By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – The Margate Board of Commissioners announced Thursday, Sept. 2 that it will soon award a contract for Phase 2 of a major road reconstruction project on Amherst Avenue.
According to engineer Ed Dennis Jr., the project management team has met with Margate school administrators because the project will have an impact on student drop-off and pick-up at the Eugene A. Tighe Middle School.
Amherst Avenue in front of the school will be off limits to vehicles during the project as will pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks in front of the building.
According to Superintendent Audrey Becker, the meeting included Margate City Police Chief Matthew Hankinson and Deputy Fire Chief Pat Armstrong, who discussed the need to keep students safe at the start and end of the school day.
“The project will begin after our fall sports, so the children can still make use of the field across from Tighe,” Becker said.
However, student access will be impeded once the project is underway, she said.
Director of Facilities Kurtis Woodrow is communicating with the engineer to ensure the roadwork does not impact water and sewer lines leading into the school.
Crossing guards will maintain their positions at either end of the project area at the start and end of the school day to keep children safe, Becker said.
“Although we recognize that arrival and dismissal will be more congested due to Amherst Avenue being closed, most of this already occurs along Monmouth Avenue, so it shouldn’t impact the families too much,” she said. “The biggest change is how visitors access the Main Office, which is being planned and will be communicated well before the project starts later this fall.”
The project is the second phase of Amherst Avenue reconstruction and replacement of underground utilities between Douglass and Gladstone avenues and is being partially funded with a $285,000 New Jersey Department of Transportation State Aid grant. Phase I of the project between Douglass and Clarendon Avenue caused damage to several area homes when a dewatering process rendered the ground unstable.
The project, which started in October 2020, was temporarily put on hold to assess the damage and work resumed months later at the end of April. Utility work, concrete work and base paving has been completed. The contractor, Mathis Construction, is slated to complete the final paving of the roadway in fall.
Meanwhile, residents have been a vocal presence at commission meetings pleading with officials to help them get their homes repaired and/or replaced. City officials contend that the contractor’s insurance company would be responsible for the damage. Although they are in negotiations, no settlements have been made, residents said.
Donna Tasca, whose Clermont Avenue home was the one most severely damaged, said she and her husband have been dealing with a house off its foundation for nine months.
“Sympathy ran out six months ago,” she said. “This really doesn’t look good for the City of Margate.”
Tasca said her home will likely have to be torn down and rebuilt and her neighbor’s home is receding “more and more.”
“We will have to replace two homes instead of one,” she said. “No more sympathy, we want action.”
The commissioners convened an executive session to discuss possible litigation. No action was taken.
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