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State Pushes Plan to Connect 59th Street to Corson's Inlet Rail Trail

A 300-foot boardwalk would give pedestrians and bicyclists access from Ocean City.

The state is moving forward with a plan that would allow bicyclists and pedestrians to travel from the end of West Avenue at 59th Street onto a 300-foot raised boardwalk over the marshes. The boardwalk would connect with an existing rail trail that leads to the parking lot at Corson's Inlet State Park.

The proposed new boardwalk would be located on state park land that extends to 59th Street, but Ocean City apparently has rights to "paper streets" that were never constructed — an extension of West Avenue into the park and an extension of 59th Street toward the mainland.

Representatives of the state Division of Parks and Forestry visited City Council on Thursday night to ask the city "in essence to partner with us" — because the proposed boardwalk would cross Ocean City's "paper streets."

The existing rail trail starts at the Corson's Inlet State Park parking lot on the causeway to Strathmere and travels about one-third of a mile to a dead end less than 100 yards from Ocean City streets.

"We'd like to connect our park to the local community," said John Trontis, assistant director of the state Division of Parks and Forestry. "That's our goal statewide."

Trontis showed plans for a disabled-accessible boardwalk that would enter the marshes at 59th Street in a line with the east sidewalk of West Avenue. The boardwalk would turn toward the west to meet the rail trail. Two ramps would bring bicycles and pedestrians up to the level of the raised rail bed.

Instead of traditional pilings, the boardwalk would be supported by helical piers — screw-like piles that would anchor stringers and decking. Water and wildlife would be able to travel under the boardwalk, according to Trontis.

He said the proposed project is about to enter the "land management review" phase of permitting and would continue with all required Department of Environmental Protection reviews.

"I can't guarantee there will be no wetland or permit problems," Trontis said of a process that is still in the early stages.

But a recent review showed that no endangered animals or plants would be affected by the project, Southern Regional Superintendent Thomas Keck told City Council.

The state Department of Environmental Protection, in a December 2011 news release, announced $5,850 in federal funding for a "59th Street Ocean City Boardwalk." The state would match a portion of that funding.

Trontis said the grant money would be used to buy material and the project could be completed — as have all Parks and Forestry projects since October 2010 — with in-house labor.

In public comment before Trontis' presentation, current Advisory Council on Physical Fitness and Sports member Kevin Redmond and former member Tom Heist spoke in favor of the project.

They described it as an an enhancement to safety and quality of life and a natural extension to a island-wide safe bicycle corridor under development.

Ocean City resident Irene Lorenzon said it was "an unnecessary intrusion" on wetlands and wildlife. She said 135 property owners have signed a letter of objection.

In questioning Trontis after his presentation, Councilman Tony Wilson clarified that a disabled-accessible trail is "something that's generally not available" at most parks.

Councilman Mike DeVlieger confirmed that the city would incur no costs from the proposed project.

Reacting to suggestions that the trail could create a parking problem, Councilman Keith Hartzell said neighbors told him parking would not be an issue — because there is none to be found anyway during the summer.

Hartzell said the neighbors who showed up earlier Thursday for a tour of the project area seemed satisfied with the proposed project.

Council President Michael Allegretto closed the discussion by saying that council would reach out to citizens for questions and feedback before making any decision.

