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Monday, May 27, 2024

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Avalon Updates Public on Bay Park Marina Plans

AVALON LOGO SHUTTERSTOCK

By Vince Conti

AVALON – Plans for a makeover of Avalon’s Bay Park Marina were initially presented back in 2020. Then, as Administrator Scott Wahl said at a public meeting just days ago on Nov. 4, Covid hit. The pandemic “hit the pause button,” Wahl said. Contractors were not working, state permit agencies were not working, and the project came to a halt.
Now, as the renovation and beautification effort for the marina park kicks back into gear, Wahl reminded an in-person audience of about 20 and an equal number of interested parties participating through Zoom, of the three goals for the project.
The borough wants to improve resiliency at the park where flooding is an increasing problem, add widespread access for those with disabilities or just the mobility issues that come with age, and improve environmental sustainability. 
The presentation in the borough hall was largely handled by Scott Taylor of Taylor Design Group, a landscape architect and planning firm based in Mt. Laurel. The Bay Park Marina runs along Ocean Drive from 53rd to 57th streets.
The design concept includes a new bulkhead and boat launch ramp, an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant kayak launch and storage racks with improved ADA access throughout the facility, additional boat slips and parking and the relocation of an updated marina building and restrooms. The project also intends enhanced protection for nesting terrapins.  
One sure-to-be-welcomed aspect of the design is the use of the marina parking lot as a point of improved resiliency for the surrounding area. With an increase in the elevation of the boat ramp, the biggest danger for flooding comes from rain runoff which will be trapped in the parking area and dissipated by a new design for capture and drainage of the water. That part of the project will be the responsibility of borough engineers from Mott MacDonald. The end result should be considerably less flooding on Ocean Drive.
The pandemic-caused halt to the marina plans also gave rise to a new set of concerns raised by some of those in attendance at the presentation. The plans call for an outdoor seating area complete with a gazebo, envisioned as a place for peaceful contemplation, sipping coffee with a book or just watching a sunset. Some members of the public feared the area would be a draw for rowdy gangs of juveniles like those that have plagued the borough in the last two years. 
“It’s disgusting what they do,” said one woman. A couple who owns a nearby home can see loud gatherings with underage drinking and even fights. Implicit in these concerns was the notion that if the police find themselves limited in their response to juvenile misbehavior elsewhere, why would that not carry over here?
Taylor’s response included plans for motion detector lighting that would illuminate those entering the park after closing, increase police surveillance, security camera coverage and a belief that young people will not be attracted to an area in which they are illuminated just 50 feet from a major road. 
The park project is already being supported by over $1 million in county Open Space funding which will help defer costs and provide many of the smaller amenities throughout the park, including bike racks, a bicycle repair station, integrated signage and benches. A variety of indigenous plants will also be used to beautify and increase environmental sustainability throughout the facility. 
Along with the upgrade and relocation of the dock master building, the plans call for new ADA-accessible restrooms, a new accessible promenade and a terrapin barrier along Ocean Drive. 
Wahl warned that the project “is not a tomorrow thing,” cautioning that the completion of the engineering design work and the permitting process probably would mean going out to bid no earlier than mid-2023 with the earliest construction date being in the fall. 
Thoughts? Questions? Email vconti@cmcherald.com. 

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