By Tommy De Seno, Asbury Park Historian, proud Blue Bishop and contributor to More Monmouth Musings
[PRELIMINARY NOTE TO FREEHOLDERS: I KNOW YOU ARE BUSY. IF YOU CAN’T READ ALL OF THIS ABOUT WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BUY A PARK IN ASBURY, SKIP TO REASON #6 BELOW. BUT I HOPE YOU WILL TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE WHOLE LETTER]
Asbury Park is everyone’s business. Why? The rest of the taxpayers in the State of New Jersey spend $60 million annually on the schools. Even though the High School graduates only about 95 students, they just installed an $800,000.00 turf football field. Go Blue Bishops.
The City turns to the State of New Jersey annually for $10-12 million to close their budget gap.
So yes – the business of Asbury Park is everyone’s business. We should all closely monitor their elections, but since they hold non-partisan elections in May they get ignored.
Now I’m not here to beat up the City by the Sea, the Urban Sand, my beloved childhood home of Asbury Park. If anyone cares to know I’ll gladly regale you with lectures on how Asbury Park got to be where it is (it isn’t just their fault) and how they should get to where they need to go.
But blog space compels me to limit my words to one issue at a time, and that issue right now has to do with the Monmouth County Parks Commission possibly purchasing a piece of land on Asbury Park’s beachfront.
Whatever you do, my dear Freeholders, don’t buy it.
First of all, this isn’t a piece of land the County wants or needs. It isn’t a piece of land the residents of Asbury Park want you to have. It’s a piece of land certain “activists” want the government to buy. They want the government to buy it because they oppose development. They usually oppose the government, except when they want the government to buy land they refuse to buy themselves on the open market.
By the way these “activists” wouldn’t vote for the current configuration of Freeholders whether you bought the land or not, but that’s beside the point.
The land in question is known locally as the Marine Grill site, the name of the restaurant that once stood there.
It is becoming known as the Bradley Cove site, named for the condominium development scheduled to be built there pursuant to the City’s redevelopment plans.
The Waterfront Redevelopment Plan was put in place by council members who have been in office through 3 terms (finally – stability in Asbury Park!). The residents of Asbury Park have thusly shown their support for the condos.
So who really opposes the condos? As best as I can tell it’s one guy. Is this guy running a grass roots organization? The first page of his online petition opposing the Condos was signed by people from Poland, Finland and France. France, for goodness sakes!!! Grass roots? No – pure Astroturf, Monsieur.
He once held a rally there, and 60 people showed up. From the photos I saw, no one was Black, so I’m confident this wasn’t a sudden swell of Asbury Park residents in protest. It was – something else.
Funny thing is, this fellow is now running for City Council in Asbury Park. On guess what issue? Look, I’m not saying he is a bad guy. I’m not saying don’t vote for him because of this issue.
I am saying the Freeholders shouldn’t bow to the manufactured pressure of one man and spend our money unwisely, particularly when the people of Asbury Park don’t want you to do it, nor the rest of the County.
The Asbury Park Sun is reporting that members of the Monmouth County Parks Commission met on February 22 with members of the Deal Lake Commission to discuss what the 3 to 10 acre park would look like.
You need to shut this down, dear Freeholders, and here are the reasons why you should:
- The problem with Asbury Park finances is a lack of ratable properties. Having 3 lakes the City is 11% water. There are 40 churches and those who have land aren’t ratable. There are about 80 registered non-profits. The west side is covered with federal tenements that aren’t ratable. The Waterfront Plan to build 3,000 taxable condos is smart, and the County should not impede that plan by blocking the Bradley Cove condos. Unless you don’t mind bailing out Asbury Park with $72 million each year.
- The City has many parks, including one two blocks away which is huge – about 6 City blocks long (also not ratable).
- The condos are selling! According to the Asbury Park Sun, the condominiums are selling out and the new ones are expected to as well.
- Homelessness and macroeconomics. The law of supply and demand is pretty well settled. Every time you take land away from the housing market, you drive up the price of existing housing stock, making it more difficult for the poor to live anywhere. Homelessness in Asbury Park is extant and the County even sends out folks to count them. County money would better be spent finding places for the people of Asbury Park to live, rather than taking land away from that opportunity and artificially driving up prices.
- Consider too how much it will cost the County each year to clean/maintain the park. And finally…
- It’s just a really bad idea.
Tommy De Seno is a lawyer and writer, whose published credits include FoxNews.com, Ricochet.com and DailyCaller.com.