SEA BRIGHT: JUST ABOUT READY FOR SUMMER

sb parking 052014The newly rebuilt municipal parking lot, sans the public library that once sat in its midst, as seen earlier this week. Below, the new ramp over the sea wall under construction at Anchorage Beach last week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sb restrooms 051414A vexing shortage of parking in downtown Sea Bright is slated to ease with the unofficial start of summer Friday.

With merchants hoping the second summer after Hurricane Sandy is better than the first, part of the newly rebuilt municipal parking lot was expected to be open in time for the Memorial Day weekend, borough Engineer Jacki Flor told redbankgreen Thursday.

Beachgoers and locals will also find new amenities at the oceanside edge of the lot, including temporary restrooms, rentable lockers and a library-in-a-trailer, to replace the library structure that was abruptly demolished to make room for more parking in January.

Local store and restaurant owners have been anxious about the lot’s closure in recent months, concerned that a shortage of parking wasn’t helping the fragile recovery from Sandy, which knocked every business in town offline, and a wet summer of 2013.

“The parking lot is a big factor” in the effort to attract and lock in the affection of visitors, said Alice Gaffney, owner of the 10-month-old Alice’s Kitchen, on Ocean Avenue. “This was a very tough winter, even for businesses that have been here forever,” and not to have the parking on nice days is frustrating, she said.

Friday’s opening, however, was dependent on weather that would allow for striping, Flor said.

Meantime, the Peninsula House portion of the lot, named for the fondly remembered hotel that burned down there in 1986, is still under construction, Flor said, but will be ready for parking by May 31. The following week, it will be closed for five days to allow for the pouring of concrete aprons before reopening for good.

The two lots will give the town combined 472 parking spots, up 17 from the prior configuration.

But while visitors to the nearby Anchorage Beach will find a sturdy new ramp over the sea wall, replacing a rickety staircase, they won’t get to use a spanking new restroom that had been expected. The completion date is now expected to be June 19. In the interim, 43 parking space, or about three-quarters the potential number, will be available, said Flor.

“Everything’s coming together all at one time for the Memorial Day holiday,” Flor said. “By the time the kids are out for the summer, we’ll have everything ready.”

Still in the works is the purchase and installation of lighting fixtures for the parking lots, she said.