Next Summer’s Beach Plans, Skate Park on the Table in Barnegat Light

Photo by Ryan Morrill.

Beach badges will not cost more next summer in Barnegat Light.

“The beach badge prices will remain the same as they were last year,” Councilman Dottie Reynolds announced at the November borough council meeting.

The news comes at a time when council is doing budget planning, and when the beaches and parks committee that Reynolds chairs just held a meeting with interested residents.

“Possibly we’ll see if we can keep the beaches open on a couple of the streets until 6 o’clock next summer,” Reynolds added. The trial last summer gave many swimmers an extra hour of guarded beach.

Beach badge prices had gone up the year before last, and will stay at $30 pre-season until June 5, when the seasonal badge cost rises to $40.

Weekly badges cost $22; daily badges are $5, and senior citizen badges cost $12. Holiday badges are $32 gift-boxed.

Community Development Block Grant funding for handicapped access projects made possible the purchase of 20 new BeachWheels chairs, borough officials said. The wide-wheeled chairs are in demand for helping some elderly and less-able-bodied people traverse the sands to get to the beach.

Mayor Kirk Larson said the borough might want to consider asking for a deposit from people who take the chairs out on loan. No action was taken on that thought, though.

“They don’t bring them back; they don’t even say when they’re leaving. We’ll assume they left them at the house and we go back to get them and they locked them in the garage,” Larson said. “Some of them lend them to the neighbors and they come down and use them, and we don’t even know where they went.”

Among other beach planning for next summer, Reynolds said she got requests to extend the beach tram hours until 6 p.m.

Another tram driver is needed during the day – people with a clean driving record can apply through borough hall. There is also a job opening for a certified lifeguard at the bay beach next year.

“Anytime people in town would like to have a meeting on parks and beaches, just let me know,” Reynolds told the audience.

Delivering Repairs At the Post Office

Around Dec. 1, borough crews will start replacing the deck on the front entrance to the post office on West 10th Street, said Councilman Fred Wellington, who now chairs the public works committee.

“We installed automatic door openers on the post office and the annex; it’s a push-button opening now,” he added.

Another project on the list is rest rooms at the new pavilion on Bayview Avenue. The borough is ready to take estimates for the job.

Wellington added that the public works department set up its own hardware supplies using goods bought from the now-closed Islander store.

“Most people don’t know this, but we purchased all of the hardware from the Islander store, and along with some tools from the Islander store we built our own hardware shop in the maintenance area to avoid us having to go to Tuckerton Lumber when we needed some nuts and bolts. That has really come in handy a few times already.”

On another note regarding a closed business, the gas station and property at 18th Street are now for sale, the mayor answered to a question from resident Barry Mescolato in the audience.

“There’s a new sign in the door; it’s the property, too,” Larson said. “It’s kind of a shock.”

Skateboard Area Under Discussion

The skateboard area at West 10th Street has been slated for repair, but not to the extent of building a $200,000-plus new skate park, the mayor said during the public comment portion of the council meeting.

The borough is looking to “repair what we have right now,” he said. “I think the feeling of council is that we’re not building a park for Ocean County.”

Reynolds had also said earlier that the plan is to “keep the same configuration” as what is there now.

Questions were raised about worn ramps and rough asphalt, and beyond to further upgrades.

Parent Scott Caffrey, who is also lifeguard captain of the Barnegat Light Beach Patrol, brought up the issue, and noted that another parent, contractor Frank Cannavo, had met with Scott Sharpless, the former councilman in charge of public works before he recently resigned without submitting a reason.

Cannavo said he had offered help on the project. “I’ve been skateboarding for 40 years, building ramps for 20 years, and I’m willing to stay on in whatever capacity to get it done,” he said.

Mayor Larson interjected that the council had “never approved” spending the amount of money that had been requested to upgrade to a bigger skate park.

“Let’s be fair about the whole thing; it started out as a $60,000 skate park … it snowballed into .. a $250,000 park.” Regarding the higher cost, “Scott had it all figured out, it just never got to council.”

“So you’re offering your services to come look at the park?” Borough Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Flanagan asked Cannavo.

“The asphalt is too rough for the kids to skateboard on,” Cannavo began. “All that asphalt has to come off.” He added, “I thought we were bringing in a professional skate park company to do it and you were looking for somebody to facilitate that.”

Larson said no and reiterated that plans are to “fix what we have” now.

“In town all the kids were very excited; we’re trying to salvage something,” Caffrey explained.

“There are a lot of adults in town that would like to have a skate park usable for all levels of skaters along with the kids,” added Cannavo.

After some more back-and-forth, the mayor invited Cannavo to put some information together and bring it back. But no promises were made.

“I can’t see where Barnegat Light has to build a skate park for Long Beach Island … we’re not doing $250,000.”

Cannavo said that “in this day and age,” young people “aren’t interested in playing baseball or football, they want to skateboard, they want to surf, … they want action sports.”

Reynolds asked his opinion whether $60,000 to $80,000 would even be in the ballpark of what was being requested.

“I know the one in Brick right now, they’re spending around $200,000,” Cannavo said, suggesting that municipalities on the Island might want to get together to build a nice park.

Parent Tim Brindley, noting that the skate park was built 20 years ago, said, “I know exactly what he’s saying; my brother and I, and my boys used to skate, and we actually skated on the tennis courts, for the reason that it was a smooth surface. That’s what they need, a smooth surface. I know we’re not building a new skateboard park, but what I’m getting out of what he is saying is the bowls and stuff, they’re basically useless now. So maybe we could just look at a new surface and go from there.”

Larson again told Cannavo he could submit his input to council. And that’s where the issue was left as of the November meeting.

— Maria Scandale

Reposted from The Sandpaper