Local officials celebrated the grand opening of the Robert ¨Ockie¨ Wisting Recreation Complex with a ribbon cutting Tuesday, October 17. The event was a milestone for the community project, which resulted from the collaborative efforts of Middle Township officials, the state of New Jersey, the County of Cape May, Cape Express Soccer Club, the Cape May County Disc Golf Association and the Mid-Jersey Cape Rotary.
¨We are here today because of lot of dedicated people worked hard not only to create this complex, but to encourage the spirit of community such a facility builds,” said Mayor Michael Clark. The center will be open to the public from dawn to dusk.
Grants to purchase the property came from the State of New Jersey’s Green Acres program. The improvements were funded in part by a grant by the County Open Space Program. Cape Express will invest $1 million to build the soccer fields, and the Disc Golf Association funded the course. The Rotary funded the gazebo.
The 82-acre Ockie Wisting facility is located at 7 Fulling Mill Road, Rio Grande, the site of the former Fort Apache campground. It features a wildlife observation deck, boardwalk and fishing pier at the pond area; a gazebo, picnic area, playground, walking trails, fitness stations and a stage for acoustic performances.
The complex also boasts a regulation size disc golf course and soccer fields, both funded through public-private partnerships with the Cape May County Disc Golf Association and Cape Express Soccer. The soccer fields are expected to be completed soon.
The new center is named in honor of longtime volunteer firefighter Robert ¨Ockie¨ Wisting, who answered more than 3,600 emergency calls during his 51 years of service with the Rio Grande Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, Station 72. A World War II Army veteran, Wisting served the fire company as chief and many other roles including engineer, lieutenant, captain, safety officer and training officer. He died in 2006 at the age of 77.
The Wisting complex is the largest piece of open space the township owns. The Townshipś other recreational complexes include the 65-acre Clarence and Georgiana Davies Sports Complex in Goshen and the 7-acre Martin Luther King Center in Whitesboro. For more information on the Township’s recreation facilities, call (609) 465-8743.