A public hearing on a proposed ordinance that will allow permit-only parking on six oceanfront streets in Deal – a move that has many local fishermen, surfers and beachgoers upset – may or may not be held tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 9.
Borough Administrator Stephen Carasia said that recent reports posted Wednesday by various media sources that the public hearing on the ordinance has been cancelled are inaccurate. He said Mayor Morris Ades and Borough Attorney Martin Barger will meet today (Thursday, Oct. 8) to determine if the meeting will be held.
“There is nothing official about the ordinance being tabled,” Carasia said on Wednesday morning.
Information about the status of the public hearing will be posted on the borough’s web site at www.DealBorough.com. As of Wednesday, the ordinance is scheduled to still have a public hearing on Friday at the Deal Borough Hall, 190 Norwood Avenue, at 9 a.m. Carasia said that borough officials will not comment on the ordinance until Friday’s public hearing.
The proposal to institute the parking restrictions has drawn a lot of criticism from area residents, including fishermen, surfers and beachgoers.
“They’ve already closed access to the beach in certain areas of Deal and now they want to take six streets away- it’s amazing,” said Joseph Pallotto, president of the Asbury Park Fishing Club.
Under the ordinance which was introduced on Sept. 21, Deal residents living on certain streets between Ocean Avenue and the beach will be issued six parking permits that will be valid for one year. Only permit holders will be allowed to park there during certain times of the year, especially over the summer.
The streets proposed for restricted parking are Monmouth Drive and Monmouth Terrace and Hathaway, Sydney, Neptune and Roosevelt Avenues. There are two streets leading to the beach that currently have an existing two-hour parking restriction: Darlington Road and Deal Esplanade.
Carasia said that parking restrictions will be only for blocks between Ocean Avenue and the beach and that the permits will be issued to the property owners, not to individual car owners.
Opponents to the ordinance say that the restriction will place a substantial burden on the public’s ability to access to beaches, violates the public trust doctrine and the right to free assembly. They also say the ordinance is unconstitutional since it allows only residents to park on streets and prohibits nonresidents.
Opponents say that the proposed ordinance is just one more way for Deal to discourage visitors and that the taxpayers who paid for the federal beach replenishment project have a right to enjoy the beaches and that Deal is attempting to deny public access.
The Army Corps of Engineer supervised a $40 million project that pumped 1.4 million cubic yards of sand between Deal and Loch Arbour over the summer.
Pallotto said he believes the Deal ordinance is unfair to the public. He expects to attend Friday’s meeting, if held.
“Why should our tax dollars pay to create private beaches behind big mansions in Deal. It’s not fair to the public. They are not saying we can’t have access but they are saying we can’t park there. What do we have to do- walk from Asbury Park to swim, fish or surf in Deal? Taxpayers paid to replenish those beaches. We were promised that we were not going to lose access when the beach replenishment project was initially discussed,” he said.
John Weber, Mid-Atlantic regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation, said this is just another way Deal is discouraging beachgoers.
“It’s clear as day that they cannot do this- and it’s bad news,” he said.
And Weber said Deal can’t have it both ways.
“They have the right to put in a restricted parking ban but they can’t do it right next to a federally-funded beach replenishment project when they entered into an agreement stating that they will provide public access,” he said.
Weber said that there are only about only a half-a-dozen towns in New Jersey where beach access is poor and Deal is one of them.
“People read this on the Internet and think New Jersey is a horrible place to get to the beach when 95 percent of the shore is completely accessible,” he said.
He said that there are about 14 streets leading to the ocean in Deal and that six are named in the ordinance.
“And the others really don’t provide any parking anyway,” he said.