The Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce kicked off its 2017 Breakfast Series with city Transportation Manager Michael Manzella.
Manzella started in the job in November and discussed his new role as the city’s key person on all things involving transportation – from parking spaces to parking meters, bicycles, parking permits, and new transportation services like Uber and Lyft. At the start of his talk, Manzella agreed that parking in Asbury Park is at a premium but said there’s no magic bullet to fix it.
“A garage won’t be built tomorrow,” he said, and then explained how the city is planning to deal with the problem with both short term and long term solutions. He said the city’s first priority is replacing the existing parking meters that have proven to be less than adequate. Starting March 1, two parking meter vendors will each install a meter on Mattison Avenue and will test their use and customer’s response for 120 days. The meters will have a sticker directing the users to an on-line survey about their experience.
Manzella said only about 3 percent of parking customers have used the current app available to pay for parking using their phones, a response he considers too small. He described the app as not user friendly. Other options Manzella suggested include valet parking, either citywide or by individual businesses in the downtown area
Manzella also announced that EZ Ride of Wood Ridge is starting a “Community Mobility Study” in Asbury Park to determine the most viable solutions to the city’s current transportation needs. That could include car sharing, bike sharing, or a shuttle service. EZ Ride has agreed to finance a program when the need is determined. He said the city has already advertised for proposals from bike sharing vendors and will be installing additional bike racks around town this summer. The idea is to make it easy for visitors to Asbury Park to get around town without a car.
Other changes are being driven by demographics as people move back into urban areas and walking communities. Millennial’s and Empty Nesters are driving the change. Manzella also noted that Asbury Park has the lowest rate of vehicle ownership in the state at 78.3% with 21.7% of city residents not having access to at least one vehicle.
At the close of the meeting at the Harold Daly VFW Post 1333, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sylvia Sylvia Cioffi said they are planning three more breakfast meetings before summer. The dates to be determined.