ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Asbury Park may be cold and dreary come November, but when the sun is shining the beach and boardwalk are flush with locals and visitors alike.
In recent years, developer iStar has pumped big bucks into the city with the new Asbury Hotel and other prime properties. The city and iStar are now at odds, though, over a proposed boardwalk redevelopment plan.
“I think they got carried away, and are doing a land grab without community involvement and input, which I don’t think is right,” Asbury Park resident Hal Rothbaum said.
The boardwalk on the south side of the town’s convention hall is 30 feet wide, and the proposal for the north side would shrink the boardwalk down to 15 feet wide. Unlike the typical straight planks, a curvy line on a computer rendering shows how the grade-level boardwalk near 7th Avenue would curve slightly out onto the beach.
Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn says the deal dates back to 2002, ten years before Superstorm Sandy.
“I can’t even fault them too much, when the previous council took on the plan in 2002 no one was here, so a 15 foot boardwalk might have made sense,” she said. “Unfortunately a 15 foot boardwalk in 2018, when we have a record number of crowds and festivals, 15 feet doesn’t work.”
On Thursday, the council voted to halt construction. The beach and boardwalk are both owned by the city, and Istar is currently under contract to rebuild the latter.
Residents say the meandering boardwalk design takes away much needed beach space. There’s also a plan to turn green space into an exclusive private pool club.
“I just want to to keep the integrity of the city,” Asbury Park resident Candice Lynch said. “I grew up here in Neptune, I saw the good, the bad, and now the great so it just concerns me.”
Others say the private pool club would go against what the city’s all about.
“Asbury Park stands for inclusion, respect, openness, and transparency,” Rothbaum said. “We feel what is proposed over here with the private pool club is pretty much the opposite symbol.”
Istar declined to comment. The city is hoping the company can work with it to look at the 2002 plan through a 2018 lens.