Minutes of Special Commissioners Meeting - April 10, 2008
Prior to the opening of the Special Meeting, Mr. Groon led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
Special Meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Borough of Wildwood
Gould - Cabrera – Groon – Yes
Mr. Groon read the following statement: In compliance with the Open Public Meeting Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975, the notice requirements have been satisfied as to the time, place and date of holding said special meeting by posting notice on the bulletin board in the Borough Hall and by mailing and fax transmitting same to the Herald, Gazette-Leader and The Press on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 12:30 p.m.
Mr. Groon next announced the one-way in and the one-way out method of ingress and egress in case of emergency.
Clerk announced that no formal action would be taken as a result of this
meeting. He added that any comments were to be limited to the proposed
amendments, since the budget hearing had been previously held on April
2, 2008. He went on to state that two of the potential amendments to the
budget were an upgrade to the borough telephone system, and the
The Clerk reported that with respect to the Borough-wide telephone system upgrade, if the system remains “in tact” and the Borough simply has the present provider install an upgrade to the computer system, under the current maintenance contract with that provider, the cost would be based on $90 per 15 minutes for work performed. He added that the upgrades or reconfiguration of the system being contemplated would be reconfiguring of the voice messaging system to permit roll-over to voice mail when all incoming lines are in use, and an automated answering/transfer system. He indicated that the first step would be to have the provider analyze the existing computer that controls the system in order to determine a cost for replacing that computer. He indicated that the costs would be “minor” in nature, as to replacing the entire system. The Clerk added that another existing problem with the system centers on calls not rolling over from one line to the next in his office if only the 5176 number is engaged.
Mr. Cabrera stated that the Borough’s current telephone system is a Merlin switch and telephone system that works in conjunction with an Intuity/Audix computer system that provides the voice mail software. The problem of calls not rolling over to voice mail when all lines in a particular office are occupied is created because each office has a certain number of lines coming into that office. He stated that the Borough has multiple lines coming into the building, and the problem can be solved by using other phone lines in the trunk route. He indicated it would entail a small upgrade to the digital system. The Clerk stated that if a computer upgrade is required to alleviate the concerns, as well as some type of reprogramming of the system, he would suggest that in advance of the service provider being called in to perform the work a “ballpark” number should be requested.
Mr. Cabrera stated that in order to save costs, it was his opinion that the Borough should stay with the current digital system and simply modify and upgrade that system.
It was decided that the Clerk’s Office would contact the service provider to determine a “not to exceed” figure for the upgrading of the system to correct the three areas of concern.
next matter for discussion was the proposed
Mr. Groon stated that the original plan had been for a double-deep
parking area since that proposal seemed to create some savings, but the
latest plan shows a “drop off” area. It was his opinion that the
“drop off” area “has a great deal of credence since it would open
Groon said it was his hope that the gazebo area could be “opened up”
by moving the bike concession structure. The Engineer interjected that
any structure on the east side of the bicycle path would impact the
velocity zone, which means it would require construction on pilings and
the lowest structural member must be above base flood elevation. Mr.
Groon stated that that is unfortunate, since he was not originally in
favor of keeping the gazebo but he has been “sold” and that area
needs to be opened up in some manner. Keeping the bicycle concession
stand in its present location will prevent that area from being opened
up. He had hoped that the bicycle concession stand could be realigned to
face either the bike path or “the avenue” to create an exit for the
bike path into the end of
Mr. Groon went on to state, after reviewing the current beach patrol headquarters where the current bathrooms are located, that they (bathrooms) are in “deplorable shape” and to repair them and upgrade them would be significant. If the bathrooms were to be relocated to the Nesbitt Center, those bathrooms at the beach patrol headquarters could be abandoned as “public bathrooms” and turn that space over to the beach patrol to replace the storage space they would be losing at the Nesbitt Center.
Groon summarized his suggestions by stating (1) the reconfiguration of
the parking lot exits; (2) the adding of handicapped parking; (3) the
potential of moving the bike stand; (4) the use of the
Mr. Groon reiterated his suggestions through the use of a drawing for those present.
The Clerk stated that the costs associated with the project are one element in conjunction with the funding mechanism in the 2008 budget and (potentially) the 2009 budget, and to what extent those limits would be must be finalized.
