June 1.
* The Kingsland Overlook and the Shorewalk have been open since November’s clean-up efforts. The Overlook is a great place to look for warblers and orioles these days, and you can see several varieties of shorebirds along the Shorewalk.
* The Marsh Discovery Trail, which saw significant damage, will not re-open in its entirety for the foreseeable future. The one bit of good news is that the portion of the boardwalk adjacent to the Transco Trail is open again. That section had been rebuilt 18 months ago after an earlier storm, and it survived Superstorm Sandy.
* The Saw Mill Creek Trail, which runs from the AMVETS Carillon toward the 1-E Landfill, has suffered from severe erosion from recent storms and will likely remain closed pending major construction by PSE&G along its trail-side right-of-way.
* The short boardwalk and pergola from the Shorewalk to the Marshview Pavilion – severely damaged by Sandy – will remain closed indefinitely.
Sorry for any inconvenience caused by these storm-related repairs – we hope to see you in the park again soon.