Paving Paradise: What’s Next? A Bus Terminal?

Feb 13, 2019

To the Editor:

I read Jon Coen’s Jan. 23 Liquid Lines column, “A Ridiculous Look at All the Local Development Lately” and was completely amused. Except that it gets even funnier.

Last Monday night I had the good fortune to be at my home in Brant Beach to check on the house. I had suspended my TV service for the winter. Normally I would have turned on “The Simpsons,” but being bored I thought I’d attend the Long Beach Township meeting. I am glad I did.

I found out from the mayor that the township made a mistake in filing an application with the state Department of Environmental Protection to build 44 parking spaces on the wetlands at Bayview Park. He is reapplying for seven slots, instead of the original 44. The seven slots are for the handicapped. Wait a second, the plan calls for three handicapped slots; the others are not for the handicapped.

Well, most of the parking is not for the handicapped. Oh well, that’s your tax dollars at work. Most are just ordinary parking spaces, all on the wetland side of the boardwalk.

It seems the township installed a huge pipe to drain the street of water and then decided to cover it with a boardwalk. The boardwalk was built so handicapped could use it. But no provision was made to get them there. The idea is that the new handicapped parking is close to the boardwalk. But no provision has been made to get the handicapped to a bathroom if nature calls. The bathrooms are on the other side of the basketball court, which is leased by Acme Beach & Bike shop so they can rent their paddleboards and stuff. I suppose the township could apply for an easement through the leased basketball court and pay a fee to Acme for the privilege.

Someone after the meeting said they were going to approach the commissioners about putting a diaper concession in at the end of the boardwalk. That was one of the best ideas at the meeting.

For laymen it is not easy to see the meticulous planning that goes into all of this. I’m sure at the next meeting someone will make sense of it.

It is also not easy to see the long-term planning involved with building a basketball court and a few years later leasing it to the Acme shop to store its paddleboards and windsurfing gear. Huh?

Anyone can see the court provides plenty of room for Acme to expand its business. Not nearly half of it is used for storage. It would be a perfect landing spot for the ziplines from the mainland Mr. Coen wrote about in his column.

One person suggested the end of the boardwalk have a gate so a horse and rider could jump into the bay from the boardwalk. I remember seeing that act in Atlantic City when I was a kid. It was a real draw and could make the town some real money.

Some of us are waiting for the day that a concerned committee is formed to inform the commissioners of an unpaved piece of sand on Long Beach Boulevard. Unpaved sand on the Boulevard is as rare as wetlands. Paving all of this gets rid of those pesky bugs. Who likes encephalitis, malaria, Zika virus or itchy skin? We can sacrifice the last few turtles and horseshoe crabs to protect the public, can’t we?

At one of the previous meetings the mayor spoke about a dog park at the bay. Thank goodness that is off the table. One thing the mayor mentioned, which was interesting, was mounting security cameras around the park to monitor dogs that have accidents and owners who don’t clean up.

If that were not so Orwellian it would be funny. We can extend that idea to our beaches and elsewhere on the Island. The idea isn’t visionary; it’s scary.

It was now an hour into the meeting. I was thinking about leaving. It would have been time to flip the channel to “South Park,” but this was much better. I was looking forward to having Kenny die and then … things got funnier.

One of the commissioners said the town is in negotiations with some of the other towns to expand the summer commuter bus service to Manahawkin. That is good. However, the devil is in the details.

A huge hotel that spans from curb to curb now encumbers the entrance to the Island. It will hinder the buses from performing their duties. Is a tunnel far behind? A new bridge to the Island specifically dedicated to bus service? How about another lane on the Causeway exclusively for bus and HOV traffic? It would sure help with the Saturday changing of the guard and the huge influx of day-trippers.

These are all complex problems to be solved. Certainly lessons will be learned from our little parking issue at Bayview Park. I have complete confidence that these will be mere speed bumps to be bridged easily by our elected officials.

I hope to hear more about this at the next meeting, as well as where the Island bus terminal will be located. Maybe Bayview Park. The park already has toilet facilities although not nearly enough for the masses of people expected. Or maybe the plan is to locate one terminal in Ship Bottom and the other in Surf City. That way people waiting for their transfer buses have choices.

I also predict Long Beach Boulevard will need to be widened from end to end for the additional traffic.

When the buses were first proposed the commissioners said they would be free to all. Their purpose was to transport our elderly and children from place to place on the Island.

Last Monday night one of the commissioners said the fees for riding the bus would increase marginally to $2 for the day and $5 after 4 or 5 p.m. and the seasonal pass would go up to over $100. It is good to see that the township has gotten over any altruistic feelings toward our elderly and children.

All the billboard-style advertising on the buses is a nice touch. It lets visitors and prospective homebuyers know we’re hip. You can catch buses just like this in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan to Coney Island or the Rockaways.

My wife said it was good thing I went to the house to check on it and take some measurements for some improvements she is planning, otherwise the entire day would have been wasted. It wasn’t a waste at all. It was one of the most entertaining evenings I’ve spent in a long time.

I agree with Mr. Coen’s assessment at the conclusion of his piece. We as summer residents and taxpayers and year-round residents need to define who we are and who we want to be and what kind of Island we want. We can see the vision that our commissioners have. Is that our vision?

Bill Boyd

Bedford, N.Y., and Brant Beach




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