Two of the three Downbeach communities will soon be installing electric vehicle charging stations. The question for Longport and Margate is where to put them and if it will cost taxpayers.
All three Downbeach communities were awarded $6,000 grants to partially fund the installation of each charging station. Ventnor and Longport received “It Pay$ to Plug In” grants for one charging station, while Margate received a grant for two.
However, Ventnor has declined installing it, Administrator Maria Mento said.
“Given the expected lack of use, the amount of money the city would have to expend could be put to other priorities,” Mento said.
They can be used for municipal EV fleets, or located next to “Zip” car, bicycle or scooter rental stations, according to planner James Rutala of Rutala Associates of Linwood, who applied for the grants.
“Cities receive $6,000 for each dual-core charging station that is on a pedestal and can serve two parking spaces,” Rutala said.
Towns could offer charges for free or do some revenue-sharing with a private company, he said.
“They can be anywhere but you want it to be visible so they will be used,” Rutala said.
Margate is eyeing the parking lot at Historic City Hall, 1 S. Washington Ave., which has just a few parking spaces available for those attending court or public meetings, and at the Margate Public Library/Bloom Pavilion parking lot where most of the spaces are reserved for library patrons and staff.
According to Margate Zoning Officer Roger McLarnon, it will cost about $53,000 to install two charging stations, “too much money even with the grant,” he said.
He said the city is waiting for an estimate from Green Spot Smart Mobility of Jersey City to install them at no cost to the city, but with a meter that would charge a user’s credit card. It could cost as much as $48 to do a full 5-hour charge, he said.
The agreement with Green Spot could be for five years and include a 90/10 percent cost share once the unit is paid off, with the city receiving 10%.
Green Spot installs EV stations but tries to “marry them” to other shared mobility, according to the company’s website.
A problem under consideration in both towns is the loss of parking spaces to accommodate the stations.
The EV stations must be located on public property, such as a municipal building or public parking lot. Electric vehicle owners can find out where charging stations are located using an online app.
“There are at least 30 in Atlantic City alone,” Rutala said, including at several casinos, Stockton University garage, The Wave Arts Garage, and Doc’s Oyster House.
The grants are being offered to municipalities by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection though the Volkswagon settlement fund.
Mayor Michael Becker asked if the charging stations are a needed commodity in the city.
“It’s not an usual concept,” Administrator Richard Deaney said, and there are many located in the North Jersey area.
“I don’t see a big demand for it,” Commissioner Maury Blumberg said, but it would be “a fringe benefit for owners of electric vehicles, as long as it doesn’t cost the city any money.”
The city would lose precious public parking spaces to install the station.
“It’s costing us one space in two locations. I think it’s a nice thing to offer and advertise we are trying to do our part for the environment,” Blumberg said.
CFO Lisa McLaughlin suggested changing the location to the parking lot at Fire Station No. 2. Commissioner John Amodeothinks they should be located in commercial areas.
“We are not used to it, but it’s happening all over the country,” Deaney said. “I can see the city getting some electrical vehicles at some point. They are perfect for just driving around town. If they work more efficiently and quietly, why wouldn’t we be doing that?”
New York City Police are moving to hybrid vehicles, Blumberg said.
“It’s going to happen,” he said.
In Longport, officials are considering installing the charging station in the parking lot behind Borough Hall. It would replace two handicapped spots, which will be moved to another location on the lot, Mayor Nicholas Russo said.
Russo said the borough’s EV station would cost $11,000 to install and is waiting to hear if it will be awarded a secondary grant to pay the remaining cost. The borough may contract Green Spot to provide metering and maintenance.
“Once it’s done, we should have a small cost, but it’s worth it to provide the service,” he said.
Longport would also consider purchasing an electric vehicle for borough usage.
“I’d like to see the technical side of this,” Longport engineer Richard Carterhe said.
Russo called the EV charging stations “the wave of the future.”
“More and more vehicles are going to be made electric, and it sends a message that fossil fuels are not doing much good for the environment.”
Planned locations were set forth in the grant applications, Rutala said.
However, municipalities awarded grants are just starting to decide if the locations are appropriate. Locations may be changed, he said, but it may take some time for the state to approve it.
For more information about It Pay$ to Plug In, see https://www.drivegreen.nj.gov/plugin.html