Gary Trucano October 12, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Well said Steve
RhondaVW October 12, 2012 at 10:12 PM
"The state is moving forward with a plan that would allow bicyclists and pedestrians to travel from the end of West Avenue at 59th Street onto a 300-foot raised boardwalk over the marshes." Steven, what part of "bicyclists and pedestrians" am I having trouble comprehending? If you are not prohibiting one or the other user it is by definition a shared use structure and all the safety guidelines are indeed applicable. Are railings and lights on a raised public boardwalk "amenities"? Or perhaps you mean that the ADA requirements are not applicable? Is the boardwalk intended only for the able bodied? Is handicapped access just another "amenity" you have ruled out? At the risk of causing more hysteria I will ask "who is going to be responsible for maintaining and policing this unlit, unsafe, pedestrian-only boardwalk you are proposing?
Eric Sauder October 12, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Well it has the backing of Forestry and the DEP. As was pointed out to make it viable for bi-directional traffic it will have to be fairly wide and it will be elevated so its not like it won't be intrusive. I just can't see the need for it. Have you ever walked the trail between Central Avenue and the bay? It's not a very long hike. It's supposed to be a nature preserve, not a thoroughfare. And I do think having bike traffic whizzing thru it will be disruptive to the wildlife. What's wrong with it the way it is (as hiking trail?)
Eric Sauder October 12, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I have to confess I was never on the rail trail but there are hikng paths that go thru the park. At the south end I walked along the beach by the inlet.
RhondaVW October 12, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Steven, from a 2011 Patch article: "Constructing "a boardwalk-style shared use path segment to connect the Corson's Inlet Trail to the local roadway network at the south end of West Avenue at 59th Street" is one of the opportunities outlined in a report from the state Department of Transportation on creating a safe bicycle corridor to run the length of Ocean City." http://oceancity.patch.com/articles/grant-may-help-connect-corson-s-inlet-rail-trail-to-ocean-city
RhondaVW October 12, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Hi Eric, I'm trying to picture how one can observe nature at 25 mph. Regarding the backing of the Forestry/DEP, if you look at where the funding is coming from on these projects it is easy to understand why everyone backs them. They have basically had a pile of money dumped on their desks and have to do something with it no matter how pointless it might seem. It's not like someone is making a rational decision with their own money at risk. I imagine that they are just spending their budget so they have it (and their jobs) next year and that if you asked council to spend even $12,000 on the same project you would get a much different response.
Caroline October 12, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Weren't you at the meeting last night Mr, I am so stinking smart, Purdy? They said this was a shared use path. That is one of the things this used car salesman was pushing. Oh, I mean, Park Service Assit. Director, used car salesmasn - hey, he is so good, he could be a realtor! And as a realtor, this may bring in more tourists to the town whopee more money for the realtors who own this town and who have destroyed this town. Greed Mr. Purdy that is what Ocean City is all about -- not nature! And please, Mr. Purdy, be sure and tell everyone here who or who not to respond to, in all your fabulous wisdom we rely on your integrity and intelligence to show us the way!
Caroline October 13, 2012 at 12:11 AM
And Eric, do not assume that because it is Park Service and part of NJDEP that these guys have nature at heart. These guys are in the BUSINESS of making trails. They have the money and the mission before them - is the trail needed? no -- who cares? we can sell it to the old boys club in Ocean City they will buy anything if there may be a tourist dollar attached. But do not assume that this is about NATURE because it is not. These guys are about making trails - necessary or not they make it happen and they want Ocean City property - "paper streets" - and they said if OC does not give it to them - they will take it anyway . How do you like that? And our esteemed council --- what a joke! hey guys, there is a bridge in Brooklyn? wanna buy?
Pa homeowner TOO October 13, 2012 at 12:45 AM
oh and Gary Tuscano -- you worried that someonr dared to speak up about Ocean City when she may have 2 houses - 2 residences - one in Pa and one in Ocean City? a bit jealous there buddy? a little resentful of those with more than you? I understand when you don't have much - someone with 2 homes seems alot I'm sorry try not to be so bitter though it is unbecoming!
Gary Trucano October 13, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I am neither bitter or jealous, what I resent is someone who doesn't live here trying to dictate how things should be done here. I don't care if Ms. Lorenzon has 10 houses, good for her. As far as me not having much, well that just isn't the case, I have plenty. Oh, by the way, the last name is Trucano not Tuscano, at least when I post I use my first and last name, instead of hiding behind some screen name.
Caroline October 13, 2012 at 11:08 AM
