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Sea Bright Debates How Post-Sandy Grant Should Divide Marketing, Planning Moneys

SEA BRIGHT: A looming deadline for a grant program lead to Borough Council deciding what moneys to apply for marketing and capital improvements this week, after some debate on what amounts were best for each category.

Sea Bright is applying for a Post-Sandy Planning Assistance Grant for approximately $275,000, and Tuesday’s borough council meeting was the last chance for officials to decide the parameters of the grant application from the state, itemizing how much of the possible grant award would go toward debris removal, marketing, redevelopment, mitigation and more.

But the original amounts for marketing and capital improvement were debated, with Councilman Marc Leckstein asking if $15,000 for marketing was too much.

“This is just for developing a marketing plan, that is different than actually marketing the borough, and the costs of that,” Leckstein said.

Mayor Dina Long said that yes, the grant request would develop a plan, not actually do the marketing itself.

“I think ten grand is even a lot of money,” Leckstein said. 

Councilman C. Read Murphy said essentially the capital improvement plan deserved more, where the original request was for $15,000 in grants.

“To market something, there has to be something there to market,” he said.

Councilman William Keeler said a marketing plan should focus on the realities Sea Bright deals with geographically. With its limited size and location, it does not have the accessibility of a place such as Red Bank, he said.

“A place like Red Bank can pull miles in every direction,” he said, adding that it means for a completely different marketing reality, whether recruiting new business or tourism.

Council members also said they’d hope the grant would fund a plan for the borough’s parking, which could be addressed in the master plan portion of the grant.

As the debate went on with how much should be devoted toward marketing versus capital improvements, Leckstein asked the original plan to be changed, so that $10,000 went toward marketing plans and $20,000 went toward a capital improvement plan.

“We have a chicken and the egg situation,” Long said.

The council agreed on the final amounts, which Sea Bright Business Administrator Joseph Verruni said needed to be decided at that meeting in order to meet the deadline from state Department of Community Affairs, who administers the grant.

The borough is applying for the DCA Post-Sandy Planning Assistance Grant for the following activities:

• Borough organizational/services plan: $15,000

• Debris removal plan: $25,000

• Geographic Information System data $25,000

• Master Plan: $50,000

• Mitigation Plan: $50,000

• Redevelopment Plan: $50,000

• Capital Improvement Plan: $20,000

• Permit & Application Process Improvement $7500

• Strategic Communications/Outreach Plan: $20,000

• Marketing Plan: $10,000

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