MARGATE – The city restored some of the parking spaces that were barricaded last week after the city declared them unsafe due to the deteriorating city-owned bulkhead along Amherst Avenue.
According to City Administrator Richard Deaney, the city today restored about 25 of the 30 parking spots that were closed off along the south end of Amherst Avenue on May 25.
“They were moved a safer distance away from the bulkhead and the engineer and police chief determined it would be safe to park there,” Deaney said in a telephone interview Wednesday, May 30.
Deaney said vehicles will park closer to the street and a safe distance away from the bulkhead and that average sized vehicles parked there will not interfere with the flow of traffic.
“The area is sufficient for normal sized vehicles,” Deaney said.
The Board of Commissioners had discussed a temporary fix for the parking area, which city engineer Ed Walberg of Remington, Vernick and Walberg said could cave in under the weight of vehicles.
“It’s in really bad shape and beyond temporary repair,” Walberg said last week when the area was cordoned off.
At that time, Walberg said he would rather see people inconvenienced than put in danger, but after hearing from local business owners and Margate Business Association President Ed Berger, Walberg, Police Chief David Wolfson and Commissioner of Public Safety John Amodeo gave it a second look, Deaney said.
The revised configuration pushes the barricades closer to the sidewalk and bulkhead.
Amodeo said the front wheels of the vehicles will be no closer than 9 feet from the bulkhead, which would relieve pressure on the bank of the bulkhead.
“But there is no pedestrian access on the sidewalk along the bulkhead, and the only pedestrian access will be to the two piers,” he said.
Amodeo said one marina installed a metal plate over a weak spot to allow access to the pier, and a second marina added a ramp for safety.
“We are going to monitor it daily,” Amodeo said.
In all, five spots, including one handicapped spot, are off limits, he said.
“I’m thrilled they are being accommodating while still keeping public safety first and foremost,” Berger said Wednesday afternoon. “I’m sure the business owners and residents will be very happy.”
Nevertheless, the bulkhead could still fail in a storm, Deaney said.
“A bad storm could wash away the ground beneath the parking. There’s a lot of shifting going on there,” he said.
The city is moving forward with its plan to completely replace the bulkhead and obtain permits, plans and financing, and agreed last week to go out to bid for the project, Amodeo said.
Funding is already in place for soft costs, but a bond ordinance to fund the project will likely be introduced in a few months with the work starting after the summer season, Deaney said.
Two developers currently rebuilding marinas on Amherst Avenue – builder Jim Leeds and businessman Sean Gormley – have agreed to replace sections of the city-owned bulkhead at their own cost, Amodeo said.
Deaney also said the city notified Luciano Lamberti, who has operated Lamberti’s Sunset Marina restaurant for the last 25 years, that he is responsible for making “modifications” to a portion of the city-owned bulkhead fronting his restaurant within 100 days.
Lamberti, who leases the land from the city and is responsible for maintaining the bulkhead, has faced repeated wash-outs of the deteriorating bulkhead during coastal storms, his architect Arthur W. Ponzio said when he made an informal presentation to the commission on March 19, 2015.
During that meeting, the commissioners gave Lamberti the go ahead for his ambitious plan to tear down and replace the restaurant at a higher elevation, along with replacing 230 feet of the bulkhead 24-inches into the bay.
Approval of the commissioners was required for Lamberti to apply for CAFRA permits.
The city is negotiating with Ponzio to acquire the plans and permits, Deaney said.