Mr. Groon stated that that is a hard issue to determine since there have been changes made to the scope of the project, and the rough costs included new buildings and other projects. He indicated that he did not know what direction the funding would take, but his “immediate reaction” would be that it might have to be a phased project, with some funding being budgeted in 2008 and some in 2009 in addition to removing some of the landscaping. Mrs. Gould inquired if her understanding that the landscaping cost was $75,000 was correct. Mr. Groon responded that $75,000 is not correct. The Engineer interjected that the $75,000 was for “miscellaneous plantings” and it was his opinion that the Borough would not be satisfied with $75,000 in landscaping. Mr. Groon’s opinion was that the Borough deal with the infrastructure in the first phase. Mr. Groon asked Mr. Cabrera and Mrs. Gould for their thoughts with regard to his earlier suggestions.
Mrs. Gould stated that she would prefer not to move the bike stand if at all possible, especially if it would involve CAFRA. The Engineer added that if no new structures are built, the CAFRA process should be much easier. He went on to state that the park itself requires an individual permit. Mrs. Gould said that the brick steps behind the gazebo are extremely deteriorated and should be removed or replaced.
Mr. Groon stated that the Borough was fortunate to receive a grant for approximately $300,000 from the State of New Jersey, and it is the belief of the Commissioners that those grants are going to “dry up” and disappear. He added that the total cost of the project would be reduced by the amount of the grant. Additionally, there is a congestion problem on Rambler Road at the beach, and the Borough is going to have to make major changes to that area. The bathrooms are not functional and do not contain handicapped accommodations. The popularity of the bike path would also be enhanced by the project. Additionally, the project would provide parking for the fitness park two blocks north as well as other areas. The parking lot would also support the beach patrols handicapped transport project which is becoming more and more popular.
Mr. Cabrera stated that the conversation on this project started in 2007. The original idea was to have beachfront parking, ADA parking spaces and to increase or add handicapped bathrooms. The Borough recently received notification of the award of the $308,000 grant. To do the project “right,” the gazebo, the bike stand, the beach patrol headquarters and the Nesbitt Center should all “come down” since those buildings are very old and deteriorated. But since cost is an issue, it appears that the gazebo will remain. The bike stand is also in poor condition and will require an upgrade. The Nesbitt Center also requires substantial work. He indicated that “to do it the right way” the Borough could spend over $1 million and probably close to $2 million on the project. The question becomes how to take this property and create a really unique recreational space for the residents and tourists, as well as create a revenue producer (parking) for the Borough and upgrade the entire area. In his opinion, the priority in the area would be the parking and the security and access to the bike path, as well as landscaping. He mentioned the fitness park and indicated his opinion that it is unique because of all of the greenery and flowers. He added that he is not opposed to phasing the project, although he is not a big advocate of phasing.
The Clerk interjected that based upon these discussions, the Engineer should put together a cost estimate to be considered by the Commissioners at the meeting of April 23, 2008 for inclusion in the 2008 budget. Mr. Groon asked if Mrs. Gould and Mr. Cabrera were in agreement with this proposed changes. The Clerk responded that it was his impression that they were. The Engineer inquired if the parking lot next to the bike stand could be made a part of the bike path, with a cul-de-sac at the end of the bike path to define the entrance. Mr. Groon agreed. The Engineer added that parking would be provided in the new parking lot.
Mr. Cabrera inquired if the gazebo would remain; does the bike stand remain; will the Nesbitt Center be renovated to include bathrooms. Mrs. Gould and Mr. Groon responded in the affirmative. Mr. Groon added that he is not happy about the bike stand. The Clerk stated that the difficulty would be in trying to relocate the structure. Mr. Groon responded by stating that the structure will be around for thirty years, that the capital investment to the community over the last twenty years has been insignificant, and “this is our last shot.” He said that he would like to see it done so that the gazebo can be a nice area and not bounded by a parking lot, a playground and the bike stand. It was his opinion that the Borough can be more creative with the design.
Mr. Cabrera inquired if the idea would be to phase in the remainder of the proposed projects, including landscaping. Mr. Groon responded that if the Borough can do the project with funds set aside in 2008 for all the hard infrastructure, it was his opinion that that would be the way to go. Then in 2009 the landscaping could be completed. The Clerk interjected that the Engineer should obtain definitive cost estimates prior to making that decision. Mr. Groon concurred.
Mr. Groon inquired about the five parking spaces at the Nesbitt Center. It was the Engineer’s opinion, and Mr. Groon concurred, that those spaces should be eliminated and made a part of the bike path. Mr. Groon stated that there is too much congestion in the area to permit parking at those spots. The question was raised as to whether the bike stand has allotted parking as part of their lease with the Borough. The Clerk indicated he did not believe so, but that he would verify that by reviewing the current lease agreement.
