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Despite Some Protest, $3.6M Traders Cove Contracts Awarded

$3.6 million awarded to two companies for the Traders Cove redevelopment project

The township council, in a 3-2 vote Friday morning, awarded two contracts that add up to about $3.6 million for the Traders Cove redevelopment project.

The township council used the annual year-end morning meeting to vote on the two contracts, which will include the second phase of redevelopment – essentially, adding all of the elements, including parking, that will be needed to turn the former derelict marina into a park – and the construction of a spray park at the site that officials hope will generate revenue for the township.

The contracts are separated into two items: a $3 million contract for the second phase of work at the site and a $643,200 contract for the installation of a splash park at the site. The larger contract was awarded to Eagle Construction of Burlington; the smaller contract would be awarded to Stone Ridge Aquatic Construction of Feasterville, Pa.

Council members Dan Toth and Domenick Brando – the two Republicans who will remain on the council in 2012 – broke with fellow GOP council members and voted against awarding the contracts. Council members Brian DeLuca, Michael Thulen and John Catalano voted in favor of awarding the contracts. Council members Ruthanne Scaturro and Joseph Sangiovanni were not present at the meeting.

John Ducey, who will take a seat on the council Jan. 1, took issue with the contract award and asked the council to hold off on a vote until the new council is seated.

"This is right at the very last meeting," he told DeLuca, the council president. "With these contracts, is there any important reason why it has to be done by Dec. 31?"

Business Administrator Scott Pezarras said no grants were at stake, but if the idea of the opening the park for the summer of 2012 was to come to fruition, construction would have to start in the next couple of weeks since the state Department of Environmental Protection will not allow certain types of construction work during the winter flounder migration.

Winter flounder are abundant near the Mantoloking Bridge, which abuts the would-be park.

"If that's not done, basically you're going to end up with a dirt pile there for another season," Pezarras said.

But for council members on both sides, the arguments were more philosophical in nature.

"Why, at this time, when homes are being foreclosed on, people are out of jobs, why are we spending money on something like a water park?" asked Ducey.

Thulen said that by developing the park, the township would actually be putting people to work, and the facility would eventually begin to generate revenue for the township.

"This money has already been put aside," said Thulen. "It's a plan that was put together three or four years ago."

Indeed, the funding for both the project's second phase and the splash park was appropriated in the 2010 capital budget. The funds cannot, by law, be transferred to the operating budget, Pezarras said.

"I just don't feel that $3.6 million, 36 hours before you leave office, is necessary," Ducey said.

Toth, explaining his vote against the plan, echoed the thoughts of his colleague-to-be in Ducey.

"The financial times are not what they were ... when we acquired that piece of property," Toth said. "The ultimate goal for this should be a park, but the vision should be downsized a bit."

"I loved the idea for the spray park. I was one of the biggest proponents of it at the time. But that's a luxury that I don't think Brick Township wants to spent money on in this economy," said Toth.

"I believe it's a great project," said DeLuca. "I did when we started talking about it a few years ago, and I still do today."

Cathy Ericksen, the only township resident aside from incoming council members to speak on the issue, said she was in favor of moving forward with the project.

"This has been worked on for so long," she said. "I realize the new council hasn't been coming to meetings as long as I have. I've been coming for 10 years. I remember the work that went into this project."

Now that the contracts have been officially awarded, work can begin soon. Pezarras said crews may start as soon as Jan. 16. The park, officials say, will most likely be ready by mid-summer 2012.