That's too bad, Trucano. You have attacked a person who does live in Ocean City - part time - but does live in Ocean City and is a full time tax payer - and who are you to decide how much time a person needs to spend in a place before they can care about a place? You can care about the environment whether you are in a place 100% of the time or 10% and it is not your place to make a distinction. I have been in Ocean City all my life and some of the locals treat the 2nd homeowners pretty badly. I think alot of it is pure jealously. Whatever, it is purely ignorant - their tax dollars make this a pretty nice place to be.. And it is Not your place Gary to decide whether people should care or not care or speak or not speak based on their percentage of residence time spent in Ocean City. You sound like a bitter, grouchy old man. Best take a look in the mirror and see if you are one - or ask your wife Bet she could verify the old grouchy part herself. First or second homeowners have rights in Ocean City and some of you old locals who act like real hicks, better give everyone the respect they deserve as fellow citizens.
caroline October 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Mayor Gillian said no wetland bike paths. Now he is allowing a wetland bike path? Too bad he can only be consistent when it comes to taking care of his boardwalk cash cow. Then he is consistent, can't he?
Gary Trucano October 13, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Caroline, I have not "attacked" anyone, I simply stated that Ms Lorenzon is not a resident, which the article implied. Meanwhile I have been called jealous, bitter, old, grouchy,poor, ignorant, and a hick, simply for correcting a misconception. Who is the one being attacked here? With that said, you can think whatever you want about me, as I will not be responding to any more of your posts. Frankly I find them a little childish. Oh, and just to correct another misconception, I am 46 years old, which doesn't make me a teenager, but hardly an old man. Have a great weekend.
Eric Sauder October 13, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Alright people. Let's keep it on the issue. We're all a part of Ocean CIty in one way or another be it as a resident or a vacataion home owner. We all pay taxes here.
Neil Kaye October 13, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Without voting power, 2nd homeowners really don't have much in the way of rights. We may have have equal protection for law enforcement, but we have no say in what happens as we have no vote. OC has exploited this for years and always will. Taxation w/o representation is alive and well! The place would look and operate a lot differently if all taxpayers were allowed to vote...
Eric Sauder October 13, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Second home owners should have representation. They have as much of a vested interest in Ocean City as anyone else. I"ve been saying that for years. One of the at large council seats should be appointed to represent second home owners. Second home owners still woouldn't be able to vote but at least they'd have a voice on the governing body. I am a resident and I can vote (for all the good that does me). But I can tell you no one is going to give that to them. They're going to have to get organized and demand representation. Its not like people who don't live here can't stay informed. The problem is what the problem has always been. A government is only as responsive to the people as the people are responsive to it. I think much would change here IF the tax payers plugged in, got involved, and took an active role in governance. This town is largely run for the benefit of special interests. The only way that's going to change is if the citizens demand that it is run in the interests of this community. I say again, if you want representation, DO something about it.
Gary Trucano October 13, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Thank you Frank Ruch, it now all makes sense.
Gary October 13, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Eric: The second homeowners are condemned by the locals for some reason. I have lived in Ocean City all my life, and I do not understand why some of the locals are so antagonistic against them. But I understand why they don't want to get involved. Look at the posts here about a woman who dares to say that she feels a wetland bike path is intrusive to wildlife habitat. You would think she wanted to open a brothel. No - just protect the wetlands. But some of the locals here resent this. There is no reaonable explanation for this behavior. But no wonder 2nd homeowners want to stay away from these mean spirited guys. You picture them with no teeth carrying a shot gun.
Barrybarry October 13, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I would hate to see what would happen to the poor person who tried to organize second homeowners to get representation on council. Look at the terrible things said about anyone who tries to do anything in this town. No. Just come for vacation and go home. Getting involved will ruin your time for you in ocean city. Some of the locals here are pretty mean. Things get really vicious when anyone speaks up about anything. And do not worry. They are horrible to each other too. Look at byob. Keep your head low. Venture no opinions. Just put money in the coffers. That's all they want anyhow
Charlene October 14, 2012 at 12:42 AM
I am a low income family who lives here full time and believe it shouldnt make a difference who owns what and how much time someone is here or not. We have to think about the community as a whole and how building this path will effect the wetlands. There are things out there that are more important than our egos and a good example of that is our wildlife, endangered species. What the first step before everyone fights is finding out how badly this will impact the environment. I am glad i am not rich it changes people, changes their values and how they treat one another. God Bless you all...
