Parking Continues To Be Issue At The Jersey Shore

There are a few parking spots near the entrance to Island Beach State Park, but these fill up quickly. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  BERKELEY – There are beaches, restaurants, a marina and more in the South Seaside Park section of Berkeley – but not enough parking.

  This has been an issue in shore areas in general, and it’s no different for this section of town that gets its name because it’s literally south of Seaside Park. 

  When the Wheelhouse Marina closed, the township tried to acquire it for municipal purposes. Shore property is rare, and when it comes up for sale, towns will try to grab it before a developer does.

  Ultimately, the Wheelhouse Marina became a state-run marina. Officials spoke at the most recent Township Council meeting about trying to utilize that spot. Councilman James Byrnes mentioned that the location would be a good place for a pickleball court and Mayor Carmen Amato said the town would be interested in leasing a portion of the parking lot to help residents.

Most South Seaside Park homes don’t have driveways, which contributes to parking issues. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  Don Whiteman, a South Seaside Park resident, said that the area is packed with windsurfers on a windy day. They utilize the parking and then go to 24th and 23rd.

  The area has four streets and five bars, he said. People going to the bars will park on the residential side streets. Employees are competing with patrons for parking, and both groups close out residents. He asked officials if parking and traffic is taken into consideration when restaurants and taverns are being proposed.

  Township Planner Jim Oris said that the business owner pays for the traffic study, but the town is not responsible for doing their own study. The onus is on the developer.

  Generally speaking, when an application for a development is before a town’s land use board, the board can only make decisions based on that application. They can’t consider what’s already in the area. In other words, if the Planning Board is deciding whether to allow a new restaurant, they can’t deny it just because there are other restaurants in the area.

  “Parking is so bad in South Seaside Park, especially when Island Beach State Park closes,” Whiteman said. Then, everyone who had hoped to go to the state beach will instead go to the Berkeley ones. “Usually the beach people leave by 4, but then the restaurants start opening up.

  “If you don’t want to do anything, we’ll come up with a plan,” said Whiteman, who led his neighbors in an attempt to leave Berkeley a few years back.

Photo by Chris Lundy

  Byrnes said that there had been a study that suggested changing the South Seaside Park residential streets to one-way streets, which would create a narrower roadway. Then, the sides of the roads could have diagonal parking spaces.

  One contributing factor is that there are no curbs in front of most if not all homes. That leads to people parking anywhere on the stone that makes up the front of their property.

  “Everyone has a 50-foot driveway if they have a 50-foot lot,” said Bill McGrath, a planner and land surveyor who serves the town on a volunteer basis as a member of the Waterways Advisory Committee.

  Lavallette installed curbs which helped their parking situation, he said. It provided a 12.5-foot driveway opening for each lot, and the owner had some choice in where the driveway was. The cost for the curbing was prorated to each resident, which he admitted wouldn’t be popular.

The former Wheelhouse Marina site is now run by the state. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  “It opens up a tremendous amount of onstreet parking,” he said.

  No solution was decided during the course of the meeting.