Scott Pezarras December 31, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Reality That needs to be established by a fee ordinance of the Twp., same with parking and bus parking. If it is the will of the council not to have buses go their, I would suggest a similar ordinance to govern that situation at Trader's Cove that is in effect at Windward Beach which requires a large permit fee for buses.
Scott Pezarras December 31, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Time Most of this debt is for road infrastructure, equipment and open space purchase, as well as recreational infrastructure and the landfill closure. Many of these things do not produce revenue but they need to be maintained, otherwise if left to dengrate the cost to replace the infrastructure is far worse than maintaining.
George December 31, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Exactly time for change especially when you have people who don't have a clue on how to manage money.
TimeForChange December 31, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Hello Scott, Happy New Year to you and your family. I a bit confused by your statement. The will of the council or the will of the Brick taxpayer? Shouldn't the council be representing the taxpayer and heed the will of the taxpayer? Stating that it is "the will of the council" certainly give the impression that our voices do not matter at all.
Scott Pezarras December 31, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Morrissey No need to go into your never ending chant to fire me, I was only answering the inquiry about busses, I effectuate policy I can not make it
Scott Pezarras December 31, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Time Thanks. While you are correct, these decisions are made by the council as we live in a reprsentative democracy in which the people elect the policy makers, and once elected it is the elected officials that ultimately have the power to set policy and laws through their elected term not the individual constituents. Happy New Year to you and yours as well.
Reality December 31, 2011 at 10:42 PM
Scott, Thanks for your very prompt reply. I think I accidentally hit "flag as inappropriate" to your response to me. Sorry about that. I would have hoped/thought that the council would have figured out what they are going to charge BEFORE actually contracting to build the SprayPark. I am under the impression that Brick must charge the same fee to residents and non-residents alike. Please correct me if I'm wrong. If my assumption is correct, I think it is a lose-lose situation for the Brick taxpayer. Here's why: If we charge too much, it will be financially difficult for the average Brick family to utilize the Park on a regular basis. If we charge too little or nothing at all, it will be quickly over-populated with non-Brick residents. Non-Brick residents will love this scenario since they will benefit from the Park at the Brick taxpayers expense. Sort of how Summerfest was very widely advertised by Mayor Scarpelli as being free. We all know it was only "free" if you were not a Brick taxpayer! I recognize you do not make the decisions, so I'm not blaming you. I just don't believe any long-term thinking went into this decsion to build the Water/Spray/Sprinkle or whatever you want to call it Park.
Scott Pezarras December 31, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Reality You are correct about charging, it must be uniform. To charge or not to charge is something the Twp deals with on a day to day basis as far as services go. Just look at other towns, they offer bulk pick ups a limited number of times per year and then have a per stop charge if you exceed that number. Other towns do not have a recycling center or drop off ( DPW hill), you simply would have to go to the dump on your own. These decisions are all quality of life decisions. There is no right or wrong way to handle these scenarios, it is a matter of policy. Do you put lights up at ballfields? Do you install curbs and sidewalks in an area? Do you install synthetic fields? Speed tables? Where do you have traffic enforcement? Install more street lights? All of these things are decided by elected officials, but there are always projects that the constituency wants funded. As far as Summerfest goes. Currently, and for quite some time, NO tax dollars are spent to run the event, it is all charged to a dedicated rider account. This is evidenced by the fact that there is no operating acct in the Twp's budget for Summerfest.
bcdepaul December 31, 2011 at 11:15 PM
Missing from the story are the award winning contractors.
Scott Pezarras December 31, 2011 at 11:23 PM
bcdepaul Eagle Ridge Construction Jackson, NJ will build the park and Stone Ridge Aquatic, Feasterville, PA will install the water park and construct the pumphouse.
Reality December 31, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Scott - Since you brought it up - There absolutely should be an account for Summerfest. Frankly, I'm shocked that you state there is not! There should be a line-by-line accounting for ALL expenses and ALL donations from ALL sponsors. That way, taxpayers would know that expenses are actually being covered 100% by the sponsors. Futher, it should be clearly and easily accessible on the Township website! Also, I'm very confused by the examples that you give. Out-of-town teams cannot use our Township ballfields unless they are playing a Brick team. Out-of-town teams, not playing against a Brick school, can only use our school fields if they pay a fee. In addition, non-Brick residents cannot use our recycling center. So I guess my response to your examples is simply, "huh?" I stand by my statement that this is a lose-lose scenario for the average Brick family!
