By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
LONGPORT – In the days before COVID-19, plans were in the works to create a beachfront park on a sandlot along Beach Terrace. The idea was put on hold until the last Board of Commissioners meeting when Solicitor Michael Affanato said he and Administrator A. Scott Porter met with representatives of two homeowners’ associations to revive the idea of beautifying the borough-owned property.
It was on Dec. 12, 2019 when Shiela Stone of Longport Seaview condominium association and Marge Wilson of Costa Videre luxury townhouse association located a block away, and their landscaping contractor Jamie Lloyd of JW Lloyd Lawncare & Landscaping of Woodbine presented plans for the park, which would be located next to the bulkhead on the 1500-block of Beach Terrace. At the time, each association pledged a $5,000 contribution toward the cost of beautifying the lot into a passive park. They also agreed to raise the remainder of the cost from other Longport contributors.
The borough has since installed curbing and a sidewalk along that stretch of Beach Terrace.
The idea began after the commission discussed using the lot to create additional parking during beach hours. The borough added two handicapped parking spaces on an existing concrete pad near the bulkhead on 16th Avenue, across from Longport Seaview.
Landscaping plans would include low maintenance, drought tolerant native plants and grasses, a water conservation friendly irrigation system, meandering walkway and 2,500 square feet of grassy area, along with benches and trash receptacles. Efforts would be made to maintain a low profile to preserve views of the ocean for area residents. Low-voltage downward lighting would be on a timer.
Lloyd said his company would maintain the park at no cost to the borough, but the plans called for the borough to absorb the cost of lighting and water. Contractor Tom Marrone of Marrone Irrigation would install and maintain the sprinkler system. A fence would surround the park.
The borough would maintain liability insurance on the improved parcel and Public Works would inspect the park to ensure public safety. With the improvements comes greater responsibility, Affanato said.
“It will be a public park as long as it is maintained as a public park,” he said. “If they fail to maintain it, or bushes overgrow, it could be closed unless the borough wishes to maintain it.”
According to Affanato, the cost of building the park would be $60,000 to $80,000, funded entirely through a fundraising effort conducted by the associations.
“It’s a win-win,” Commissioner Dan Lawler said. “It will beautify the area. It’s just a sand trap now.”
According to Mayor Nicholas Russo, neighbors who live along Beach Terrace publicly said they would contribute toward the beautification project.
“I think they will do fine with the funding,” Russo said.
“It’s clearly a win for Longport,” Affanato said. “Mr. Lloyd is ready to go.”
The commissioners agreed to allow Affanato to develop a memorandum of understanding with the group. However, Affanato suggested the associations form a limited liability corporation to create a formalized group responsible for park maintenance.
The commissioners will vote on a resolution creating the park at a future meeting.
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