Site of a proposed passive park on 22nd Avenue in Longport.


LONGPORT – Neighbors on S. 22nd Avenue are supportive of a Longport woman’s request to create a public park on their street, commissioners learned at their meeting Jan. 3. broke the story about a Longport woman bequeathing to the borough two beach-block lots valued at more than $3 million. In her will, Dorothy McGee, who served as the borough’s school board secretary for many years, put detailed information about what she would like to see on the two vacant lots behind her Atlantic Avenue home. McGee passed away in November, and upon reading of her will, her family notified the borough of their mother’s gift.

The story was met with hundreds of positive comments about creating the park in the residential hamlet by the sea. Longport has more than 55% of its land mass covered with huge luxury homes and very little public spaces, except for a previously donated tract of beachfront land that houses the borough’s tennis, basketball and pickleball courts, a playground and the small Community Building the Longport Beach Patrol calls home. There is a park behind Borough Hall where fishers can cast a line into the bay, and Thomas B. Reed Memorial Park located on a triangular piece of land at the foot of the Longport bridge.

Mayor Nicholas Russo said McGee’s proposal received lots of attention in the media and the response from the public has been positive. He asked what the next steps would be to accept the land and determine if the borough has funding available to erect the park.

Solicitor Michael Affanato said the borough is working to obtain a budgetary estimate from Borough Engineer Ed Dennis Jr. of Remington & Vernick on the cost of building the passive park according to McGee’s specific instructions, which included appropriate landscaping, a gazebo and that it should be surrounded by a 3-foot fence.

“Once we have all that, we can meet with the attorney of the estate to draft language in a deed restriction which would be part of our resolution to accept the property,” Affanato said.

Affanato said attorney Jack Plackter has contacted him to say that McGee’s neighbors on 22nd Avenue are supportive of the idea. They will meet with Affanato and Borough Administrator A. Scott Porter next Tuesday, Jan. 9 to discuss the proposal in detail. Affanato said the neighbors are amicable to contributing to the expense of the park if necessary.

“I have no details on what their expectations would be, that’s why we are meeting with them,” Affanato said. “We don’t know if we have the money because we don’t know how much we have to budget. It may cost us nothing, it may cost us $100,000. We should have more detailed answers by the (commissioner’s next) meeting on Jan. 17.”

It is premature to speak about fundraising until the group meets, Plackter said in a telephone interview Thursday morning.

“We want to discuss how we can be helpful. We don’t have an agreement or anything like that. We are in the early stages, but Longport is fairly developed, so preserving open space would be a good thing,” he said.

Affanato said existing ordinances would regulate behavior in the park, such as smoking and drinking, but an ordinance may be needed to specifically address activities in the passive park, such as no dogs, etc.

Resident Bob English asked if anything could be done to create parking for the park. Currently, parking is not allowed on 22nd Avenue, which is a wide street with a center island and yellow brick sidewalks. An alley in the rear of the property is not wide enough to accommodate parking.

“I’m not sure where people will park,” English said.

Commissioner Jim Leeds said he would consider temporary parking up to a one-hour limit if parking were to be allowed on the beach-block.

Plackter said the neighbors want to ensure the neighborhood remains the same.

“It’s not going to be a recreational park, it’s going to be a passive area. Her wishes will have to be observed,” he said.

Resident Jim Ulmer said he was excited to hear the neighbors are on board with the proposal.

“Are there any thoughts of putting together a committee,” he asked.

Leeds noted there can be no changes to McGee’s desires for the park.

There is no specific timeline for creating the park, but officials hope it will be “sooner rather than later.”

The estate attorney wants to transfer the property to the borough as quickly as possible, Affanato said.

“That gift is a positive and can be a trend for other people in the borough to consider in their estate planning,” Ulmer said.


Copyright Mediawize, LLC 2024

Advertise with us


Categories: Longport

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.