Ocean City Goes Forward With Skate Park Application

first_imgThe parking lot adjacent to the Ocean City Fire Department designated in a grant application as the site for a new skateboard park.City Council voted 6-0 Thursday to submit an application for a grant that could help pay for a new skateboard park in Ocean City.The application designates a city-owned parking lot next to the Ocean City Fire Department as the preferred site for a park — an announcement that took neighbors by surprise when it was first published here on March 24.Thursday’s vote is a small step in a process that could bring a new $750,000 concrete skate park to the island to replace a smaller park that was shut down by the city in 2011.Council spent much of a public meeting on Thursday reassuring those potentially affected by the proposed skateboard park location that their concerns would be addressed.“We will make sure we take our time and vet this properly,” Council President Tony Wilson said.The idea of returning a park to somewhere in Ocean City enjoys universal support, and skaters, parents and other community members have rallied around the proposed location on the 500 block of Asbury Avenue. But the skate park would eliminate some parking in a lot that residents in the nearby Historic District rely on, and it would displace the Ocean City Ecumenical Council Clothes Closet, which offers free clothing to Ocean City residents in need.The proposal calls for moving the Clothes Closet building to another parking lot on the opposite side of the Fire Department.“We are not against anything,” said Kris Stanwood, a trustee and past president of the Ocean City Ecumenical Council. “We are for something — the integrity of the Clothes Closet.”Stanwood said the Clothes Closet has concerns about parking and accessibility for users, volunteers and the people who donate 23,000 pieces of clothing each year. She said the group was encouraged by a Wednesday meeting with city officials.“Promises were made to us,” Stanwood said to council members. “Please make sure those promises are kept.”Mayor Jay Gillian, Wilson and most council members repeated those promises — that the Clothes Closet would lose nothing in any transition. Councilman Pete Guinosso abstained from the vote as a member of the Ecumenical Council.“This piece of legislation is about applying for a grant,” Councilman Mike DeVlieger said. “It’s not about moving anything.”DeVlieger is head of a committee of elected officials, city staff members and local skaters who helped plan a new park. He said he had been encouraged by county officials to seek a Green Acres Cape May County Recreation Grant.“They said if you want to do something good, why not do something great,” DeVlieger said. “We have the opportunity to do something extraordinary.”The group envisions a state-of-the-art concrete park (see rendering) that would be safe, quiet and would stand the test of time. DeVlieger said the park could accommodate both bikes (without pegs) and skateboards (only at different hours).He said a town-hall discussion on April 4 (read more) yielded plans that could create more new parking spaces than the number eliminated at the proposed site.“These are ideas we can implement sooner than the park,” DeVlieger said.The city dismantled a park near Sixth Street and the Ocean City Boardwalk in 2011, citing safety concerns over deteriorating equipment. That park had opened in 2002 at a cost of a little more than $130,000. Since then, the city administration has promised to rebuild the park, and City Council has approved a capital plan that calls for spending $250,000 on the project.“The biggest thing is to get our names in the hat for the potential money,” Ocean City resident Kirk Greaser said during public comment.Chris Pustizzi, a local Realtor and skater, said he has “taken some heat” for his support of the park. But he said he sees the park as “a win-win” for the community and for visitors.“We are America’s Greatest Family Resort,” Willie Fannon said. “I think we need this type of attraction for families.”See also: Group Zeroes In On Skate Park Site for Ocean City__________Sign up for OCNJ Daily’s free newsletter“Like” us on Facebooklast_img

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