The next matter for discussion was the loss in state aid. The CFO reported that since introduction of the budget, he has received verification from the State that the Borough has received $12,250 Clean Communities Grant, as well as notice from the County that the Municipal Public Improvement Joint Venture Program will continue in 2008 with the Borough’s allocation being $59,119. He indicated that the budget will have to be amended to accommodate those grants.
The CFO indicated that the State Aid being lost by the Borough is $134,321. It was the CFO’s opinion that the Borough’s budget will be required to be adopted prior to the State’s budget, and that may not occur until July. In that event, the Borough would have a problem getting tax bills out and cash flow could become a problem. He indicated that there were a couple of “bad” numbers in the introduced budget that he wanted to clean up and then move forward with the budget process.
With regard to the Rambler Road project, the CFO indicated that the introduced 2008 budget will fund $1.1 million of the project. That $1.1 million would be reduced by the $308,000 grant. Therefore, the amount to be raised by the Borough and the debt authorization required would be $757,000. There is adequate downpayment provided in the budget as introduced. In terms of phasing, he advised the Commissioners to not feel they are restricted to the $850,000 number in the capital budget.
Mr. Groon inquired of the CFO if there was a possibility of “moving some money internally” within the budget for legal OE. He indicated that it may have to be “fairly substantial.” The CFO responded in the affirmative.
The Clerk inquired if there were any other proposed amendments. There were none. The Clerk then added for the record that the lease agreement with the bike stand is silent as to any parking provisions for those leasing said concession rentals.
Jim Johnstone, 300 East Miami Avenue, stated that he liked the Rambler Road project, but with the $134,00 in lost State Aid, the Borough cannot afford it. He suggested that the $134,000 should be cut from the budget, taking away from every unit in the Borough. As far as the Rambler Road project, he asked why the Borough does not leave the area “natural” in order to save on maintenance. With regard to the proposed parking lot, Mr. Johnstone stated that several years ago the subject of a parking lot was raised and the response was that a “pervious” parking lot would be required. He inquired if it would be “pervious.” The Engineer responded in the affirmative, adding that it will be porous asphalt. Mr. Johnstone also suggested changing Rambler Road to one-way to accommodate the traffic, or perhaps put a crossing guard in the area. The Clerk inquired how Mr. Johnstone would propose getting back from the beach, via a turn-around, on a one-way street end. The Engineer added that Rambler Road cannot be one-way because it is a dead-end. Mr. Johnstone inquired if it is a possibility for the bike stand to be moved to another location. Mr. Groon responded that the possibility had not been discussed, but the present location is very good since it is at the end of the bike path.
Jim Loftus, 8907 New Jersey Avenue, commented on the parking issues at Rambler Road, indicating that there is “an awful lot of macadam to accommodate a drive through.” He inquired if there was the possibility of setting back an area on Ocean as a drop-off area without having to enter Rambler Road. Mr. Cabrera responded that there will be handicapped parking spaces in that area. Mr. Groon stated that Mr. Loftus’ suggestion was “not a bad idea” but he would be uncomfortable with dropping people off, including handicapped persons and children, who would then have to traverse the parking lot. Mr. Loftus stated that as an alternative, perhaps the parking area at the Nesbitt Center could be a drop off area instead of a designated parking area. Mr. Groon said that one of the proposals discussed in the early stages of the project was to remove all of the metered parking spaces on Rambler Road in order to open up the area. He stressed that there has been no final determination on that matter.
Frank Basile, 5711 New Jersey Avenue, suggested that the parking issue with the bike stand is “silent,” perhaps a more rectangular structure could be provided in order to accommodate a turn- around area. He also suggested a bike stand on the west side of the bike path. Mr. Groon stated that at this point the Commissioners will have to yield to the Engineer in that regard.
Jack Morey, Port Royal Hotel, stated that the fitness park has been very enjoyable for his patrons and it helps define the community. With regard to the Rambler Road project, Mr. Morey indicated that he is very pleased to see this kind of development and dedication to open space. He indicated that he was seeing a “lack of a comprehensive plan” because of the differences between the Commissioners. He went on to state that it would be a shame to take three blocks and focus only on two because of budgetary issues. He indicated that there should be a “well thought out, well loved master plan for the area.” Mr. Groon responded that for the most part the Commissioners agree on the plan, and the differences are minor. He asked Mr. Morey what he thought the plan was lacking and what he felt the community needs in the area. Mr. Morey responded that if the gazebo were to be removed, it would open up many other opportunities. It was his opinion that the gazebo should “come down.” He added that a better plan could be developed for the bike path if the bike stand were to be moved. He indicated his understanding of the CAFRA matters, but added his opinion that “we should not rush ahead without fully understanding what those hurdles are.” Finally, how Rambler Road ties in with the rest of the project is critical, from an aesthetics standpoint as well as a functional standpoint. The Solicitor interjected that Mr. Morey had indicated that the park had been dedicated as open space, and that is incorrect and it will not be legally dedicated to public open space.
