Beach Haven Touts Improvements on Website ‘Letter’

Nov 14, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Beach Haven recently set up a “Letter to Borough Residents” on its website, beachhaven-nj.gov, to outline various accomplishments over the last four years. “Beach Haven has made significant progress in an attempt to make Beach Haven an even better place to live and visit,” the letter begins.

“I think it is good for people to know what has been going on because we feel much good has been accomplished,” said Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis.

On the fiscal end, the borough said auditors praised the Beach Haven Finance Office as a very “proactive department” and amongst the top of the professionals they work with. It said because current fund balances have continued to increase since 2012, Beach Haven is now in a position to pay down additional debt service and self-fund some capital improvements.

Additionally, the 2018 operating budget was $500,000 less than 2017, and the new borough hall was completed under budget with no increase in taxes “because of a Federal Grant, attentive project management and good financial oversight.”

“Through the use of the Emergency Management Center on Pelham Avenue as temporary offices and not needing to rent space after Hurricane Sandy, there was a cost avoidance of an estimated $750,000,” the letter says. “The Finance Office opted to work independently of a costly consultant and has successfully recuperated (sic) a majority of expenditures related to Superstorm from FEMA.”

The letter notes beach replenishment has been completed and an ongoing maintenance program is in place to better protect homes from the damage of future hurricanes and nor’easters. Beach entrances will continue to be improved to provide better public access, and bulkheads at street ends are also being reconstructed.

“After Hurricane Sandy, a number of homes received very high water bills as a result of broken pipes going undetected.” the borough said. “A program was put in place by the borough council to offer partial relief to homeowners who were able to document the situation in an application. Assistance was given to these homeowners amounting to over $40,000. Most importantly a monitoring system, Aqua Hawk, now exists where homeowners can go online to monitor their water consumption and the Borough can detect the possibility of a water leak from a broken pipe.”

The letter states the public works department, police, beach patrol and administrative staff continue to provide quality services. To assist them in their duties, Beach Haven recently announced several capital improvements, including a new fueling station, a new garbage truck and new beach rake purchased, with a new Public Works garage scheduled to be built in 2019.

“To improve the reliability of its services the water utility has purchased new pumps housed in a new building above flood levels,” the letter says.

The borough also recognizes the importance of the volunteer fire company and will be contributing $400,000, Beach Haven’s fair share, for the purchase of a new fire vehicle. Beach Haven is also conveying a portion of borough property for the expansion of the firehouse.

The letter says the borough is addressing flooding, as a $3 million bond ordinance to reduce nuisance flooding has been approved. The project includes installing 6,000 feet of new storm drains, back flow preventers to restrict bay water from flooding the streets and three new pumping stations. Mirrored after the successful projects in Ocean City, it is believed this project will reduce the flooding on Bay Avenue and the properties west of Bay Avenue. Beach Haven will be seeking a state grant to cover 50 percent of the cost, and additional funding will be requested from Ocean County, which shares ownership of the storm drains. Design is underway, with construction targeted for the fall of 2019.

Heading the list of parks and recreation improvements was converting the old roller rink on Nelson Avenue to Beach Haven’s Pickleball Center in 2015 at very little cost with wind screens, a water fountain and permanent nets.

“As the only location on LBI offering organized ‘Group Play’ in the morning with certified pickleball attendants, nearly 2,000 players signed in to play in 2018,” the letter states. ”Because of its popularity the second annual pickleball tournament was held this year. Privately sponsored with players coming from surrounding states, the tournament positively impacts the local businesses with any profit donated to a local charity.”

The letter also notes the borough has made strides toward economic revitalization.

“Through the urging of the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission and citizens concerned with the deterioration of the Business District, an Economic Revitalization Team, comprised of council members, local residents and business owners, the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce and outside consultants, was established in January 2017 to make recommendations to the council for their consideration. To identify the preferences of residents, visitors and local business, Beach Haven in conjunction with the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce and Stockton University conducted in-depth surveys over the summer of 2017. With over 2,000 responses and interviews with 30 business owners, the survey results were presented at a public meeting in December 2017 and (are) available on the Borough’s website.”

In addition, a number of properties were designated areas in need of rehabilitation in the Marine Commercial District to stimulate future investment. Plans are being considered for the rebuilding of Morrison’s Restaurant, with a new hotel, while preserving the public marina operations.

“Because of the higher property values that will be realized from these efforts there will be
significant intermediate and long term higher tax revenues from these properties thereby
reducing the tax burden on homeowners,” the letter concludes. “Beach Haven is pro-active in reducing the number of empty stores. With new buildings replacing abandoned structures, the attractiveness of these locations will be greatly enhanced.”

— Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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