Scott Pezarras January 01, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Reality I didn't say there was no accounting I said it doesn't get paid from taxes it comes a dedicated rider account. And out of town teams can use our fields if they are not already permtted and pay a fee. It sounds like what you are suggesting is a pay to play scenario for every service offered by a town or pay taxes based on service levels, Either scenario would take either State legislation or local ordinances to invoke. To illustrate if you live on the south side of town and a road gets paid on the north side in a devlopment you don't actually benefit, right. So why should that concept not be extended through all improvement and service scenarios? Those are decisions that every branch of government makes everyday. You don't use a County park in Tuckerton but you you do pay for it, don't you? You may never go to a National or State park but we all pay for those. It is what make a community or a nation desireable.
Reality January 01, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Scott - I have absolutely no problem with fellow Brick taxpayers who may live in a different section of town getting their roads paved. THAT'S EXACTLY MY POINT. THANK YOU. As Brick RESIDENTS, they are paying taxes to Brick Township and are sharing the burden. Obviously, you think this Water Park is good long-term planning and makes economic sense for the Brick taxpayer. Just as our council members do. Thank goodness that majority is out of here in just a few hours!!
Brick January 01, 2012 at 02:53 PM
How much is the insurance going to cost the town for the marina?
John C January 01, 2012 at 10:24 PM
George your opinions are very short sighted, interest rates are down and contractors are submitting bids for work at a greatly reduced amount as is the case in any economic downturn. It is a good time to take on a long term project as well as provide jobs for local construction workers.
John C January 01, 2012 at 10:25 PM
2013
John C January 01, 2012 at 10:26 PM
what do you base this estimation on? don't you think that the state DEP had to approve the plans?
John C January 01, 2012 at 10:28 PM
do you feel this way about the beaches? the beach badge sales pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the beaches.
John C January 01, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Are you going to swim in the bay with all those jellyfish?
Betty Ann January 03, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Scott, Happy New Year. I have a question. Wouldn't or shouldn't the parking fees for this marina park be the same as for parking at Brick Beach I, III and Bay Beach Park? If that is correct, then, no matter who uses the park, everyone pays. $1.00/hour by the meters. Problem here on the island is, after hours and specifically near dusk/dark, there are many vehicles parked at Bay Beach Park, sitting in cars exchanging packages between windows, and also those who choose to sleep in the gazebo all night, even though the ordinance says otherwise.
Jonnyboy January 03, 2012 at 03:28 PM
A few comments, first off I ride by the Traders Cove often, and I must say the first phase looks great !!! For the person who made the comment about sod, there is no sod, as I see it. It was sprayed with the green stuff that contains grass seed and as of last week, you can see grass growing. As far as the rest of the park goes, what many are saying about non-residents, fees etc. I have to agree. Perhaps as tax-payers go, I think all of the fees should be discounted for residents, i.e. beaches, parks, etc. I also think that it is absurd we have to pay for parking after the beaches close after 5pm, I enjoy the "free" concerts in the evenings there. A question I have is there going to be a fee to park just to use the dock for crabbing & fishing, and will it be a 24 hr parking fee as well, or wiil you have to pay for parking to launch your boat and pay a launching fee as well. I'm sure these are the things the Council will have to work out like Scott mentioned. I say, let them move foward and see what happens and if problems arise deal with them then. If too many problems arise from out-of-towners, then maybe they can put another trailer like at Brick 1 as a mini Police Station, just it's presence alone may deter the riff-raff's.
nan January 03, 2012 at 06:14 PM
John, thank you for your opinion. Mine may differ as well as many others. That is the biggest reason this should have been left for a few days for the new council to determine what is best. The year end meeting is held at 10A for the sole purpose of closing the books i.e., paying the bills before the end of the year not for serious business decisions. Acting in haste may cause all of us to repent at leisure. Not to mention the insults. Seems some have become immune to insults at least when the insults are to those you feel are wrong because they are not in your party.
nan January 03, 2012 at 06:30 PM
At least the posts here had less name calling. Perhaps, we can all make a New Year's resolution that we will post our opinions without insulting others? In response to attacks on Scott Pezarras, he does his job as many of us did. We did what the Boss told us to do. He is not the decision maker. I find no reason to call for his removal. From what I have observed he has intelligence and knows his craft better than anyone else I have observed in his seat. If you want him removed submit facts to us the voters and taxpayers that support your reasoning.
Mark Story Jenks January 03, 2012 at 08:29 PM
