ASBURY PARK OPENS STREETS FOR PEOPLE…Let’s do it every day.
Polli Schildge, Editor, June 16th, 2020
In a bold move Asbury Park showed support for restaurants by passing a resolution at last week’s council meeting to “permit restaurants to host diners inside at 25% of the building’s capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer”. This was an interpretation of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 152 and Executive Order No. 150, allowing establishments to open with limited capacity indoors.
The city backed off as reported in ABC6 Philadelphia, after the state sued on Friday and a judge issued an order temporarily blocking the town’s attempt to allow indoor dining. “Mayor John Moor and the council released a statement Friday evening recommending that restaurants not serve diners indoors”, and as described in The Patch, Asbury Park is providing space for businesses and restaurants to operate outdoors starting on Monday, June 15th.
To provide space for people to walk and dine safely, the City Council has announced ReOPEN Asbury Park : Business & Community Recovery Strategy Plan. Streets in the business district and other select streets will be open for walking, dining, bicycling, and other recreation from Thursday through Sunday.
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition applauds the city in this forward-thinking approach to providing space for people to move through the the city with social distancing, and for businesses to begin recoup revenue, described at 94.3 The Point. However opening streets only Thursday through Sunday is not enough. We suggest that the ReOPEN Plan provides open streets 7 days a week. On Monday evening, June 15th, the first day that restaurants were permitted to serve outdoors, sidewalks along Cookman Ave. were packed with diners and walkers, while cars cruised on the street as drivers circled and idled waiting for parking. The sidewalks are simply not wide enough. A huge swath of the business district is covered in asphalt, and dominated by cars – space which could be utilized for safely distanced dining and walking. Restaurant and business owners are supportive of the plan, acknowledging that residents and business patrons will appreciate the ability to access city streets without having to dodge cars.
Asbury Park ReOPEN Plan outlines opening streets for people and restricting access to cars Thursdays through Sundays. The plan will:
1. Expand capacity for restaurant, retail and services
2. Utilize public space as a mechanism to allow people to maintain social distancing
3. Provide opportunities for residents to safely enjoy their neighborhoods