No Parking restrictions on Amherst Avenue.

MARGATE – Protection from backbay flooding and wave action in the Amherst Avenue area is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Board of Commissioners Thursday, Aug. 16 awarded a contract for the design of 1,250 feet of bulkhead to replace the deteriorating wooden bulkhead that is in danger of failing in a significant storm.

Earlier this summer, the city temporarily eliminated parking along the landward side of the bulkhead in fear that the weight of vehicles could cause the pavement to collapse. After an engineering inspection, it was determined the ground beneath the parking area was stable enough to allow parking through the summer, except for one small area near an entrance to a dock, but that the bulkhead should be replaced as soon as possible. City officials agreed to tackle the project after Labor Day, but legal matters regarding a lease has delayed the process.

On Thursday, the board awarded a “bifurcated” contract to Arthur W. Ponzio Co. and Associates of Atlantic City not to exceed $94,700 to survey and provide planning and engineering services to design the bulkhead and the street-side façade and capping that will make it attractive to pedestrians walking along the planned promenade. Ponzio will also prepare construction documents, engineer Ed Walberg of Remington, Vernick and Walberg said.

Ponzio had previously prepared a plan for 315 feet of bulkhead in front of Casa Lamberti restaurant, which restaurant owner Luciano Lamberti leases from the city, but Ponzio has not been paid, according to city officials. Lamberti’s contract with Ponzio is $35,850.

Because the bulkhead in front of the restaurant is also in danger of failing and the lease requires that the tenant maintain the bulkhead, the city informed Lamberti that he would be in default of the lease if the bulkhead is not repaired as soon after Labor Day as possible.

“Lamberti could be in default of the lease by September if he doesn’t replace the bulkhead,” Solicitor John Scott Abbott said.

If Lamberti fails to move forward by the commission’s first meeting in September, the city will declare him in default and the city will pay for Ponzio’s plans. However, if he complies and pays Ponzio for the design and moves to replace that portion of the bulkhead, the city will deduct the $35,850 from the city’s contract with Ponzio.

Lamberti is out of the country andnot available for comment.

On Tuesday, Commissioner John Amodeo said he believes Lamberti has an agreement with a contractor to rebuild the bulkhead.

“If he can guarantee the city he has a signed contract to proceed, the city would prefer he wait to start the work until after Bayfest,” Amodeo said.

Bayfest, which is held along Amherst Avenue is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22-23.

The funding for the engineering portion of the bulkhead will come from the city’s 2018 capital bond ordinance.

City Administrator Richard Deaney said the city would introduce a second capital bond ordinance in September to pay for the bulkhead replacement.

In other bayfront business, the commission introduced an ordinance to convey a 25- by 75-foot strip of land along Amherst Avenue currently being used for parking to contiguous property owner Barbary Coast Marina, LLC in exchange for Barbary Coast incurring all costs to replace and maintain 175 feet of city-owned bulkhead and extend the pedestrian promenade. The ordinance states the cost to Barbaray Coast is $443,681.70, which meets or exceeds the fair market value of the land.

The ordinance states that Barbary Coast will have a year to complete the bulkhead, however, builder Jim Leeds has already completed construction of the bulkhead.

Leeds is planning to build an office for his business with two residential units above and reconstruct the old Integrity Marine site to include fixed and floating piers, ramps and moorings. The building will cantilever over the seven parking spaces currently situated in the city right-of-way.

Amodeo said Leeds will provide one full-compliant handicapped accessible parking space for use by the general public.

The city previously revised its zoning maps to permit redevelopment of the Integrity Marine and Capt. Andy’s Marina next door.

Residents of the Harbor Vista townhouse development across Amherst Avenue, which has off-street parking for each unit, requested the city provide homeowners with the same courtesy and convey seven parking spaces to the Homeowners Association.

The commission dismissed their request.

Categories: Margate

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.