Point Beach awarded $1M for Channel Drive work

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PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL KANITRA Channel Drive revitalization map.

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Point Pleasant Beach has been awarded a $1 million grant from the state’s Department of Transportation to improve Channel Drive and revitalize the area. 

The funds are from the $8.8 million Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program by the NJDOT and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. The program provides funds for transportation uses while promoting safety and mobility, according to the NJDOT.

Recipients must use funds to build pedestrian and bicycle facilities, improve access to transportation, create safe routes to school, preserve historic transportation structures, provide environmental mitigation and create trail projects.

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The $1 million in Point Beach will jumpstart the borough’s phase one revitalization of Channel Drive, and bring new six-foot-wide sidewalks, ADA-compliant ramps, curbing, benches, bike racks, signature signage, stormwater catch basins and pipes, relocated obstructions and improved lighting and landscaping. 

According to Mayor Paul Kanitra, it’s a huge step forward for Point Pleasant Beach.

“Big things are happening here in Point Pleasant Beach,” said Mr. Kanitra.

“We anticipate this to be part of a multi-year effort that will see decorative intersections, widened sidewalks, new lighting fixtures, landscaping and art installations along Channel Drive,” he said. “It will allow the public to finally enjoy this beautiful waterfront the way it should be.”

More than 80 municipalities throughout New Jersey applied for the NJDOT grant. According to the mayor, Point Pleasant Beach was the only town south of the Driscoll Bridge to receive funding and it was also the only Republican town to receive funding. 

Mr. Kanitra, who grew up on Channel Drive, said the borough has been working hard to realize the full potential of the area. 

“There are areas of it that are blighted at best and most importantly under-realized for such a beautiful waterfront location,” said the mayor.

“This funding comes at an absolutely critical time as we have been working nonstop to try and kickstart the stagnated Fisherman’s Landing project,” said the mayor. “I feel this will be the final piece in that puzzle that ultimately will see the project realized, increase our tax base and help us keep taxes low for residents.”

Mr. Kanitra said the borough is working hard to attract developers to the area.

“Some of the developers that say they want to invest a ton of money and spruce things up and really make it look nice, want to make sure that the borough has a commitment as well,” said the mayor, calling the grant an incredible first step. 

Phase one of the project will also include utility pole relocation, necessary in the remastered street-scape, with an estimated cost of around $332,500. This cost was not included in the grant request.

“As part of NJDOT’s Commitment to Communities, we work with the three regional planning authorities to provide federal funding to counties and municipalities for local transportation projects that improve safety and strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of our transportation system,” NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “The grants announced today will fund projects to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists in 10 North Jersey communities without having to impact local property taxes.”

“The State DOT deserves a debt of gratitude for judging us so fairly and impartially,” said Mr. Kanitra.

Mayor Kanitra credited Colliers Engineering, John Mele, Debbie Lawlor and Kelsey Howard, Borough Administrator Christine Riehl and Quality of Life Director Kristen O’Rourke for hard work on the grant application. 

“Thank you to the businesses like Chef’s International and Point Lobster that pledged financial contributions to show the NJDOT that there was community buy-in,” said Mr. Kanitra. “Thank you to the Ocean County Freeholders and 10th District legislators that offered letters of support to show the benefits to the county and region.”

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