The 1970s

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  • East Freehold Showgrounds established. First 61 acres assigned to the Park System in 1970 from Monmouth County (who had purchased it). 
  • Pottery/Ceramics Program begins. Classes were held in the former “mash house” behind the 40-stall barn, a building formerly used to cook grains for the racehorses. Today, the program is held in the Creative Arts Center.

    Early Pottery Class


  • Outdoor Recreation Division formally established. Park System began coordinating a variety of canoe, camping, biking and backpacking programs in the parks, as well as canoe/white-water rafting trips and  ski trips in winter. 
  • Cultural Services/Performing Arts Division formally began with programs in theater, drama and the arts; as well as art/craft workshops .
  • County’s first Open Space Plan adopted. This document becomes the “driving force” behind the county’s land acquisitions. 


  • Hartshorne Woods Park established. The park “opened” almost immediately as existing, informal trails were used by public.  

    Tatum Park in 2007
  • Tatum Park established. Received gift of first 76 acres from Genevieve Hubbard Tatum in 1973 and purchased another 96 acres from Tatum family that same year.
  • Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook established. The Park System preserved a portion of this site by purchasing 8 acres in 1973.  Mount Mitchill was dedicated November 27, 1973. 
  • Shark River Golf Course established.  The 176-acre golf course property was acquired. The course was dedicated on August 7, 1973. 
  • Annual Park System attendance over 800,000; Howell Park Golf Course hosted over 35,000 golfers (1973 Annual Report)


   Recent image of the barns at Huber Woods Park



  • Sports & Fitness Division programs technically started in 1976 with square dances, movie nights, tennis lessons, archery, etc.  These offerings grew progressively more sports-oriented in the following years and the division was formally renamed.  
  •  “Volunteers-in-Parks” program launched.
  • 3,569 preserved county park acres; 1,152,361 program participants (1976 Annual Report)


   Deep Cut Gardens in 1981

  • Deep Cut Gardens established. Received gift of first 20 acres from Wihtol family estate in 1977;  purchased another 20 acres with Green Acres Funds. Deep Cut Gardens opened in 1978. 
  • Hominy Hill Golf Course established. Hominy Hill Golf Course was dedicated April 25, 1977. 

    Seagull at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park
  • Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park established.  The Park System entered into a use agreement with Long Branch to begin operating the beach in 1977. The Activity Center opened in1988. The Pavilion opened in 1984; the Skateplex opened in 2005.  
  • Therapeutic Recreation Department established as “Special Populations” and began offering recreation programs to individuals with disabilities and seniors.
  • First E. Murray Todd Half Marathon held.
  • Monmouth Conservation Foundation established.


  • Weltz Park established. Purchased first 114 acres of farmland with Green Acres funding. Park is undeveloped.
  • Clayton Park established. Purchased first 170 acres of farmland from Clayton family at below-market value with Green Acres funding.  The Clayton family donated another parcel in 1982. Clayton Park opened over a period of time as some of the land was leased to local farmers. Formally opens in 1995.