Point Beach Revised Parking Plan Approved
Plan will be in effect from 12:30 to 4 a.m. during summer in sections of Districts 3 and 4
A revised overnight, summer parking plan for sections of Districts 3 and 4 was approved 4 to 3 by Point Beach Council on Tuesday night.
Council members Stephen Reid, Andy Cortes and William Mayer voted against the parking plan, saying they do not want it to include any section of District 3.
Council members Kristine Tooker, Michael Corbally and Bret Gordon voted for it, followed by Mayor Vincent Barrella voting for it, breaking the tie.
Barrella said last summer's parking plan helped reduce noise, trash and disorderly conduct in the late night and early morning hours in District 4.
"Other than the politics of it, I don't know why anyone would vote against this, so I vote yes," he said.
There is a provision in the new ordinance, as with last year's, for businesses in the parking plan zone to get free parking passes from Borough Hall for their employees. And parking will be free at the Silver Lake parking lot, on Arnold and Ocean avenues, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., as it was last year.
The revised plan calls for prohibiting non-residents and those who are not employees of included businesses from parking in District 4 and a small section of District 3 from 12:30 to 4 a.m. during the summer. Last year, the parking plan, implemented for the first time, restricted parking from midnight to 6 a.m.
The parking plan, to be enforced from May 15 through Sept. 15, includes municipally-owned roads in District 4 defined in the ordinance as "bordering on the east by the ocean, on the west by the NJ Transit train tracks, on the north by the south side of Broadway and on the south by the northern side of Arnold, but Broadway and Arnold are not subject to the ordinance" because they are county roads. The Channel Drive area near the Manasquan Inlet is no longer included, as it was last year.
The section of District 3 included in the parking plan is defined as: "bordering on the north by the south side of Arnold, on the west by the west side of St. Louis, on the south by the south side of Forman and on the east side, west of the ocean," but Arnold is not included.
All parking spaces with meters are not included in the parking plan.
District 3 was not included at all last year, but is added for this summer at the request of some of its residents, Barrella said.
Cortes said that he has called and spoken to many residents in District 3.
"There is still a ratio of 3 to 1 in District 3 who don't want it," he said, prompting someone in the audience to ask, "Where are they?"
Residents and property owners in the parking plan zone receive five placards to place in their cars so they can park in the parking plan area. Residents who live outside the parking plan zone each receive one placard.
At a recent meeting, Borough Administrator Christine Riehl said that last summer, there were "less than five requests" by Point Beach residents outside the parking plan zone for parking placards.
The penalty for violating the ordinance is a maximum fine of $2,000 and/or a maximum prison term of 10 days.
(A map showing a yellow highlighted area that will be included in the parking plan is attached here as a PDF. Please see full text of ordinance also attached as a PDF.)
Not Much Opposition and a Veil Thin Enough to See Through
At the Tuesday meeting, there were a number of residents speaking in favor of the parking plan, saying it greatly reduced noise, trash, public urination and other disorderly conduct in District 4.
One resident, Ann Lightburn, said she was not in favor of the plan, especially now that it includes part of District 3.
She said she was concerned about the plan "creeping" further into town.
Barrella said, "There is no creep." He said that a small section of District 3 was being added at the request of residents there, but that further expansion will not be done.
The strongest voice of opposition was that of Ronald Gasiorowski, attorney for Martell's Tiki Bar, which is fighting the plan with a pending lawsuit.
Gasiorowksi announced that he continues to believe that Corbally should not even be voting on the matter because he is a local Realtor who stands to benefit from the town having a parking plan. Martell's is suing Corbally separately.
Corbally did not directly address the allegation on Tuesday night. However, he has said in past months that he believes that the parking plan is good for the town overall and that by supporting it, he is carrying out his duties as an elected official who is supposed to act in the best interest of the town.
Barrella asked Gasiorowski, "You're talking about a conflict of interest. Isn't it a conflict of interest that a family member of a member of this governing body received compensation from your client and that governing body member is voting on this?"
At first, Gasiorowski would not respond, but then said he did not know anything about any such compensation.
Mayer, sitting next to Barrella, looked at him and said, "Is this about me, Mayor?"
Barrella would not say, would not name names, but it was obvious to anyone who's been at recent meetings that Barrella was referring to Chip DiCorcia, Mayer's brother-in-law, having worked as a security official for Martell's this past summer.
In the past, Mayer has said that his brother-in-law working a job for a few months for Martell's has no bearing on his deliberations or voting on any matters regarding Martell's or any other matter.
On Tuesday night, he glared at Barrella and said, "You're unbelievable."
Ocean County Treating Seaside Heights Differently
Originally, the council had been scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote to adopt the ordinance on second reading at the March 5 meeting.
However, that was postponed because the town had not heard back from the Ocean County Freeholders as to whether the county will allow the town to impose the parking restrictions on county roads. Since then, the county, reiterating its position from last year, said it will not allow it.
The original version of the parking plan, imposed for the first time last summer during overnight hours only in District 4, sparked a number of lawsuits, including one filed by Jenkinson's, which has since been dropped.
However, in addition to Martell's continuing its litigation, there is also a group of local commercial fishing boats, a marina and local residents also suing and represented by Gasiorowski and attorney John Jackson.
Ed Brannagan, assistant manager at Martell's, had said recently that last summer's parking plan "killed business." When asked why Jenkinson's, right next to Martell's, feels it did not hurt business, he said "I don't know."
Jenkinson's dropped its lawsuit as part of an agreement with the town that called for the town to drop an early bar closing ordinance and for Jenkinson's to help pay for Sandy-related boardwalk repairs not reimbursed by state or federal government aid.