John C: I have about as much faith in the State DEP as you have in a stick.
Sal Petoia January 03, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Regarding Traders Cove, the park is probably a "nice to have", but can we afford it? The township is now committed to completing most of the project, but do we really need a "spray park"? Those who reject the condo scenario forget those plans included a part of the site to be open to the public. Condos would have generated income to the town without burdening services while still providing recreation for the public, a "win-win" situation. Making the site into a total park has its merits as well, but whether it will be a money maker for the town or a financial drain is not known. Also unknown is any negative effect caused by an influx of outsiders. When the Traders Cove property was first being considered the decision should have been left to the people. A cost analysis could have compared the monetary gain to the township if the site was developed with condos to what would be the net gain or loss if developed totally as a park. With that information the taxpayers could have decided by referendum the preferred option. Before committing the town to add millions of dollars more to its debt, the people should be consulted first. When knowing the facts and the people approve, fine. But with the current economy, we need to rein in free spending elected officials who act without the peoples' consent. Some may say we elect people to make the big decisions, but too often they forget who's paying for them.
John C January 03, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Sal you are failing to account that a large number of residents of the town as well as Save Barnegat Bay did oppose the condos and signed petitions and attended the council meetings to demand that the condo project be stopped and that the town purchase the property. There were articles in the paper and editorials etc. If there were any groups objecting they must not have made their objections known or seemed to be fewer in number than those in favor of acquisition. Remember the purchase was made under the prior administration. that purchased a great deal of undeveloped open space that is not generating any income as well as built the drum point sports complex. This is no different from when Windward Beach was purchased and developed by the town.
Sal Petoia January 03, 2012 at 11:09 PM
John: A large number of residents opposed the exceeding of the 2% tax increase as well, but it was the referendum that really counted. With the Traders Cove site, nobody told the people what the cost impact would be. Had that been done, people may have decided in favor of condos. But at any rate, the people's will would have been done. A similar situation took place with the Ice Palace. Administration unilaterally decided to buy, but the SOS group intervened to have the people decide the issue by referendum. Of course, faced with the prospect of the people making the decision, the mayor and council backed down. The people must have the final say on big spending projects, especially when high taxes are driving people out of their homes.
Sal Petoia January 03, 2012 at 11:17 PM
And John, it doesn't matter whose administration purchased the site. Purchasing land to retain open space is actually less costly to the township than allowing construction of homes on the site when considering the school costs incurred in educating the children derived from those homes. Traders Cove was different since no children were anticipated, thus the town would have gained more in tax revenue than what it would lose in providing services. Nonetheless, my opinion stands.... let the people decide the costly issues.
Sean Conneamhe January 03, 2012 at 11:46 PM
"Windward Beach was for many years a taxpaying, private ly-owned, recreation park complete with a bathing beach, playing fields, picnic grove, bathrooms, parking lot, and a pavilion FontSync a snack bar and pinball machines." "The Township bought the property when the owner announced he was considering closing the park and subdividing the property into single-family lots for which it was zoned." "Windward Beach was an existing recreation facility, which needed no improvements, but the Township eventually spent millions of dollars in additional structures. In addition, the Summerfest program was started, which still disrupts the neighborhood and costs the Township thousands of dollars each year when the true expenses are calculated." "Mantoloking Cove Marina should have never been approved for condos, which are not a permitted use, and should have never been bought by the Township. It should have remained private property and it would have been redeveloped like Winters Marina across the street when Hinckley bought it. Instead, the Township bought it, aptly renamed it Traders Cove and is now sinking millions of dollars into the mud."
disgusted homeowner January 04, 2012 at 02:41 AM
At a time when many folks have their backs against wall financially, Is this spray park a TRUE NECESSITY??????? The original concept for this site was very pasive in nature with the fishing pier and a more "park like setting". Now it sounds full steam ahead with commercial interests at mind. Banquet hall?? Please no. At a time when the money involved could be used for more important items like maybe buying some new equipment and snow plow trucks in public works or maybe, just maybe lowering the tax rate for the citizens of Brick may be more important????? Oh and by the way, Mr. Art Sholty, please go back to Bloomfield ASAP!!!! I'll even donate the increased toll money for you to go.........

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