By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
Sea Bright – The governing body of the borough held a special virtual council meeting on August 13, to cover a few bond ordinances. However, the first portion of the meeting was dedicated to remarks and comments from the general public.
A man called saying that four weeks ago he was out for his routine run, when he was about a quarter mile south of the bridge he saw what appeared to be a young man stretching. As he approached, the unknown man suddenly punched him in the face and took off. It was an unprovoked attack. According to the man the suspect never said a word, just assaulted him, causing severe damage.
Unfortunately for the victim there was no video surveillance footage of the assault. None of the homes in the area has security cameras facing the point of the attach and the live stream camera on the bridge did not cover the area of the attack. The man, who filed a police report, is asking the borough to install cameras in that section of Sea Bright.
Sea Bright Police Chief Brett M. Friedman stated that the department is aware of the assault and is investigating.
The chief also said that his officers responded to 720 calls for service during July and issued over 1000 parking tickets. “For the first time we actually ran out of tickets and had to get the printer to make more,” Friedman said. He added that they have five additional officers assisting during the summer months and are currently in the process of hiring a new full time patrolman.
Another issue discussed was the fact that court fees and state fees don’t match with borough codes. The state is taking an additional dollar on parking tickets, so the governing body will look into adjusting fees to keep up with the times.
Residents were complaining about parking as streets are packed with vehicles whose occupants are going to the beach. Sea Bright currently has a $50.00 fine for parking violations. Mayor Brian P. Kelly said that people are willing to pay the fine as they spend the entire day on the beach, but it does impact the locals as they can’t park outside their homes. “Does anyone know what other towns are charging or doing?” asked Kelly.
Joseph Verruni, Borough Administrator, stated that they have not conducted an analysis of other municipalities. He added that the maximum amount that can be charged under the current code is $2,000 but would have to be approved by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Thornton.
Councilman Jack Keeler said that if they are going to raise the fines, the borough should make and post new signs. All the members of the governing body agreed and will look into it.
Sea Bright resident Frank Lawrence spoke about receiving funds to continue the upgrades to the Shrewsbury Riverfront Park. They have received a grant through the Monmouth County Open Space program to start phase II. The current phase will include new plantings that are indigenous to the area.
Lawrence said that in the first phase $200,000 was spent. And their neighbors on the opposite side of the river contributed with the understanding that when the gazebo is built it does not obstruct their view. The current phase is projected to cost $160,000 and the borough will be getting grant money from the Monmouth Conservation Foundation, however, Sea Bright will have to match the funding.
A major topic of conversation was the rental of the pavilion on the beach. It was funded by borough residents under the assumption they could use it. During the summer months the borough lifeguards use the facility. It was discussed that the residents could rent it during the off season from October 1, to May 1. Verruni said that they conducted a cost analysis and it would cost Sea Bright $375 to operate the pavilion during normal business hours and $475 for off hours. And that rate is based on four hours of rental use.
Kelly and the others agreed on a $1,000 rental fee for non-residents. Councilman Charles stated that it was not fair to charge a profit on residents. They went back and forth and what percentage to discount and finally approved a 50-percent borough discount of $500 for four hours of rental use.
Councilman Jon Schwartz said that he spoke with beach manager Don Klein, who stated that during the summer his guards are out of the pavilion by 6:30 p.m. So it would be possible for residents to rent the space, but start times would most likely be at 7:00 p.m. and parking could be an issue.
As for the bond ordinances, the governing body approved $600,000 for various road improvements, and authorized the issuance of $330,000 bonds or notes of the borough for financing part of the appropriation.
Also approved was an ordinance providing funding for COVID-related expenses for the borough and appropriating $100,000 for such purpose.