DaveK October 14, 2012 at 01:18 AM
I've read the above comments and I just don't see how people would object to this project. Minimally invasive, no wetlands issues, little or no expense to OC and a huge plus for the city. As far as ADA standards, wait to see the specs. Hasn't anyone been to National Parks where some trails are NOT recomended for everyone? Sorry folks, there's just no reason to not support this idea.
Eric Sauder October 14, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Thanks for your comments people. I'm somewhat embarassed to say I live in Ocean CIty at times. And to second home owners, know that we're not all psychos. I've always valued people according to what they contribute and I would agree with the bitterest of enemies if what they say is true. To be honest I'd love to be more positive about my elected officials if they only gave me a reason to.
Eric Sauder October 14, 2012 at 05:03 AM
As of now I only support one of them.
Greg October 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM
There is no reason to put in yet another path in Corson's Inlet State Park. There are many there already. The realtors and developers destroyed Ocean City a long time ago when they overbuilt, destroyed single homes to replace them with boxes to get as many people as possible in one space. I understand now the Master Plan committee is made up of realtors so obviously, Ocean City is just about money and the envirnoment is ony to be used to bring in more money. I only support one on City Council too. And some of them, like Keith Hartzell, has been on council way too long, has never demonstrated any independent thinking, is very weak in the face of challenge and needs to go. He has never cared about the good of the community, only the good of Keith. Time to go Keith - you are not worth the space you are taking up in that chair.
vic October 14, 2012 at 12:56 PM
"you vote where you reside" is a national issue and cannot be changed by ocean city council. many "residents" of ocean city cannot legally vote here because, for tax purposes, they have decided to make florida their permanent residence. similarly, 2nd home owners can go through the process and make ocean city their legal residence and gain the right to vote here.
Greg October 14, 2012 at 02:26 PM
good suggestion, Vic. That would be a great thing because maybe with some outside influence, Ocean City would not just run for the insiders, the old families who use it as their own personal piggy bank
Eric Sauder October 14, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Cindy Nevitt investigated the coastal cottage concept. Check out her piece "If they build it …" in shorenewstoday (Ocean City).
FactCheck October 15, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Corson's is a relatively small park with abundand trails right now - marked and unmarked. The proposed trail is on the books simply because of a state-wide parks division program to add trails. There is absolutely no need for this trail. It is all that is left for the corson's administrators to contribute to the bueuracatic mandate because the park is maxed out with trails. It runs through wetlands and state listed threathened and endangered species habitat and because the Park's division is part of the DEP, the reviews are complete white-washes. This is the kind of institutional corruption that runs rampant everywhere, regardless of who is in power. What makes this particular proposal especially offensive is that the State is willing to go beoyond the ususal intra-agency collusion and threaten to take OC streets by emininant domain and then vacate the streets - our streets! And, again, just to accomplish some bureucratic mission. I know this presents a dilemna to the usual low-info commenters here - environmentalists oppose it so the low info gang is for it, but the State is imposing its will on our town and those same low info folks are inclined to oppose that. What to do? How bout trying something new: get the relevant info and make an independant, dispassionate decision.
More Actual Facts October 15, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Also worth mentioning - During public comment, someone spoke in favor of the Corson';s trail making the case based on a fatality on Ocean Drive in 1999. That was of course tragic. But using that tragedy to make a political point is disrespectful and cheap. And worse, the person did not mention that subsequent to that accident, the state spent a ton of taxpayer money widening the shoulders of that road for the expressed purpose of making it safer for bikers and pedestrians. (and, of course, most ocean drive bicyclists are through-bikers (going from town to town) who would not get off the road to find and then ride the remote, sandy corson's trail). The same person stated that the RBA report on the thrice failed 25th to 49ths street boondagle stated that that trail could be done. The report did say that, but it went on to say that for it to get done would require multiple state and federal permits. It went on to mention requirements to get those permits and it was clear that they could not be gotten. So, saying the report concluded that the project could be done is equivalent to saying that I could fly to the moon - if I could buy a space ship and fly it.
OCPatch Test October 19, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Comment test.

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