SEA BRIGHT TAKING CONTROL OVER PARKING

sea-bright-parkingSea Bright officials are finally getting started on an ordinance that will give residents permits to park on the street in the summer months. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sea Bright officials are ready to respond to a clarion call for parking freedom in town.

Although it’s been on ice for a couple years, Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes says she hopes an ordinance allowing residents to park on the street during the summer months will be introduced at the Borough Council’s next meeting on February 4 . It’s a step that’s been needed for a long time, she said, considering parking is at a premium when the beaches get crashed by out-of-towners.

“A lot of residents feel like they’re prisoners in their own home. This will alleviate it somewhat,”¬†Fernandes said. “The residents have been asking for this for a long time.”

Implementing permit parking will force non-residents to park where they’re supposed to: In the borough’s parking lots. For some reason, Fernandes said, a lot of people haven’t been doing that, even though the lot is free and close to the beach.

“We just want to make people park where they should be. I don’t know why people park on the side streets,” she said.

This parking free-for-all has long been an issue in town, but for years the borough was limited in what it could do to free up space for its residents, Fernandes said. Because Highway 36 is the main vein through the beachfront hamlet, the state Department of Transportation had jurisdiction over any street that merged onto the highway, she added.

“Of course in Sea Bright that’s the entire town,” Fernandes said. “Our hands were really tied.”

Fernandes said that DOT ordinance was modified a couple years ago, thereby giving the borough the ability to get to this point.

The borough Public Safety Committee has been working on the particulars of getting the ordinance ready, although there has been a bump in the road. Councilwoman Dina Long said the ordinance was ready in 2007, but legal paperwork was, until this week, lost in the shuffle among the DOT, the committee and the borough attorney. Long expressed strong feelings at Tuesday night’s council meeting that it would be harmful if yet another summer went by without something in place to control the parking.

“It’s 17 weeks until Memorial Day and we need to make stickers, signs. It’s a lot,” she said. “I’m concerned that we start moving so that no problems arise come Memorial Day.”

Fernandes said now that the paperwork has started flowing through the proper lines again, easing Long’s concerns shouldn’t be a problem. She anticipates the permit system to be voted for and in place by the time the traffic starts heading for Sea Bright.

“It’ll help a lot,” she said. “I know the residents will be thrilled.”