By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – The Board of Commissioners April 15 approved an ordinance changing Amherst Avenue from a two-way street to a one-way street with traffic flowing southbound (west) toward Longport.
Only two people spoke against it during the public hearing.
The change will forward the city’s ongoing effort to improve the marina district by replacing the deteriorated bulkhead at a higher elevation, building an elevated boardwalk-styled promenade for pedestrians, and installing angled parking and a bicycle lane. The work is expected to be completed by Memorial Day.
Mayor Michael Becker said he has been in contact with Longport, which has raised concerns that the change could force more traffic into Longport’s residential neighborhood. The borough held a public hearing last month during which many residents said the change is unwelcome in their community.
Becker said the change has been “discussed for years” and that Longport’s reaction is “a little surprising.”
Commissioner Maury Blumberg asked if the change may actually reduce traffic flow into Longport because those who use the road will know to avoid the area if they are not using Amherst Avenue to leave the city.
Engineer Ed Dennis Jr., who now serves as engineer in both communities but was not involved in the traffic studies conducted in both towns, said it is uncertain if the change would increase or decrease the amount of traffic in Longport.
“Time will tell,” Becker said.
Longport has discussed the possibility of erecting a barrier at the Amherst Avenue entrance to the borough, which would force southbound traffic to make a left-hand turn onto Coolidge Avenue, the border between Margate and Longport.
Resident Amy Reale said changes in Margate are coming “fast and furious,” and asked how residents can be expected to know the “unintended consequences” of the changes.
“People come here because of the way Margate is. Are we not changing Margate from what it was into something different?” she said.
She said the changes are causing the city to lose its “hometown” feel and is turning into a “resort destination.”
Commissioner John Amodeo said the city is “modernizing” the city’s Waterfront Special District to accommodate the marine and restaurant industries.
The changes were part of the city’s Master Plan, which was approved in 2015 following meetings with residents, the local business community and the Planning Board. The plan was adopted following a public hearing and was funded through a Hurricane Sandy Recovery planning grant.
He said the changes will enhance safety for those who frequent the area, including boaters, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
“The changes that are being made are recommended from traffic studies and studies conducted over the last five years, and for future development at the Leeds property and Capt. Andy’s. Nothing’s etched in stone, and if we need to make changes, that will happen as things need to occur,” he said.
In other business regarding Amherst Avenue improvements, the commissioners approved a change order totaling $23,999 for Fred M. Schiavone Construction, Inc. of Malaga to install check valves on outfall pipes, bringing the contract total for the Amherst Avenue promenade project to $2,099,297.
The board also approved purchasing through the NJ State Cooperative Purchasing Program a 2021 4-wheel-drive Chevrolet Tahoe for the Margate City Fire Department totaling $43,252.
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