By PETE WALTON
The Bradley Beach Borough Council is considering the purchase of a former auto repair site for use as a parking lot.
By a 3-2 vote, the council at its meeting earlier this week introduced an ordinance which would appropriate $850,000 to buy the Autotek property at 811 Main St. and convert it for parking.
Mayor Gary Engelstad said that 28 public parking spaces could be created at the site. He said no decision has been reached on parking fees.
Councilmen Norman Goldfarb and Randy Bonnell were firmly opposed to the proposed purchase, with Bonnell floating an alternative plan to create approximately 50 new parking spaces split between the north and south ends of town at approximately the same cost.
Councilman Harold Cotler said he thought the cost to acquire 811 Main St., demolish the existing building and create a parking lot was too high, but voted to introduce the ordinance so discussion could continue.
“Parking is needed, but $30,000 per space is a lot,” Cotler said.
He urged Bonnell to provide more details on his alternative idea before the next reading of the ordinance.
Reaction from the public was split. Former councilman Sal Galassetti and Planning Board Chairman William Psiuk conceded the benefit to businesses but questioned the value of the project to the borough and taxpayers at large.
“It’s a bad deal,” Psiuk said. “What are we getting out of it? Why not let a builder build there?”
“We’ll be dead by the time it’s paid off,” Galassetti said. “Why not use part of the recycling area for parking?”
Bonnell’s idea includes using some of the space at the former DeLisa site purchased by the borough at the north end of Main Street and part of the public works and recreation area at the south end of town.
Owners of the Buttered Biscuit and Bamboo Leaf restaurants spoke in favor of the proposed use of 811 Main St. for parking.
Resident Jack Giantempo called the proposed Autotek lot purchase “a wonderfully strategic acquisition” for the town. Several in the audience applauded his remarks.
A public hearing on the proposal to purchase the former Autotek property is scheduled for the next council meeting on Aug. 14.
By a 5-0 vote, the council gave final approval on an ordinance prohibiting the distribution of most types of plastic bags by businesses in the borough as of Oct. 1.
“No operator of any store shall provide any single-use plastic carryout bag to any customer for the purpose of enabling a customer to transport products or goods out of the store,” according to the ordinance.
Businesses will be allowed to charge five cents for a single-use paper bag and customers will be allowed to provide their own reusable bags to transport items out of stores.
Not included in the ban are bags intended to prevent an item from damaging or contaminating another item, laundry or dry-cleaning bags, newspaper bags, bags used to contain moisture, bags provided by pharmacists to hold prescription drugs, small clear plastic bags used by hardware stores to hold screws and bolts and other such items, and bags packaged and sold for use as garbage, pet waste, or yard waste bags.
The penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine not to exceed $100 for a first offense, and $500 for each offense thereafter.
Borough Administrator Kelly Barrett said that a reopening celebration at Riley Park is tenatively scheduled for Aug. 11. The park has been closed for several months while improvements were made.
The council honored beach director Dick Johnson for 50 years of service to the borough. Dozens of residents, lifeguards, former guards and their families were in attendance.
Johnson noted that some of his former lifeguard colleagues have gone on to serve in important positions. One, he said, is the chief of pulmonology at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Another is a surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and several have been awarded doctorates.
The mayor announced that the beachfront headquarters of the department would be known from now on as the Richard “Dick” Johnson Lifeguard Station.