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City Receives $750,000 Grant To Make West End Improvements

LONG BRANCH: West End will be getting a makeover over the course of the next year.

City Engineer Gerry Freda said during the Sept. 9 Long Branch Council meeting that the city is receiving a $750,000 grant from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to do streetscape work on Brighton Avenue from Ocean Avenue to the railroad tracks.

Freda said all work will be done from the curb back to the buildings and that no paving work is included in the funding. The funds will help the city install new concrete sidewalks, new pavers between the sidewalk and curb, new street lighting, tree grates and will allow the city to widen sidewalks in some crossing areas to make them safer.

"The safety of the sidewalks is paramount down there," City Business Administrator Howard Woolley said.

Freda said some of the older trees along the street could be casualties of the work.

"We're going to lose some trees because the roots are tearing what little sidewalk is left," Freda said. "If we have take some trees down we will obviously look to replace them but we will try to save as many as possible."

The grant, which is funded by HUD, is a non-matching grant but all the work must be completed by December, 2015.

"We haven't been able to start yet because we're still in the process of gaining final approval and getting the money committed to us," Freda said. "We're trying to move it along as feast as we can."

As a results, construction work will have to be performed during the summer of 2015.

Woolley said the city will work with businesses to make sure their stores are still accessible while the work is being performed.

Woolley said events like the West End Car Show and Art in the Park could be affected by the work but that the city will work with those in charge of those events to come up with a strategy.

Freda said the city will apply for a Transportation Trust Fund grant to fund milling and paving of street in the same area as the forthcoming streetscape improvements.

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