Build a parking garage at the north end of Ocean Grove. Build a parking garage at the south end of Ocean Grove. Establish shuttle bus service and bike lanes. These were just some of the suggestions made at the Better Parking Alliance meeting held over the weekend in Ocean Grove.
The grassroots citizen group was formed in July 2019 to analyze Ocean Grove’s ongoing parking shortages and to offer possible solutions. The organization hopes to obtain feedback from survey questions and to engage in an open dialogue with the public.
The first two sessions were held Sat., March 7 at the Neptune Public Library’s second floor meeting room. Andy Levine, president of the alliance group, was the moderator.
The BPA’s seven-person board includes men and women who live in Ocean Grove, with one Ocean Grove business owner who lives in Asbury Park. As stated in their opening proposals, distributed last summer, their goal is to increase accessibility to parking while remaining a welcome community to all. Several bullet points included:
Increase the availability of parking for residents during evening hours, while not promising a parking space in front of an individual’s home.
Decrease the influx of people coming into Ocean Grove from Asbury Park to utilize Ocean Grove’s free parking.
Encourage Ocean Grove residents and visitors to bring fewer cars into town during the summer season.
Maintain day-long access into town for visitors.
Their stated goals were to be “fast, efficient, and cost-neutral”.
BPA’s “situation summary” included the resurgence of Asbury Park and the increased influx of visitors and employees who visit and/or work in Asbury Park establishments and who opt to take advantage of Ocean Grove’s free parking, rather than to pay to park in Asbury Park. Other issues included an increase in residents who attempt to “save” parking space(s) close to their residences by placing cones or other obstructing objects in those areas, and an increase in incivility among some who compete to find parking spaces for their vehicles.
Comprehensive Ocean Grove parking surveys were undertaken by the OGHOA’S Parking Committee and presentations were made to the Neptune Township Committee. The issue was discussed, repeatedly, during the OGHOA’s monthly meetings and at the Neptune Township Committee meetings. The OG Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA), OG Chamber of Commerce (OGCOC), OGHOA, and residents weighed in on a public meeting held some ago in Neptune High School’s Performing Arts Center, during which time several dozen approached the microphone to express their views in favor of and/or against issuing parking permits in Ocean Grove.
According to the BPA’s fact sheet, as posted on their Face Book page, there are 3,233 parking spaces in Ocean Grove and 3,051 housing units, which include homes, condos, and apartments.
The BPA conducted two online surveys, August 27-September 20, and November 16-28, of last year. Over 600 responded to each of the surveys, they said. The first survey indicated a growing “quality of life” concern level for the parking situation, and the second survey indicated support for a pilot parking program in the north section of Ocean Grove. Accordingly, BPA proposed a test pilot program in the North End, from Main Avenue (but not including Main Avenue), north to Wesley Lake, from May 15 – September 15, from 6 pm – 6 am – seven days a week. Both sides of the street would require resident permits or guest passes.
At Saturday’s 9:30 am session, Andy Levine said the goal of the parking proposals was to improve parking in Ocean Grove, but to not guarantee a parking space in front of your house.
The pilot program, as noted above, would be in effect throughout the summer season – May 15 – September 15. Levine said, “This would be a cost-neutral program. The initial cost would be covered by the season parking passes.” The North End area’s approximately 1,500 parking spaces would be the initial focus of the program.
Implementation costs were mentioned, including $44,000 from permits purchased for parking, in addition to revenue received from the municipal courts for cars parked without permits. A representative from OG’s Chamber of Commerce expressed her concern that limiting the pilot program to the North End would result in an overflow of cars parking south of Main Avenue, throughout Ocean Grove.
Several survey questions were asked of the meeting attendees, with discussions and suggestions, including:
Build a parking garage on the vacant North End property, and/or to build a parking garage at the South End, bordering Fletcher Lake.
Shuttle buses were suggested, with pickup, drop-off locations by Neptune High School. The OG Chamber of Commerce used shuttle buses last summer to provide free transportation to/from the Jersey Shore Arts Center to the OGCOC’s spring and summer flea markets.
A meeting attendee asked, “Why aren’t there bike lanes in town?”
Multi-car families and the increase of Airbnb rentals (over 200 in Ocean Grove at last count) add to the heavy influx of cars parked on the residential streets.
A meeting attendee mentioned that the Ocean Grove beaches are closed on Sunday until 12:00, and that numerous cars drive/park along Ocean Avenue. The occupants unload their beach chairs, umbrellas, etc., and walk to the beaches in Bradley Beach or Asbury Park, both of whom have metered Ocean Avenue parking.
In response to one of the questions, the majority of meeting attendees felt the Ocean Grove parking situation is a community-wide issue and should be approached as such.
Levine said, “Asbury Park brings in $7 million for its parking permits, with additional sums collected from parking tickets.”
A resident asked if angled parking could be set up along Ocean Grove’s broader residential streets. Barbara Burns, OGHOA President, said angled parking requires a back-out lane, which is not available on those streets. The currently angled parking streets are grandfathered, she said.
The Better Parking Alliance will hold four more public meetings at the Neptune Public Library, as follows:
Sat., April 4, at 9:30 am or 11:00 am
Sat., June 6, at 9:30 am or 11:00 am.
Meeting reservations can be obtained via EventBrite. Details are available by emailing BPA at firstname.lastname@example.org