By DON STINE
Permit parking for residents in Ocean Grove is a dead proposal, according to Neptune officials.
“There are too many issues with the plan and I am not for parking permits,” Committeeman Robert Lane Jr. said at this week’s Township Committee workshop.
Residential permit parking was proposed by some residents in the historic district and about 200 people attended a special meeting, held at the Michael T. Lake Performing Arts Center at the High School on Dec. 18, on the issue. Those attending seemed pretty well divided on the matter but Mayor Nicholas Williams said the meeting raised more questions than it answered.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions and there are still the same unanswered questions. (The proposal) even raised more unanswered questions,” he said Monday night.
He questioned how the parking permit proposal would affect other Neptune residents and how would it be operated. He also said the proposal can raise legal issues.
“I don’t want to open any legal challenges. There are too many unanswered questions so I will not support this,” he said.
Committeeman Michael Brantley said the parking issue gets raised in Ocean Grove every few years and that the issue has now gone “to another level” with permit parking.
“There are good viable parts but I cannot support it,” he said.
He said the township will continue to work with neighboring Asbury Park to look at alternatives to help alleviate the parking problem in Ocean Grove.
At the Dec. 18 meeting, Committeewoman Carol Rizzo, who was not present at Monday’s meeting, presented information about a special pilot program that would allow residential permit parking in Ocean Grove, which has always been plagued with controversy.
Rizzo and other residents said that the Ocean Grove parking problem has only been made worse by people working or visiting Asbury Park or Bradley Beach and parking in Ocean Grove since Asbury Park has metered parking and Bradley Beach has limited metered parking.
Rizzo noted at the Dec. 18 meeting that many parking studies have been conducted, but she added that “the issue continues to persist and is getting worse” and, while some small measures have been taken, “they have had no significance to residents.” She called the situation “maddening to residents” and that the township “has to give it a try.”
“You will not know until you try it out,” she said.
Some Ocean Grove said they “feel trapped” by not being able to take their car to the store or to run an errand without having a parking space when they return and that the problem has become exacerbated in recent years.
But legal action also looms if parking permits are approved and several attorneys spoke against the proposal in December.
“The (Ocean Grove) Camp Meeting Association’s Board of Trustees will reserve the option to pursue legal remedies, if necessary, to protect its property rights and those of its constituents,” said John DiGiamberardino at a previous Township Committee meeting.
In a statement, the OGCMA said it is against permit parking because it discourages visitors, costs residents money, creates inefficiencies, hurts business and burdens law enforcement.
Out of the 3,569 parking spaces, the permit parking was expected to use about 1,900 of them.
Those eligible for a parking permit included homeowners, annual renters, people living in tents over the summer, and licensed bed and breakfasts, with one permit per unit issued only.
Two proposals were presented to implement the permit parking, with Rizzo saying she would recommend it first be tried at the north end, near Asbury Park. It was estimated that the initial permit would cost between $70 to $90 dollars, with the amount to be adjusted, if needed.