Little Egg Harbor’s April 13 committee meeting was jam-packed with updates on projects that encourage a thriving and active community.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the township $1 million in community project funding for the rehabilitation of the town’s recreation complex.
“We’re doing all kinds of things with the rec complex, working with baseball, football, soccer and doing some things that are ADA compliant…” Mayor Blaise Scibetta was proud to share. The funding, he said, is a direct result of opening a line of communication with Congressman Jeff Van Drew.
Township Engineer Jason Worth recently presented Van Drew with a list of projects that could use funding from this grant cycle. Van Drew gave a vote of confidence about the Radio Road project. “We want to see sidewalks. We want to see bike lanes,” Worth said. Since it’s a county road, the borough is at the mercy of the county to make these improvements, such as the recent paving.
Listed on the Van Drew website are community project funding requests for various projects throughout the state. Among those requests is $2,320,000 for sidewalks, ADA curb ramps, bike lanes, crosswalks, road widenings and other improvements to improve the safety and accessibility of Radio Road “from here (the municipal building) all the way to Oak Lane,” Worth said.
Work on the community center is expected to be completed by the first week of May, according to Worth.
Those who enjoy the skatepark will notice the grading of the track, with hydroseeding as a result. Next, the pitches will be topped and colored over the next two weeks. The parking lot will then be sealed and re-striped and ready for the grand opening on May 27. The event will include music by 105.7 The Hawk and a free barbecue.
While work continues on Mystic Island and Parkertown beaches, Mystic Beach is nearing completion, as evidenced by hundreds of residents enjoying swimming and sunbathing last Thursday.
“The sand, the concrete ramp, the wetland plantings have all been put in at Mystic Beach,” Worth said. “The sand is now primarily in at Parkertown Beach and the contractor is working on the parking lot now to get it undergraded.” He expects the projects to be completed within the next few weeks.
The township was also awarded $70,000 in community improvement recreation funds for new playground equipment at Parkertown Beach.
Sunrise Bay resident Art Mooney complimented the committee on a “beautiful beach,” referring to Mystic Island Beach. He then complained about the lack of adequate parking. “I was down there today, could hardly get out. There were cars all over the place, halfway up Radio Road, people dragging beach chairs. It’s just a completely inadequate facility for such a beautiful beach.”
“We know (parking) is a problem for the amount of people that are there,” Mayor Blaise Scibetta said. “We’re going to evaluate it and talk to the police department and make sure it’s safe — that people can get in and out and that it’s adequate; there are no pedestrians or any type of vehicle accidents.” While he said the area will be monitored, he emphasized that the township will not purchase housing for a parking lot or facility, “because we moved to Little Egg Harbor to not have Jersey City , Newark or something like that.”
“I think what we’re all really, really happy about is the fact that people are using it,” said committee member Ray Gormley, noting that the biggest concern was that people wouldn’t use the beach. “I think tonight will probably be the same because the bite is on with the stripers down at Graveling Point, so I imagine the night life is going on down there with people fishing and there will be lights on the whole meadow. But again, it’s people who enjoy what this community is about, and I’m so happy to see people benefit from that.”
Once Parkertown Beach is finished, he added, anyone unable to get parking on Radio Road can take a short drive to Parkertown and enjoy the beach there. “Between the two, it should help balance itself out.”
Committee member John Kehm offered an alternative form of transportation for youth, saying his daughter skateboarded to Mystic Island Beach where she had a fun afternoon.
As an example of how plans evolve through state bureaucracy, Kehm recalled that the original plans proposed in 2019 “also had jet ski docks going out to the water, as Ray and I suggested.” While those ports have yet to manifest, “the beach looks really, really nice,” he said. “Brings back memories because I’ve been here for over 50 years when we had a beach back then… when we also had a Ferris wheel up there and everything.” Kehm said parking was an issue all those years ago, but not enough to keep people from coming to the beach. “People parked on the street and walked right to the beach.” He referred to Long Beach Island as having comparable problems.
Vice Mayor Dan Maxwell said he counted 70 cars on Mystic Island Beach at one time, and yet “everyone still looked happy. Everyone was having a good time. I had no problem getting around. So I don’t think we’ll get too many trouble down there.”
In other news, the Arbor Day citywide cleanup will take place on April 22. Volunteers meet in the municipal building at 9, and lunch will be served immediately after the clean-up in the assembly hall. Music will be provided by 105.7 The Hawk and all volunteers will take home a tree.
A Teen Suicide Fundraiser in memory of Central Regional student Adriana Kuch will take place from noon to 1 p.m. 17 on April 23 at American Legion Post 493.
On April 28, students from the Stockton University Public Relations Club will be at City Hall with the Police Department at 10 for their heroic campaign to raise awareness against drink driving. “Hero” magnets will be placed on police cars for the occasion.
The elderly exhibition takes place on 4 May from 9 for dinner in the community hall.
The Memorial Day Parade returns on Monday, May 29. The parade starts at 10 at St. Theresa’s Church and goes to Veterans Park.
— Monique M. Demopoulos