Beach Council takes first step to reinstate 2 a.m. bar closing time
POINT PLEASANT BEACH — After months of legal wrangling and divisive controversy in the borough, here, the governing body has taken the first steps to enact an agreement recently struck with Jenkinson’s Pavilion allowing 2 a.m. bar closings and a new parking plan.
On Tuesday, the council introduced a measure that, if adopted, would restore the 2 a.m. bar closing time in town and do away with the ordinance introduced last year that mandated bars stop serving alcohol at midnight.
The vote to introduce the ordinance was unanimous, with no discussion among council members.
The repeal of the ordinance mandating bars close at midnight, originally passed in the hope of quelling late-night disturbances and improving the quality of life in the area, was spurred by an agreement made by Jenkinson’s Pavilion to drop its two pending lawsuits against the borough if the mayor would support a repeal.
Jenkinson’s, as well as Martell’s Tiki Bar, is involved in two ongoing lawsuits against the borough: the first, concerning the pilot parking plan, which restricted parking in district 4 to residents only on municipal streets between the hours of 12 and 6 a.m. during the summer season, and the second, for passing the ordinance banning the sale of alcohol from 12 to 6 a.m.
Mayor Vincent Barrella said yesterday he expected Jenkinson’s Pavilion’s lawsuits to be dropped following the ordinance’s adoption.
“Everything is moving forward as planned, as discussed,” he said.
According to borough attorney Sean Gertner, Martell’s has not dismissed any of its lawsuits at this time. He also said he thinks
HURRICANE SANDY HAD ALLOWED EVERYONE THE CHANCE TO WORK TOGETHER
“On behalf of the borough and residents and businesses, the idea that we’ve begun anew to work together to meet common goals is certainly a better use of resources for everyone,” he said.
In addition to dropping its lawsuits against the borough, Jenkinson’s has also agreed to reimburse the municipality up to $1 million for any costs of repair to the boardwalk which will not be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] or state aid. The $1 million will be paid back over a period of 20 years.
MAYOR: NO REASON FOR 12 A.M. BAR CLOSING WITH PARKING PLAN
After Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Vincent Barrella said between the restricted parking and the increased number of police on board last summer, the problems they had experienced the previous summer were dispelled, so there is no need to have an earlier bar closing time in place.
“It made sense and it works, so why would we have something in place when we wouldn’t have to have it in place,” he said. “The parking plan worked and there is no reason to have things in place to solve the same problem.”
The ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing and final adoption at the Feb. 19 council meeting.
A NEW PARKING PLAN
The council will also be moving forward with creating another parking plan, which, though not yet finalized, will deviate slightly from the plan in place last summer.
The council authorized borough attorney Sean Gertner to draft an ordinance which would restrict parking in district 4 between the hours of 12:30 and 4 a.m., except for Channel Drive.
Councilman Michael Corbally suggested the plan restrict parking only until 4 a.m., rather than 6 a.m. as it was last year, as to not disrupt parking for early morning fishing. He also suggested the council look into having Baltimore and Chicago avenues, which are county roads, become municipal roads, between Broadway and Arnold avenues, so they could also become a part of the plan. Laurel and Trenton avenues, up to Chicago Avenue, should also be a part of the plan this year, he said.
According to Mayor Barrella, Jenkinson’s agreed it would not object to the parking plan, so long as it did not affect streets further south than Atlantic Avenue. However, the mayor said he does not see a need to do “more than there is a need to do,” meaning the parking plan may not put restrictions on streets as far as Atlantic Avenue.
“I would not likely see it moving farther south than Atlantic Avenue, and I don’t even know if it goes that south. But they have indicated they would not object to anything as far south as Atlantic Avenue,” Mayor Barrella said.
Councilman Andy Cortes said in regard to including Laurel and Chicago avenues, as well as Atlantic Avenue, in the plan, he is not sure the parking plan should expand into district 3. The councilman also noted that the residents of districts 1, 2 and 3 voted against the parking plan, while district 4 voted in favor of it.
“I haven’t heard people in the third district asking for it. If we’re moving forward, I want to have a separate hearing on it,” he said, adding he could not deny it did have some impact on improving the quality of life.
“I do think we need to ask people in those districts first, because they did vote that down,” he said.
Councilman William Mayer asked if Mayor Barrella would consider putting the parking plan up for “voters to finally validate” once it is finalized.
The mayor said they may find people will be “surprised and happy,” because last year’s parking plan has been extended, while there are others who will be unhappy that it has been taken out of some areas.
“When you say validate, what do you do,” Mayor Barrella said. “If it’s in place in portions of district 3 and portions of district 4, do only the people who live on those streets where it’s in place get to make a decision as to whether or not it’s validated?”
The mayor also asked borough administrator Christine Riehl how many requests she received last summer from residents outside the district 4 area to park in the district after midnight. Ms. Riehl said she received less than five requests.
“If less than five people ask for those permits, those people on the other side of town really have no interest,” Mayor Barrella said.
“The validation is that this council makes a decision, that’s what validates the action,” Mayor Barrella said. “If people don’t like that then the ultimate validation comes in November.”
The mayor said the parking plan will be part of the normal hearing process as the council moves forward with crafting the details of the plan.
Representatives of Jenkinson’s Pavilion and Ron Gasiorowski, Martell’s attorney, did not return calls for comment by press time.