Camp Albocondo on the Toms River Corridor Now Protected

November 21, 2014
Ocean County

The Trust for Public Land, Toms River Township and Ocean County announced today the permanent protection of the 58-acre former Camp Albocondo property along the Toms River, north of Winding River Park. This future parkland will protect water quality and provide residents in this busy section of Toms River Township with natural land instead of the 155 residences that had once been proposed for the property.

Situated on the banks of the Toms River, the permanent protection of Camp Albocondo's forests and wetlands ensures that the property will continue to provide flood protection for the surrounding community and will extend a greenway of conserved natural land along the Toms River corridor. The Toms River is vital to the health of the Barnegat Bay, as it contributes approximately 25% of the Bay's fresh water.

"Located right off of busy county road Rt. 571, this purchase will enable the Township to add space to the adjacent Winding River Park," stated Toms River Township Mayor Tom Kelaher. "In the future, we may add some new types of recreational activity, but that funding is still years away," he added.

"The protection of Camp Albocondo is part of The Trust for Public Land's longstanding effort to protect the health of the Barnegat Bay through the acquisition of land within the watershed," said Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land's New Jersey state director. "One of the most effective ways to protect Barnegat Bay is to conserve sensitive lands within the watershed. And by conserving land along the Toms River we are also helping to create more climate-resilient communities."

In February 2013, The Trust for Public Land purchased the property from a land developer for $4.1 million to prevent the former private campground from going into foreclosure and potentially sold for residential development. In the ensuing year, Toms River Township accepted comments at public meetings and ultimately committed to purchasing the property for conservation and park use. At the recommendation of the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Committee, The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders later agreed to join Toms River Township by authorizing $1.9 million in funding to acquire approximately half the site while Toms River Township used $2.2 million from their dedicated Open Space Trust Fund to acquire their portion of the property. In December 2013, during the review process for the County and Township acquisition, the New Jersey Green Acres Program certified an appraisal valuing the property at $5.29 million.

"Protecting and preserving Barnegat Bay is a priority for the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders and this acquisition helps those efforts," said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund. "This property meets the criteria of the county's Natural Lands Program allowing us to protect and preserve property that is environmentally sensitive and rich in natural resources."