Mayor Schneider wrote a letter to our committee which was presented in an article in May 19th's Link newspaper. He accused us of misrepresenting the City's action in regard to putting traffic on the Green Acres section of Ocean Ave. between Brighton and West End Avenues. The mayor's letter is inaccurate.
On April 26th, four of us, representing Save Ocean Avenue and the Long Branch Coalition of Condominiums, attended the 6:00 PM Long Branch City Council Workshop Meeting. Public Safety Director Roebuck presented a proposal to allow beach goers to drive on the southern section of one of our Green Acres linear parks (Ocean Ave. between Brighton and West End Aves.) in order to drop-off or pick up passengers. Mayor Schneider was not present for the discussion that followed, but all five council members said no to opening the space to traffic. When the mayor arrived, the council had already moved on to other matters.
Later, at the 7:30 City Council Meeting, Dennis Sherman thanked the council for saying no to traffic on Ocean Ave and other citizens thanked them as well. The mayor, who was present, made no comment on the matter at that meeting or spoke of any new plans for traffic or a safe bikeway. Our assumption was that the matter was settled. Maybe our "misrepresentation" was using the term votes to say that the Council said no to traffic on Ocean Ave because the mayor states in his letter that NO vote was taken. Unfortunately, a unanimous consensus from the City Council does not seem to carry weight in the decision-making process of our City, because we soon came to find out that the mayor still wanted to open the Green Acre Park to traffic and that he can make the decision by himself.
Our mission has always been to protect our Green Acres linear parks, so we contacted all of our supporters for help. In his letter, the mayor is now suggesting that he wants to consider swapping the Brighton/West End stretch with a larger stretch north of the park (South Bath to North Bath Aves.) We've contacted Green Acres and the Monmouth County Steward will be looking into the matter. If the mayor truly wants to "extend the linear park", then he should prove it by not tampering with the current park and instead, he should add to the "beautiful landscape without any vehicular traffic" that he described in his letter by closing South Bath Avenue to North Bath Avenue to cars as well. He doesn't need Green Acres' permission or their funding to do so. The mayor admits that, at the moment, these are ideas and a "multitude of variables must be taken into consideration and Green Acres approval is necessary", yet he goes on to say, "the plan, if implemented, would be reviewed at the end of the summer." In the meantime, Memorial Day weekend is one week away and it signals the start of the "summer season". The city has already met with homeowners from around Vine Court and are seriously considering opening back up Ocean Avenue to traffic next to the boardwalk at Vine Court, Kiernan Street and Brown Road, and putting new traffic on Brighton Avenue to West End Avenue. More cars and traffic means more unsafe conditions for everyone on the road and boardwalk.
Many citizens have written to the mayor and council to express their displeasure, but obviously, the city is still looking to implement its plan. Because of the multitude of variables, not to mention Green Acres procedures and open public discussion, our position is that the city needs to keep its current designation of no traffic on Ocean Avenue in the Green Acres Parks this year. Other clearly proposed, clearly defined options can be discussed with complete public transparency in the future when appropriate time can be allotted for proper discussion of options with the citizens of Long Branch and the Green Acres Monmouth County Steward.
Our committee has been active since 2008, when the city proposed opening the Ocean Ave. linear park between Brighton and South Bath Aves. to traffic and we went to Trenton and met with state Green Acre officials. Since then, we have worked diligently to improve the beauty (art displays), comfort (additional benches) and safety of our boardwalk and nearby roads, including Ocean Boulevard. We even met with Monmouth County DOT engineers in Freehold to discuss the serious danger pedestrians face while crossing the road. Soon after, the county painted crosswalks and provided Stop for Pedestrians signage.
We have always worked for the common good of those who take advantage of our spectacular oceanfront. For more information, visit our website at www.saveoceanave.com We will attend the next city council meeting on May 24, 2016 at 7:30 PM at city hall and urge our supporters and other concerned parties to do so as well, so that we can all voice our concerns once again----- No new traffic on Ocean Avenue and a new safe bike path along Ocean Avenue