By Neil Schulman
Sea Bright — The borough will begin working on a bike plan, a way to make it easier for cyclists to travel through town, and to help secure some grants.
At the Oct. 7 Borough Council meeting, Steve Nelson, a planner with New Jersey Future, suggested that an ad hoc committee be formed to examine what a bike plan for Sea Bright could entail.
He said that the plan could be created within four months.
In addition to the obvious health benefits of increasing the amount of bicycling people do, a good bike plan also increases recreation opportunities, and allows better connections in a community, Nelson said.
Sea Bright should work on a borough-wide plan, he said. There are many possible options, from creating dedicated bike paths to putting up signs that say “share the road.”
Bike racks could be installed in the downtown area, making it easier for shoppers.
Nelson said having formal policies on biking “makes it much easier to go for grants.”
The borough is currently applying for three grants to help study the situation.
Sea Bright is in good shape to come up with a plan, he said. The Department of Transportation is due to release a report on bike paths along Highway 36, and the Two River Council of Mayors has been working on a region-wide bike plan.
Nelson said that Sea Bright created a bike plan in 2002, and some of the engineering work from that study is still usable.
Mayor Dina Long said that many people working on environmental issues in the borough have expressed interest in a bike plan, which “would be part of making Sea Bright a more sustainable community.”
One possible option already has drawn concern — a bike path being constructed on the side of the road, by the splash pad in the North Beach part of the borough. Borough resident Mary Ann Chevalier said that might mean taking land from residents.
She said she was worried about losing more property, and noted that North Beach is one of the more bike friendly parts of town.
“I would like to have some kind of assurance the bike path that exists now would be used,” she said.
Nelson said that was a legitimate concern, but nothing has been decided.
“The plan is not done yet. It really isn’t even started,” he said.
One bidder for cell tower
The borough has received one bid for building a cell tower, from Verizon, reported Councilman Brian Kelly.
Kelly said they had been hoping to receive more bidders, but it is possible other cell phone providers will sign up later.
The next phase in the process is for the borough to either award the bid to Verizon, or discuss any concerns they have with the company. After Verizon is given the go-ahead from Sea Bright, it must deal with CAFRA, the state agency in charge of building structures close to the coast.
The cell tower is currently scheduled to be built next to Borough Hall, and the structure will look more like a flagpole (with no flag) than a traditional cell tower.
For years, the controversial plan called for building a tower in the middle of the municipal lot, but that drew too many protests. Earlier this year, borough officials said they’d prefer to move it near borough hall, keeping it on municipal property and preventing companies from buying land in a residential neighborhood and building a huge tower near homes.
Kelly said the tower could be constructed by spring.
Anchorage Apt. demolition
Mayor Long reported that Sea Bright is waiting on the demolition of Anchorage Apartments before it takes any more steps to acquire the property under the Blue Acres program.
The apartment complex was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and owners do not wish to rebuild. Blue Acres would allow the borough to turn the area into some sort of open space.
Long said that there are details that still need to be worked out.
Councilman Marc Leckstein said that while the plan has been discussed for a while, delays at the state level have kept any demolition or other work from taking place.
He said the owners couldn’t proceed until they received approval from that state. State approval required a special meeting of a joint Assembly and Senate committee, and the legislature doesn’t meet over the summer.
“Nothing could happen until the joint committee met, and they only just met,” Leckstein said.