Point Beach Council late Tuesday night unanimously tanked an ordinance mandating that bars stop serving alcohol at midnight, but there was a lot of acrimony over talk of a new parking plan.
The council, as anticipated, voted on first reading to repeal an ordinance for bars to stop serving alcohol at midnight, a measure that was blocked temporarily by the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control last summer. The ordinance to keep closings at 2 a.m. is scheduled for public hearing and adoption at the Feb. 19 meeting.
The repeal was prompted by the town and Jenkinson's Boardwalk coming to an agreement last month for the town to repeal the measure and for Jenkinson's to drop all legal action against the earlier bar closing ordinance and the parking plan. As part of the agreement, Jenkinson's has also pledged to contribute a maximum of $1 million, over the next 20 years, towards boardwalk repairs necessitated by Sandy that are not reimbursed by the federal government.
Jenkinson's also indicated that it was OK with them if the parking plan was re-established, said Mayor Vincent Barrella.
"They said they had no objection as far south as Atlantic," Barrella said. "That doesn't mean we're going that far south. It just means they said they have no objection that far south."
The parking plan had been implemented as a pilot program this past summer, restricting overnight parking from midnight to 6 a.m. in District 4.
A New Ordinance Needed to Re-Start Parking Plan
In order to re-establish the parking plan for this year, the council will have to adopt a new ordinance. On Tuesday night, council authorized Municipal Attorney Sean Gertner to draft an ordinance restricting overnight parking from 12:30 to 4 a.m. in District 4 except for Channel Drive.
Councilmember Michael Corbally said ending the parking restriction at 4 a.m. may "eliminate concerns about early morning fishing," which was one of the concerns cited by the lawsuit filed by the marina and commercial fishing boats.
However, council agreed to consult with Police Chief Kevin O'Hara to find out if the 4 a.m. ending time would present any logistical problem with the police department's shift changes or any other issues.
Other changes include acquiring Baltimore and Chicago avenues from Ocean County, so the parking plan could include Baltimore and Chicago from Arnold Avenue to Broadway and to also include Laurel Court (which is off Broadway across from the park) to Trenton Avenue and Trenton to Chicago.
The latter part "is just an idea," said Corbally. He and other council members agreed that once the ordinance is drafted, there would be more discussion and opportunity for the public to comment.
Gertner said that typically when a municipality takes over a county road, the county usually acquires a different one in town.
"They usually swap," Gertner said.
Ray Savacool, municipal engineer, said Frank Scarantino, the director of the county roads department, is not likely to object.
"Frank Scarantino has told me that anytime we want a county road, that's fine," said Savacool.
Another parking referendum?
New councilmember Andy Cortes, after hearing other council members talk about how the parking plan reduced the amount of noise and trash in District 4, said he is also not sure about expanding into the next district.
"I'm not going to deny it had some impact on the quality of life," Cortes said. "But the residents of Districts 1, 2 and 3 voted against the parking plan."
Councilmember William Mayer asked Barrella if he would consider "putting the parking plan back to the voters for validation."
Barrella said he doesn't think residents in other districts care about a parking plan that would still predominantly be in District 4 and that it doesn't affect them. He asked Business Administrator Christine Riehl how many requests she received last summer for parking passes for residents outside District 4 to allow them to park there during the restricted overnight hours.
"Less than five," she replied.
Barrella said, "I think that's a very telling statement, that there were less than 5. When you say 'validation,' I think the validation is the council makes the decision and if people don't like it, the validation comes in November."
"So the answer is no," Mayer said. "Procedurally, you have alienated people by giving them a vote and then going against that."
Barrella started to talk as Mayer was still speaking, prompting Mayer to look at the mayor and said loudly, "Quiet!"
"Don't tell me 'quiet,' " countered Barrella, at least as loudly.
Mayer accused Barrella of interrupting him and also of going against the will of voters who defeated the parking referendum.
"You got people upset," Mayer said.
Cortes held a yellow card high over his head and said, "Soccer fans will know what this means" and put it back down looking totally disgusted and shaking his head.
In soccer, a referee holding up a yellow card on a player means the referee is giving a player a warning to stop breaching the laws of the game, playing rough, talking back to referees or otherwise behaving in a manner that is unprofessional or unsportsmanlike.
Corbally noted the referendum a few years ago was for a town-wide parking plan, while this one is mostly in District 4 with possibly a limited section of District 3.
Councilmember Kristine Tooker said her primary interest was to preserve the parking plan in District 4.
"People in District 4 are happy and we want to keep it that way," she said. "I'm sure as word gets around, people will let us know how they feel."
Councilmember Stephen Reid said that based on his conversations with District 4 residents, he thinks it would be better if the residents receive parking stickers instead of parking placards.
"There were residents who got tickets last year because the placard fell," Reid said.
Barrella said the drawback with stickers is they can't be transferred from one car to another.
Councilmember Bret Gordon said the town could provide each household with two stickers and a few placards for guests.
"It's very simple, really," Gordon said.
Reid also mentioned providing a mix of stickers and placards. He also said he had concerns about the town pushing the parking plan into part of District 3.
"I haven't heard anyone in District 3 ask for it, I'd like to have an open discussion with the residents," he said.
Barrella said any residents who want to voice preferences or concerns about the parking plan can do so at upcoming council meetings.