BRADLEY BEACH- Bradley Beach residents in large numbers [1,233] voted against spending $10 million to create a community center out of the historic First United Methodist Church building that the borough purchased for $1.4 million in 2020.
The non-binding referendum has been a hot topic amongst council candidates and the community as a whole. Groups like The Friends of the Bradley Beach Community Center, have been vocal in advocating for the property to be preserved as a community center. A total of 370 residents voted in favor of the project that had a listed price tag of $10 million.
While opinions amongst the council candidates differ as to the accuracy of the $10 million price tag, all of them have pledged to vote according to the non-binding referendum. Many of whom were not surprised by its results
“The short answer is the people have spoken, and my only comment from the beginning was that I wish the people had accurate data upon which to make their decision. I’m not convinced that the data the people were given was accurate. But the people have spoken, and as I’ve said all along, if I’m on council I plan to vote as the people have voted,”said Mr. Gubitosi.
“I’m not surprised with the referendum results,” said Ms. DeNoble “I don’t think anybody wanted to spend 10 million on a community center.”
“Not surprised– we’re probably better off that way because I don’t think this administration would be able to handle the project,” said Mr. Bonell.
The referendum results are very similar to the findings of a digital survey conducted by the borough in July to assess the options and priorities of the community on the future of the former First Methodist Church. In the survey, 74.9 percent of respondents oppose the proposed project while 25.1 percent of respondents said they favor the project. The survey had 927 verified submissions.
“I believe that the percentage vote mirrored the survey that we did this summer. So to me, that’s an affirmation of the survey, which was designed to be not only informative, but to really get a pulse of the community, and what they felt about it,” said Mayor Larry Fox.
Mr. Gavin and Ms. Bruynell stated, ”We’re glad to see that the referendum was resoundingly rejected and hope the council will move quickly to respect the will of the voters and sell the property rather than playing games with what the referendum meant. Enough taxpayer dollars have gone into that property.”
“I’ve got to really talk to the council about what’s our next steps, but it was a pretty sound message from the voters. A margin like that was pretty resounding. I know that the contingent that really supported the community center concept for the church are disappointed and I know it’s an emotional ride they’ve been on, but I think the majority in this case spoke pretty clearly so that’s what I’ll be looking to do,” said Mayor Fox.
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