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COMING SOON: SEA BRIGHT POOL CLUB PLANS

p-house1Plans are moving forward to develop the site that once was the Peninsula House. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

There’s a reason Read Murphy went from former councilman back to councilman in 2008: pool club. Now, with a year left on his term, the Republican is putting his personal guarantee on a campaign promise that, until this point, has been little more than talk.

For nearly a decade, local government has struggled to find ways to generate revenue along the beachfront — ideas that included buying Donovan’s Reef to developing a beach club and building a boardwalk. But always on the table for discussion, and often, for planning, was developing a public pool and building a cell phone tower. Now Murphy is making a bold claim for Sea Bright’s future.

The cell tower, public pool and, possibly, a restaurant, “will be operating in 2012,” he said.

“This is going,” Murphy said.

Why’s he so sure?

While earlier attempts have stalled, this one has made it as far as architectural drawings. The plan calls for development on the long-vacant site of tje Peninsula House, which burned down in 1986.

The first phase’s plans, by Robert Adler Associates, will be presented at this week’s Smart Growth Committee meeting, said Brian Kelly, the councilman who heads the committee. The first phase includes a lifeguard room and facilities, Kelly said.

The final vision includes a cell phone tower, pool club and restaurant the borough would collect rent on, Murphy said. He anticipates revenues upwards of $2 million a year from the building and said it will be like an updated version of the Peninsula House.

“We have not even a rough of idea what that will cost us yet. We have a rough idea what it’ll bring in,” he said, adding that the project will have to be bonded, and there is money in the borough’s capital budget, though he didn’t offer specifics.

That leads to suspicion among some, especially former Councilwoman Susana Markson, who questioned whether the project will get done by 2012, if ever.

Other questions loom, too. Resident Desiree Pierce asked about the one thing Sea Bright simply doesn’t have enough of: parking.

“That’s the biggest limitation we have,” Kelly said. “We are thinking about parking. We know it’s the biggest concern.”

There is the possibility of a parking deck, but that’s an astronomical cost, Murphy said.

“You have to figure ways of making money off it,” Pierce said.

Confident, Murphy said the project is the only way to defray taxes in town. And it will be a no-doubt moneymaker for the borough, he said.

“Nothing will be built here unless it generates revenue,” Murphy said.

The Smart Growth meeting is Thursday at 7:30p at borough hall.

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