• February 20, 2020

Upper Twp. scraps plans for sidewalk on Neptune Drive - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Upper Twp. scraps plans for sidewalk on Neptune Drive

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Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2020 12:58 pm

UPPER TOWNSHIP — Township Committee decided to scrap plans to install sidewalks on Neptune Drive, a narrow street along the beach in the north end of Strathmere, after complaints from neighbors. 

Several property owners attended the Township Committee meeting Jan. 27 to argue that the proposed sidewalks were unnecessary and would prove disruptive to the neighborhood. 

The township received a $162,000 state grant to improve pedestrian safety in that area. In early December, township engineer Paul Dietrich updated committee members on the proposal. 

The road runs along the dune line from Williams Avenue to Seaview Avenue. 

“In short, Neptune Avenue does not need a sidewalk, period,” said Tom Bader of Moorestown, who owns property on the road. He was among several residents who attended the meeting to object to the sidewalk plans. 

He said there was no evidence that there is a safety issue on the road or that a sidewalk would improve matters, “and it has zero support from the people who would be impacted by the sidewalk.” 

He showed an image of two children walking along the road in summer, calling it a quiet area that is as remote as is possible to be in the beachside community. 

“There’s no through traffic. If people go on Neptune they want to go to someone’s house or they’re trying to get to the beach,” he said. “With all due respect to Mr. Dietrich, I think that this proposal really has zero evidence to back it up.” 

There were also issues of where the sidewalk should be placed, either along the property line or along the dunes. He said he supports initiatives to increase the sidewalks in the township in cases where new construction is being built. 

“But to jam an unnecessary sidewalk into an established, safe community is really an affront to the people who live there,” he said. “We care about our neighborhood, and God knows we care about the safety of our children and the safety of our grandchildren.”

According to Dietrich, residents of the neighborhood had requested township action to address a speeding problem, with one neighbor going so far as to install homemade speed bumps. 

Dietrich said the image of children walking along the middle of the road is an example of why sidewalks are needed, saying that is not where pedestrians should be. Pedestrian safety is a concern for Strathmere residents, he said, citing a county project completed last year to create a pedestrian and bike lane along the main road of Commonwealth Avenue. 

“Just from a standpoint of pedestrian circulation, it does makes sense to have proper pedestrian safety where people can walk out of the traffic lane,” he told Township Committee at the meeting. “They shouldn’t be walking down the middle of the road, regardless of how quiet it is.” 

Mayor Rich Palombo pointed out that many areas of the township lack sidewalks, especially in rural sections. He often walks his dogs along a road with no sidewalks, he said. 

Dietrich responded that most of those roads are a lot wider. 

Committeeman Curtis Corson said he walked down the center of Neptune recently and did not see a need to add sidewalks. 

“I guess I can see the point you’re making, Paul,” Palombo said. But he added that he received many emails from property owners who did not want the project. 

Corson asked if there was anyone from the public in favor of the project, and Palombo said he had not heard from any. 

“Well, I’d like to make a motion that we just pull the plug on the project and be done,” he said. 

Committeeman Ed Barr wanted more information, questioning the status of the grant and whether the township could use the money for another area. The township has not yet received any funds, Palombo said. Township attorney Dan Young said the township did sign an agreement and would need to be released from that agreement with the state. 

Dietrich said there would be no financial penalty for declining the grant. 

The grant could not be used elsewhere, Dietrich said. The township would have to apply for a new grant to put sidewalks in another area. He added that there would be no public support for the work at the meeting because the project was not on the agenda. 

“I just feel that if we haven’t received the grant yet, it’s not too late to cut ties and move forward,” Palombo said. 

Although several people attended the meeting to object to the plan, Bader was the only speaker on the topic. Township Committee voted to end the project before anyone else rose to address them during the public comment portion of the meeting. 

The resolution to scrap the proposal passed unanimously. 

Palombo said the proposal was made with good intentions. 

“I don’t think we do things to purposefully try to get people upset,” he said.

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