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Big Plans For Monmouth Park [AUDIO]

Flickr User Linda Dougherty

Monmouth Park Race Track’s fate is safe at least for another year, and it’s home town of Oceanport is going to make sure it capitalizes to make it a tourist destination.

The state has agreed to oversee the track while it searches for a new bidder, but Oceanport Mayor Michael Mahon says the race track’s development has been planned for some time.

In 2009 the Monmouth Park Task Force was created by the Oceanport Mayor and Council, the goal of which was to “support horse racing.”

Mahon says the Task Force was working closely with real estate investor Morris Bailey before he pulled out of the lease agreement, planning to widen the track’s appeal and expand the non racing recreation options available.

Mahon notes that there are only anywhere from seventy to one hundred and forty one days of racing in a given year, so that means there’s lots of opportunity to expand the offerings which can help increase the bottom line.

“Considering Monmouth Park not only has the historic racing gem that it is. It also has an entertainment complex where you can make it a destination where it’s more than just one day as a stay. A hotel, a restaurant, retail, shops , conference space, and a small music pavilion and a festival area. All things that we currently do, but things we can do better.

There’s also been a push to start something Mahon calls “twilight racing” , which would schedule races after sundown that are illuminated by artificial lighting. He says the issue will be getting everything approved so it facilitates the races without creating a nuisance for town residents.

“We’ll be working on a lighting ordinance that would establish a framework of how that could take place and be friendly to the community in terms of light pollution and so on. ”

The Mayor hopes that by attracting people to Monmouth Park at night it can help further develop a nightlife in the area which has already been flourishing thanks to increased popularity of shore retail and dining hubs like Long Branch’s Pier Village.

“The demographic has changed that frequents the establishment that goes to horse racing and that visits the Jersey Shore. ”

Mahon hopes Oceanport and the Monmouth Park Race Track will become synonymous as that kind of attraction.

“We’re right near the water by Pier Village in Long Branch with the general attractiveness of the Jersey Shore for vacationers and day trippers, for us how do you fit into that equation?”

Mahon hopes the plans for revitalization will attract a new bidder, and he says with Morris Bailey and the State Sports Authority they kept an open line of communication, the same would be available for any new investor.

Though he acknowledges Oceanport is still a residential “bedroom community”, he hopes the initiatives with Monmouth Park will be something that benefits all parties involved.

“I think that’s what’s important and I think if we can balance that with the quality in life within the community then perhaps we have a win win. ”

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