Neptune officials plan to establish a special parking committee to look into the chronic parking problems in the historic district of Ocean Grove which faces a dramatic increase in population and vehicles every summer.
But some residents said more could be done.
“This is preposterous. You just keep pushing this off and it’s intolerable,” Ocean Grove Homeowners Association (OGHA) Trustee Joyce M. Klein said after the governing body closed the workshop June 13.
Klein and others said the governing body has had enough time to organize a special committee and that there has already been lots of substantive discussion about the problem.
Residents were also upset at the way the special workshop on the parking problem was handled at the Neptune Township Committee meeting.
A special workshop on the problem began at 5 p.m., one hour before the normal 6 p.m. workshop would have begun. However, that earlier meeting, which was packed with Ocean Grove residents, lasted only about 30 minutes and, as is traditional, the public was not given an opportunity to speak on the issue.
The outcome of the special workshop was basically that the governing body will form a special subcommittee to look into the problem.
Some audience members said they believed the public should have been allowed to speak during the workshop and that the short session on the issue was not enough.
OGHA officials urged residents to stay until the 7 p.m. regular meeting where, at the end, residents can speak on any topic. Since the workshop ended at 5:30 p.m., residents would have to wait another 90 minutes before the regular meeting was called to order- and some did stay to say their piece.
However, about half an hour into the regular meeting, at about 7:30 p.m., both Committeeman Randy Bishop and Committeewoman Carol Rizzo left to attend a memorial service in Ocean Grove for the victims of the Orlando, Florida shooting.
Since Deputy Mayor Michael Brantley was not at the meeting, only Mayor Kevin McMillan and Committeeman Nicholas Williams were left, which is not enough for a quorum. So the meeting was abruptly cancelled, much to the surprise and dissatisfaction of residents.
A list of priorities that the OGHA wants to see implemented was handed out at the meeting. They include residential permit parking on one side of the streets; banning overnight parking of commercial vehicles, and dealing with workers and patrons going to Asbury Park bars and restaurants but parking in Ocean Grove. The homeowners association represents many residents in Ocean Grove but not all.
The list also includes opening up vacant lots at the North End for paid parking this summer, time-restricted parking in the business district, seasonal shuttles, and parking meters near the oceanfront.
Williams was the first to say he believes the township should form a subcommittee to examine the parking issue further and get opinions from various sources.
Bishop agreed, saying that parking in Ocean Grove is certainly not a new problem but has become exacerbated in recent years with redevelopment in Asbury Park. He added that he has been on five different parking committees over the years to look at the same problem.
He said that there are short-term and long-term plans that can address the problem but added that at some point the governing body “needs to take ownership” and try to solve it.
Bishop said there are too many commercial trucks parked illegally in Ocean Grove and that dumpsters that take up needed parking should be removed over the busy weekends
“During the summer they need to be out on Fridays and back on Mondays so we can open up as much parking as we can,” he said.
He said that gates over the two footbridges over Wesley Lake may have to be locked earlier in the evening to prevent inebriated bar patrons from coming back into Ocean Grove from Asbury Park late at night.
“It will not solve the problem but cut down on it. The idea is to change behavior,” he said.
He said that charging a high permit parking fee to people working in Asbury Park does not help the problem since they then tend to park in Ocean Grove and walk to work.
William said residents should call police if they see a problem and that their identities can remain anonymous.
McMillan said parking is a problem throughout the state but that “we have to look at the problem- no question.”
“We need to cast the net as wide as possible,” he said.