WORDontheShore Reader Barbara Fierro speaks out on the Long Branch boardwalk....
If you like to go the beach or like to walk next to the beach on Ocean Avenue, the place to go is to the pristine groomed beaches at Long Branch. This is one of the only places where you can still almost look out over dunes and almost look down to the beautiful beach and ocean. Long Branch has the only two Green Acre linear traffic-free parks next to the ocean for people to walk, run and play in. But watch out. The Ocean Avenue roadway next to the beach has been neglected for two years.
The life guards are well-trained and people friendly. Pedestrians and bicycle safety has been improved with summer special police. A few benches have been added to the roadway between the long walks to the bathrooms and beaches. But, there have been no improvements made to the Ocean Avenue south roadway.
Since July 2013, it was stated by the City decision makers, “no means no” and nothing will be done to the Ocean Avenue roadway, especially at the southern end of the destroyed boardwalk. You hardly see any high City public official on Ocean Avenue anymore. Not one new sign for pedestrian or bike safety has been added. Most seriously, if you use Ocean Avenue, the roadway is full of depressions, cracks and small holes ready to trip people and bicycle riders. Grass and weeds have grown through the cracks in the road and graffiti is increasing. There are weeds growing in the pots at the entrance to the roadway from Brighton Avenue that have grown over three feet tall.
The southern boardwalk has an unsightly 6-foot cyclone fence and base sticking out into the narrow pathway making it dangerous for all who use the road. Ironically the fence wound up on the dunes a number of times when only a few metal stakes to anchor it would have prevented this problem and given more room for walkers.
The City takes in millions of dollars every summer from beach fees. Just about $200,000 dollars have already been collected with the new parking meters. As a property owner, I know that taxes are very high in Long Branch. Why can’t a little money of the City’s revenues be used for the road that people use to get to the access points and beach? Why can’t these inexpensive fixes be made to Ocean Avenue? Why isn’t there a citizens’ advisory committee to help create solutions to the lack of a new boardwalk for almost two years? Other beach communities north and south of Long Branch all have solved these problems. “No means no” as an answer is not good enough and is embarrassing to the many thousands of people who use the Ocean Avenue roadway.
Ocean Avenue is used all year round. These poor, unsafe conditions will now last for a third year or more until the new boardwalk is built. After a very close election, the Mayor has said to the newspapers that “he needs to do more….” for Long Branch “than ever before” but nothing has happened. Will it again just be “no means no” and business as usual? Or will the people who pay high taxes and use the ocean front have a safe way to get to the beach – only time will tell.
Barbara Fierro – Concerned Taxpayer of Long Branch
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