By DON STINE
The Covid-19 pandemic has eased the parking crunch in Ocean Grove this year, according to a recent survey. But what happens when the pandemic ends?
Parking shortages in Ocean Grove have been a long-standing problem.
“Perception of parking challenges depends on where you live in Ocean Grove but there is a dramatic increase in residents feeling parking is easier this summer,” Better Parking Alliance President Andy Levine said.
A survey by the BPA, an independent community group formed a year ago, recently asked approximately 640 Ocean Grove residents about parking and received 273 responses between July 27 and August 23. This survey compared results with a similar survey conducted last year.
Only four percent of residents surveyed believed parking was easy last year while 38 percent said it was easier this year. Only 15 percent responded that parking was more difficult this year with 51 percent saying it was more difficult in 2019.
Fewer events in the historic district this summer and fewer people parking in Ocean Grove (where parking is free) to walk over to neighboring Asbury Park were cited as reasons for more parking being available this year.
Beach parking would have to be compared to beach badge sales.
A parking study in Ocean Grove, funded by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, has proceeded this summer even though the Covid-19 pandemic was having an effect. As part of the survey, public comment sessions are now being held by the OGCMA for input. It is expected the study will be done by the fall.
Comments will reflect past and current experiences with the parking situation- no preliminary results from the survey have yet been released.
The national firm Kimley-Horn, with local offices in Princeton and Hoboken, has been hired by the OGCMA and will identify issues and develop workable parking options informed by field observation and industry best practices.
Levine said that his organization will share the results of its three surveys with the OGCMA and Kimley-Horn.
“The Camp Meeting Association has the vision to do this study and they are doing it with a really good firm. And for those reasons I am cautiously optimistic,” he said.
Asked if he has any ideas about what may be in the Kimley-Horn report, he said “I would not venture a guess.”
“But we are all certainly awaiting the results,” he said.