Berkeley Officials Examine Restoration Efforts In Beach Areas

The Barnegat Bay (Photo by Jason Allentoff)

BERKELEY – Berkeley Township officials paid tribute to several residents as they named restored recreation areas within the community during the committee’s caucus meeting on June 26.

Mayor Carmen F. Amato noted that the Mastapeter family had sold their property to the township for its assessed value, which allowed for restoration plans in that area to proceed. The family lost their home during Superstorm Sandy.

“The assessed value is all we could pay by requirements. We had recently installed some playground equipment and bulk heading. We are rebuilding it and in honor of the family we wish to call it Mastapeter Park.

Amato added that the refurbished playground in the park would be named after a deceased teacher from the Potter Elementary School. “In honor of Kimberly Mason we will be calling it the Angel Playground.”

The mayor went on to say that the beach itself would be called Clifford Wright Beach in honor of Clifford Wright, a well-known First Aid Squad member who died.

The mayor reported to the council that the township had received an $80,000 grant from the Alexandria Playground Organization, which had raised funds for playground equipment in honor of Alexandria Vitali in the Butler Beach section of the community.

Amato said that he had worked with Councilman James J. Byrnes regarding the grant project. He also noted that while the Mason family had relocated to Florida, “they will be back in New Jersey for a family event and we’d like to hold a dedication in September.”

Business Administrator John Camera reported that an ordinance concerning bulk heading repairs would be reintroduced with an amendment removing the word “repair,” saying it “Compelled people to do costly work for some minor repairs. The ordinance has been worked on for months and in reviewing it we found some typos and some changes in terminology that needed to be fixed. Repairs are not the same as new.”

Camera added that if the ordinance were approved in its prior form, “Engineering work would have required several thousands of dollars be spent instead of several hundred dollars in some cases.”

“I feel we need to protect residents. The amendment is fine,” Byrnes told Camera, who asked him for his opinion as Byrnes had been involved in the drafting of the ordinance.

The impact of Superstorm Sandy resurfaced later in the session when Councilman Byrnes noted that unoccupied homes in the Glen Cove section of the township still existed. “They are unoccupied and have not been lived in since Sandy.”

Councilwoman Judy Noonan questioned whether staff of the township’s building department had turned away residents who had come to their office and were told that they needed to apply for permits and inspections applications online. “They should be accommodated when they come into the office and not turned away.”

Berkeley Town Hall (Photo by Micromedia Publications)

Township Planner James M. Oris said that the application process can be done within the office and not only online and was not aware of any reason why an applicant would be told that this was policy.

Noonan also brought up concerns of residents complaining about issues of the building department, who said they were afraid that their paperwork would be deliberately lost.

Bynes said “I’m not a fan of the building department and how they do permits and I agree with Councilwoman Noonan. Byrnes did commend Building Inspector Bob O’Brien who he said “has been doing a lot of inspections on his own while the department has been short on staff.”

Camera said he would look into the matter.

Leeanne Zoppi was among several South Seaside Park residents who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting regarding conditions within that portion of the township. Zoppi also noted abandoned homes in her area and asphalt and other material in area waterways by the bay.

Don Whiteman said that between 22nd and 23rd avenues, “you have people slipping on these green bricks.”

Another South Seaside Park resident noted the need for repairs to snow fencing in that same vicinity, stating a large amount of snow that blows on to the road that needs to be cleaned up.”

Township Engineer Alan B. Dittenhofer said that a “substantial amount of asphalt and concrete was removed from that area.”

“We have cedar blocks that go out into the water that aren’t covered up. There has been so much dumping there for years,” Whiteman said.