MARGATE – The city’s Public Works supervisor Thursday, July 2 confirmed what many thought would happen with the early influx of summer residents due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his report to the Board of Commissioners, Supervisor Frank Ricciotti said the department has recorded a 30% increase in trash picked up on the beach.
“It’s above average, more than any other year,” he said.
Ricciotti said residents are lining up at the Public Works yard on Sundays to get rid of trash before they leave town.
Water usage has also increased, Ricciotti said. The Utility Department has pumped out 9 million more gallons of water than is normal for this time of year.
Ricciotti attributed the increase in trash to the closure of indoor dining at area restaurants and in the increase in prepackaged take-out meals and pizza boxes.
“People can’t go out, so they are eating more take-out meals and pizza at home,” he said.
The increase in water usage started back in March, when schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our summer residents came into town earlier this year,” he said.
Ricciotti also reported that the city added trash receptacles in the marina district along Amherst Avenue, and set up hand sanitizer units in all municipal buildings and playgrounds around town.
“There’s a lot of action going on down there,” he said.
The department is utilizing foggers to clean and sanitize public buildings and the inside of its fleet of trucks three times a week, and will be cleaning playground equipment on a regular basis to prevent the spread of the virus.
Fire Chief Dan Adams advised the commissioners and the public that the Fire Department implemented its plan of action early on in the pandemic, and took steps to not only protect the public, but also its firefighters, which includes postponing vacation time, separating the city into two fire precincts and scheduling firefighters to reduce their contact with each other.
“We are very lucky that none of our employees became sick because of the virus,” he said.
He said all departments worked together to develop protocols, share personal protective equipment and provide all employees with the proper training to handle the virus.
He said the department is ready to provide normal services to the public during the summer.
During the public portion of the meeting, several residents spoke about the lack of restroom facilities and a safe drop off area at the new Island Aqua Park Margate that opened in the marina district last week.
Residents also expressed concern about the pending introduction of an ordinance to create an overlay zone along the beach that would allow a multi-story, mixed-use residential building along the beach near Lucy the Elephant.
Resident Henry Gorenstein asked the board to listen to the recording of a meeting held two years ago to refresh their memories about their comments regarding the status of the overlay zone.
He also questioned the transfer of ownership of a nonbuildable waterfront lot to an adjoining owner for $1,000. The transfer, which has been discussed at several meetings and was advertised for sale through legal advertising, was previously assessed for more than $600,000, but is not buildable and below water, Solicitor John Scott Abbott said. It also did not have clear marketable title, he said. An agreement between the city and the purchaser, which was included in a resolution, requires the purchaser, Union Point, LLC, to use the lot to build a bulkhead within six months.
The overlay ordinance is likely to be introduced at an upcoming meeting. Mayor Michael Becker said the next meeting will be held 4 p.m. Thursday, July 16 at Historic City Hall, but due to the limited capacity of seating, it will also be held via teleconference. Instructions on how to access the meeting will be posted on the city’s website, margate-nj.com
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