BEACH ACCESS PLANS MAY IRK RESIDENTS

sea-bright-bus-stopThis bus stop may be moved and improved if the borough gets the OK to widen the entrance/exit to the municipal parking lot. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sea Bright officials are working on the first phase of planned improvements to the borough’s beachfront as required by the recent lawsuit settlement that will open up more public space along the beach.

The Sea Bright Smart Growth Committee has drawn up plans to re-stripe the municipal parking lot and possibly add a couple more spaces, widen the lot exit and move the recycling center.

That last one they don’t believe will sit well with some residents.

The recycling center, located east and slightly to the north of the library, may be moved west of the former Peninsula House footprint, though the council tossed around a couple different possibilities for its new home.

“No matter where you put it, there’s going to be problems with it,” Mayor Maria Fernandes said. “No matter where you put it, people will not be happy.”

The center also holds the municipal trash, but that may change, said William Keeler, council president.

In terms of the parking lot, the council needs the input of JCP&L, which supplies power to the borough, to find out if it’s possible to free up a couple of spaces in the parking lot and also widen the exit. In the lot are metal poles that guide wires up to utility poles and take up entire spots. And there’s a main pole next to a bus stop at the entrance/exit of the lot which could be a problem.

But a chief priority of Keeler’s is being able to free up some room at that location, especially the exit. A large problem is that because there’s a traffic light there, when the lead car has to make a left turn out of the parking lot, nobody behind the car can turn right out of there.

“It’s a tight squeeze on both sides,” Keeler said.

If it’s widened, the borough-owned bus stop would have to be relocated. Fernandes said no matter what, the Sea Bright Business Association will likely work with the council to renovate the stop.

These improvements are just the beginning of a larger, phased project that will enhance the beachfront and its access. Following a lawsuit settlement last month, Sea Bright must pay $556,000 of a total $726,000 toward beach improvements. The difference is being paid by private beach clubs involved in the settlement.

The settlement ended three years of legal battle in which the state and two non-profits sued the borough and nine private clubs for restricting access to beaches after taxpayer dollars were used to rehabilitate them.