2/22/17 Master Plan Meeting
By: Joseph L. Kuchie
SOUTH AMBOY – South Amboy residents come out in numbers to discuss the city’s Master Plan at last Wednesday’s Planning Board meeting.
South Amboy’s current Master Plan was completed for the city in 1974, with subsequent reexamination reports completed every 10 years in 1984, 1994, and 2004. The city, with the help of Heyer, Gruel & Associates from Red Bank, New Jersey, are beginning the process of preparing a completely new Master Plan.
Representatives from Heyer, Gruel & Associates took notes as a number of residents came to the microphone to address their concerns and pitch their ideas. Amongst the many topics that were discussed, parking in the city was priority number one.
“We can have all these wonderful businesses but when people come they have no place to park,” Resident Barbara Pasternack said. “You can’t go into a restaurant for 15 minutes.”
The parking issues, however, stem further than the business areas on Broadway. According to resident Bill Demasi, finding parking near residential properties like his home on John Street is also a pain for home owners in the area.
“There are houses on our street, multi-families, some with 12 cars or more, some of them have driveways but don’t use them,” Demasi said. “That also prevents us from leaving the house and using restaurants downtown. We’re close enough to walk but sometimes it’s too cold to walk and we want to drive, but we don’t want to lose our parking spot. We have to plan strategically to move the cars around to maintain a parking spot that is walking distance from our house.
Ideas presented about fixing the parking problem ranged from a new parking garage, parking meters on Broadway, and a parking commission similar to New Brunswick’s to keep cars moving in and out of spots near local businesses.
The South Amboy waterfront area was also discussed, as residents hoped to see a more developed area including restaurants and recreation.
“The waterfront property against Roosevelt street can be developed for recreation,” Nancy McLaughin said on behalf of her son, Councilman Brian McLaughlin, who was unable to attend. “If you started a trip from Elizabeth to Perth Amboy, each municipality has some type of waterfront recreation. Will the town have to put out money to start the process, yes, but it takes money to make money. We may have a restaurant that wants to start a business down there.”
“With being that they are bringing a ferry here, has anyone thought about really putting a good thought or money into building a marina with possibly a restaurant down there or a small eating establishment?” Resident Ken Feeley asked. “There’s a lot people that come from up north and even from south that come up and have their boats docked here. There’s a great fishing area here and that could be utilized.”
Residents also requested that the city consider bringing a local food store or farmer’s market to South Amboy.
“We need a supermarket…I’ve been emailing Trader Joe’s like crazy…They want to hear from more people,” Resident Marina Garay said. “It’s a nice type of supermarket that would attract people from other towns. This is a nice town but not enough people come in.”
“You have a lot of people my age who invest in going out of town to buy their food,” Resident Jeff Melillo said. “This is really what people my age are talking about… there’s no food store, a lot of businesses that supply food close very early. If there is anything we can do to get Trader Joe’s or something like that in here to bring real economy to the town and keep people my age staying…let us know because all these young people would write to Trader Joe’s they just really don’t know that’s a movement.”
Mayor Fred Henry told residents that they have had discussions with Trader Joe’s and other food stores to see if they would be willing to build in South Amboy.
“We reached out to Trader Joe’s and we did hear back just that they’ve got a couple of requests for places but we are going to reach out again to them to see if they are interested,” Mayor Henry said. “The problem is that if the business itself doesn’t want to build here there’s nothing we can do about that…but I would like it too.”
The next South Amboy Planning Board meeting will be held on March 22nd at 7:00 P.M. South Amboy’s city council will hold a business meeting on March 1st at 6:00 P.M.