A meeting between Asbury Park and Neptune officials was held this week in an attempt to resolve the issue over locking gates at night on two footbridges crossing Wesley Lake between the two municipalities. The gates are locked from midnight to 5 a.m.
The meeting, held at the Neptune municipal building conference room, was attended by Neptune Mayor Carol Rizzo, Committeeman Michael Brantley, Asbury Park Mayor John Moor and Councilwoman Eileen Chapman.
Brantley said there was “a good exchange of ideas” at the more than one-hour meeting and that many issues were brought up but that “no firm decision has been made either way” regarding the gates.
“We will take all of these issues to the Township Committee and see what we come up with. We are not all on the same page,” he said.
He said that the township has been getting feedback from residents on the issue and that the police department has also supplied data, which is not being released yet. Brantley said the issue will probably not be discussed at the governing body’s July 22 meeting.
“We need time to put the information and ideas together. We want to have all of the information,” he said.
Chapman said that Asbury Park outlined all of its concerns about the gates at the meeting, including access, safety, and the way it divides the communities. She added that the city is proposing a pilot program that would provide cameras at the bridges and better lighting.
“We outlined everything and we look forward to continuing our discussion. It is in Neptune’s hands at this point,” she said.
Chapman said she believes the gate issue is more about parking now than safety and that the matter will be discussed with the rest of the Asbury Park City Council.
“We have also requested that Asbury Park police be given keys to the gates in case of an emergency,” she said.
She said that if residents in Ocean Grove are being disturbed late at night then it is obviously not from people crossing the bridges, since they are locked.
In 1995, Neptune installed gates at the southern end of the two Wesley Lake bridge crossings between Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. They are locked between midnight and 5 am and were originally installed as a crime-prevention measure. Locking the gates has been a controversial matter ever since they were installed.
Some city and township residents said the issue of the gates being locked may now have more to do with parking than with safety. People heading into Asbury Park sometimes park in Ocean Grove, which has free parking as opposed to paid metered parking in Asbury Park.