Coaster Photo File
The Palace Amusements, off Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park was torn down almost 20 years ago.
By CAROL GORGA WILLIAMS
Asbury Park officials and the Asbury Park Historical Society are of the same mind when it comes to advancing a historic preservation ordinance in the city: The time is right or long past, officials said.
The potential ordinance was discussed last week at the annual membership meeting of the historical society. Councilwoman Eileen Chapman – who’s been working behind the scenes with Society President Kay Harris and others – also discussed the status of the ordinance which rose to the top of the city agenda after a series of iconic buildings including Holy Spirit Church – became threatened by development after the diocese put the century-plus building up for sale.
“We are creating our own ordinance” after meeting with towns that already have one in place, Chapman said. One question is whether the ordinance which would create a historic preservation committee should be strong, with statutory powers or weak, which would work in a strictly advisory committee. Chapman noted that Ocean Grove has a very strict ordinance but it has created some problems among property owners in that community.
Because so much research in a variety of subject areas is necessary, it could take about a year to come up with a draft of the law, officials said.
“What the city needs to do, they need a little manpower,” said Historian Jim Henry who noted the researchers could meet soon to distribute areas of responsibility.
The city first started this research 20 years ago when it began drawing up an inventory of historic sites.
“In that time, we have lost so many buildings,” Henry said.
The difficulty in including designations for private homes and commercial buildings is that most historic designations involve restrictions to a building’s exterior, Henry said.
“If you wanted to restore your 1890s house, you would have a problem with the board of health because your house would probably have an outhouse and wouldn’t have a bathtub” unless it was one of those baths brought into the room and filled with water. “We’re trying to connect the factual and what people remember about Asbury Park,” Henry said.
As the process proceeds the group will hold a series of public meetings so people understand the purpose and function of the ordinance and could provide feedback that will shape it, officials said.