Ed Masterson, 7301 Pacific, stated that Rambler Road is the epicenter of the Borough’s summer activity. He agreed that the parking spaces at the Nesbitt Center should be removed, and approved of the drop-off area.
Louise Johnstone, 300 East Miami Avenue, stated that it had been her understanding that the gazebo was in memory of Mr. Morey’s mother and father and, after hearing Mr. Morey state that the gazebo should be removed, she expressed her agreement with that sentiment. She stated that to let the gazebo go would permit the “ease of the other processes” and the flow of the plan. Mrs. Gould stated that Mr. and Mrs. Morey had donated the gazebo as a clear “overview” from Ocean Place. It then became an entertainment center for the community. Mrs. Gould said that Mr. Groon has voiced his opinion that he would like to see the gazebo go, and Mrs. Gould voiced her opinion that she would like to see the gazebo stay. Mrs. Johnstone inquired if it was the goal to have a “nice gazebo” at the fitness park. Mr. Groon responded that he was not sure a gazebo is the appropriate word, but some type of pavilion is being explored, to be placed closer to the bike path in the proposed grassy area. Mr. Groon added that it was his opinion that that will be “the place” once the pavilion is completed. Mrs. Johnstone stated her opinion that the gazebo at Rambler Road has “outlived its purpose.”
John Way, inquired if the area at Rambler Road will still be available for parking for events such as craft shows and lifeguard races. Mr. Groon responded that his initial reaction would be “probably not.” He added that there will be approximately 60 new parking spaces in the proposed parking lot, and he was not sure he would want parking on any new grass to be planted at the park. An unidentified member of the audience interjected that the Hobie races take up a lot of space. The Clerk and Mr. Groon responded that they have moved to Wildwood. The Clerk added that the Hobie participants had requested permission to camp overnight on the beach and Wildwood Crest would not permit that due to our current ordinances as well impact to the local hotels and motels.
Louise Johnstone inquired about what happened with the discussion of moving the information center from the Nesbitt Center to the Crest Pier. Mr. Groon responded that he had suggested that “sometime ago” and the Commissioners as a whole decided to “support the status quo.”
Mr. Cabrera inquired of those present if the consensus was to remove the gazebo or have it remain. Mr. Morey responded that it would not bother him to see it go. Mr. Cabrera then inquired “if the gazebo goes, the bike shop should be relocated from that area to somewhere else.” Mr. Cabrera clarified his question by stating that in his mind, it should be an “all or nothing type thing” with the gazebo and the bike stand both being removed, and the bike stand being relocated. Mr. Cabrera asked for comments from the audience. One member of the audience asked if a bigger turn around could be installed where the gazebo is and “make it a big giant circle.” Mr. Cabrera stated that the idea was cost savings, and he felt that he was getting mixed signals from the public regarding the fate of the gazebo and the bike shop. The Engineer interjected that if the bike shop was not at its present location, the bike path could be extended closer to the intersection. The Clerk stated that an add alternate could be placed in the bid specifications for a new gazebo, or possible relocation of the bike stand. Mr. Groon stated that the original idea was not to utilize the existing two buildings, and then it evolved. He added that it is not an easy decision to make and the three Commissioners have generally tried to reduce the scope of the project from the beginning to try to keep the costs down.
An unidentified member of the audience responded to Mr. Cabrera’s inquiry that he would be in favor of the gazebo being torn down, the bike stand being relocated and as a result having a much better focus on the transportation and circulation between cars and people.
Another member of the audience inquired if the bike stand could be moved to another location closer to the bike path. Mr. Groon advised that it would create problems since it would be in the V-Zone. He added that it would make the project much more lengthy and costly, and the Commissioners were trying to avoid some of those obstacles. He concluded by stating that moving the bike stand to that spot would not be advantageous to the Borough.
Mr. Morey stated that it was his opinion that the project should be constructed from a master plan and, if the entire project is too costly, it should be phased. Mr. Groon responded that no one is excited about phasing, but if it is necessary it will be done.
There being no further matters for discussion, Mr. Cabrera motioned, seconded by Mrs. Gould, that the meeting be adjourned.
Dated: April 23, 2008