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.

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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