First came the battle over bricks versus concrete sidewalks. Then there was the paving job that had to be redone because the street was almost as high as the tops of the curbs.


Now, storekeepers along River Road in Fair Haven are furious that materials used in the downtown streetscape makeover project are hogging primo parking spots at what should be the busiest time of year, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

They took their complaints to the Borough Council last night. From the story:

“There is no parking. December is when we make our money,” said Vicki Heard, owner of Flair Cleaners on River Road. “It’s gone on all summer and all fall. Our businesses have been disrupted beyond belief.”

The latest issue arose from contractors leaving equipment, vehicles and building materials in parking spaces on River and Fair Haven roads as workers installed brick sidewalks at Memorial Park and wiring for street lights.

On Friday, Heard said, she and other business people couldn’t get into their stores. Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge saw the situation on his way to work, stopped and had equipment moved from some of the parking spaces, said her husband, Dennis Heard.

In March, the council awarded a $515,713 construction contract to Earle Asphalt for the project to rebuild and, in some places, widen downtown sidewalks on a five-block section of River Road. The project also calls for the installation of antique-looking streetlights and a matching traffic signal at Fair Haven and River roads.

The borough received two grants that were used for the streetscape project.

The project hit a bump in the road in early November, when new pavement on River Road was too thick at the curbs and too thin in the center. After being contacted by the mayor and council, Earle milled the road down and repaved it.

“This River Road streetscape has aged me 20 years. It is the worst experience I could have imagined as mayor,” [Mayor Mike] Halfacre said. “I will pop a cork when it is done.”

One issue is that different crews are doing different parts of the job, Halfacre said. “We’re not in control of the situation.”

Borough officials have tried to get contractors to use the borough hall parking lot as a staging area instead of the street, said Mary Howell, borough administrator.

Heard called the project a nightmare for businesses. Michael O’Brien, owner of the Gourmet Picnic, agreed.

“We’re just trying to make a living,” he said. “This is our life.”

This is from Halfacre’s blog, wherein he recaps last night’s council meeting:

The River Road Streetscape is nearing completion. All of the “decorative streetlights” have been installed, and they should all be lit by the end of the week. The brick sidewalk around Memorial Park should be completed by mid-week, and the only remaining items are the “tire grip” and crosswalks, which can not be installed until there is a guarantee of warm weather. So, although most of the work is done, there remains the finishing touches for the Spring.

I would like to thank the businesses in the historic business district for their patience during this project, and I would like to thank Chief Breckenridge and the police department for working to minimize the impact on business parking. Please do all of your last minute holiday shopping at our local Fair Haven businesses.

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