LONG BRANCH: Amid concerns and questions raised by residents, the city is making some improvements to its each beachfront.
Long Branch Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Stanley Dziuba said in addition to the patchwork and pothole filling that has been performed on Ocean Avenue, eight new benches and 10 picnic tables will be installed in the next week or 10 days.
Save Ocean Avenue Committee member Dennis Sherman recently addressed the Long Branch Council to vent his concerns about oceanfront improvements and safety.
“We spent months, days, hours to get you to pay attention and fix the oceanfront road, fence pavers, handicap ramp at Cottage Place and benches,” Sherman said at the April 22 council meeting. “Since 2014 a plan to fix these problems has not been put forward.
Sherman said people have fallen and hurt themselves by tripping over holes in the roadway and bottom of the fence which separates the roadway from the bluffs on Ocean Avenue in place of the boardwalk destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Dziuba said steps are being taken to address the concerns of residents with the installation of the benches, picnic tables and the building of a sand ramp on the Great Lawn beach.
“We are doing quite a bit,” Dziuba said.
He also said the city has ordered four new beach wheelchairs and a “stair chair” to help handicapped beachgoers people get down the temporary steps installed at several of the city’s beach entrances.
Sherman and other members have also called for the repair of the handicap access ramp at Cottage Place that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, but Mayor Adam Schneider has said it is not likely to happen because it could put the city in jeopardy of losing FEMA funds allocated for ramp replacement.
“The handicap ramp is a $180,000 project. We have been awarded that by FEMA,” Schneider said at a recent council meeting. “We could theoretically fix it. It might then be usable this summer.
“The problem would be when we rip everything else out, it’s going to remain there. It will be useless to us because it won’t match up with a new boardwalk, and FEMA won’t pay for a new one,” he continued. “So we’ll be out $180,000.”
Councilman John Pallone has said another residents’ concern, the 6-foot fence on Ocean Avenue, is also likely to remain in place because of safety concerns. Pallone has said the extreme height of the bluffs in that area could cause someone to be seriously injured if they fell and that the fence will help prevent that.