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Sea Bright Council Approves Paid Parking

SEA BRIGHT: Those visiting the borough's beaches this summer will have to pay to park.

The Sea Bright Council passed a resolution authorizing the acquisition and installation of a parking revenue system through the Cranford Cooperative Pricing System during its April 19 meeting after appropriating $95,000 for the system earlier this month.

"It allows the borough to work directly with a vendor, rather than spec'ing it or putting it out to bid," Mayor Dina Long said.

The resolution passed by a vote of 3-2 with Councilman John Lamia and William Keeler voting against it and Councilwoman Peggy Bills abstaining because she said she "did not feel strong enough either way" to make a yes or no decision.

Keeler said he had an alternative plan for the summer of 2016 that did not involve paid parking as a way to raise revenue in the borough.

"We recognize we need revenue, that's why we advocated holding on paid parking this year, study it in detail and instead raise the beach badge prices by $2 and that would generate roughly $100,000, which is comparable to what we get with paid parking after you take out capital investments," Keeler said.

Lamia agreed and said he has some reservations about the projected revenue from the paid parking.

"Raising fees all the time, whether it's for people outside of the town or internal to the town, is not the only way to solve your financial problems," Lamia said. "You cannot project revenue other than throwing a dart, in my opinion as a businessman for 40 years."

Councilman Charles Rooney said many business owners he spoke to in other towns were initially against paid parking but later realized "how much they benefited" in the long term.

"We are going to be very aware of the business owners and pay attention to what needs to be done," Rooney said.

Some residents and business owners spoke out against the paid parking resolution, and many stated that while they were not against paid parking, they felt the council should have spent more time preparing a plan.

"Take your time and do it right," resident Marianne McKenzie said.

Mayor Dina Long said the next step is for the borough to create a paid parking plan and for the council to vote on it at a future meeting.

Councilman Brian Kelly said a preliminary plan has been created and outlined it for the public.

Kelly said people who parking in the Anchorage lot, municipal lot, P House Lot or the lot behind borough hall.

He said here are currently 600 spaces in these lots that can be utilized in the paid parking system but that the first row of the municipal lot and P House lot will include a combination of 30-minute free parking spaces for businesses-goers and free parking for residents with parking passes. Residents who live on Ocean Avenue who rely on the parking lot will be able to get the parking passes.

The paid parking will be in place from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, May 28, through Labor Day weekend from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

It will cost $1 per hour to park after pulling into numbered spaces and paying at a kiosk or through an app on their smartphone. There will be one kiosk at the Anchorage lot, four in the primary municipal lots and one in the borough hall parking lot.

Kelly said the kiosks will cost about $10,000 in annual maintenance but that at 35 percent occupancy, he projected the kiosks could make the borough about $133,000 annually, and about $95,000 at 25 percent occupancy.

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