Save Asbury’s Waterfront Community Voices – Kay Harris

Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition Supports Save Asbury’s Waterfront (SAW).  As a departure from our ongoing focus on safe and equitable access to streets, we’re focusing the next few posts on Asbury Park’s North Beach and equitable access to the boardwalk and beaches.

The boardwalk is a thoroughfare through the city, and beaches belong to everyone. Residents and visitors deserve access to the boardwalk and beaches, and we maintain that developers must respect that neither should be privatized in any way.

The contributors in these posts are members of the Asbury Park community, and share their thoughts about development though the lens of social justice.

#boardwalkandbeachesforall

PLEASE ATTEND THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING FEB 13th. AP High School Auditorium.  Learn about development of the North Beach and share your thoughts in the public comment period.

Preserve the Unique Diversity of Asbury Park’s Waterfront

by Kay Harris

Memories linger in my mind, of being denied access to the Monte Carlo Pool in the 1950s because I am African American. Of course, that would not be the case today in 2019. The new barrier would be based on income, a euphemism for class distinction. Do we really want to be defined as the beachfront which boasts amenities ensuring separation of the “haves” and “have nots”? – Kay Harris

The issue of Asbury Park’s waterfront development has brought about intense discussions within the community concerning the direction the development has been taking, amounting to the gentrification of Asbury Park. What defines the Jersey Shore is the miles of towns running from Sandy Hook to Cape May, each with its own characteristics; Cape May with its pristine beaches and grand Victorian homes, quiet upscale Spring Lake, fun, family amusements of Point Pleasant Beach and then there is Asbury Park.

Since 2005, the boardwalk and entire waterfront have been going through a succession of renovations, with thousands of visitors and residents once again enjoying all that the beach and bustling boardwalk have to offer.
As a boardwalk business owner for 14 seasons, many customers have walked through my store. The appeal of Asbury Park, as shared by these visitors and newly entrenched residents, regardless of income levels has been the edginess of Asbury Park as well as its diversity.

The waterfront master developer, iStar, has shared with the community that they intend to appeal to a cross section of clientele, specifically a high-end clientele at the north end of Asbury Park. Thus, the vision of the north end, is expected to include new townhomes right at the steps of the beach itself as well as a members only pool club. Already nearing completion, however, is iStar’s Asbury Ocean Club, Surfside Residences and Resort, with condo prices near $1 million upward to $5 million. It is located in the center of the waterfront on Ocean Avenue, between Third and Fourth Avenues and includes a members only 65 x 30-foot pool. This means that the north end pool to be built in the near future, would be the second private or members only pool built along our waterfront.

Memories linger in my mind, of being denied access to the Monte Carlo Pool in the 1950s because I am African American. Of course, that would not be the case today in 2019. The new barrier would be based on income, a euphemism for class distinction. Do we really want to be defined as the beachfront which boasts amenities ensuring separation of the “haves” and “have nots”?

I understand that the original plans were to include a public pool, 18 months after the private pool is built. This seems to be backwards to me. If there is going to be a members only pool, why not public pools first, with daily or seasonal admission fees that are affordable for families. Why a members only pool at all unless incorporated within a private development. Perhaps the members only pool club could be built a block or so inland so that the remaining and limited beach front property can be valued as a resource to be enjoyed by all – both residents and visitors.

I absolutely understand that the developers have made an investment in Asbury Park with the intentions of realizing a financial return. iStar has indicated that they want to work with our community, and on January 15, four proposals for the future boardwalk were presented with opportunity for public comment.

My hope is that the Asbury Park Waterfront developers can be open to input from the community in good faith and just as importantly, come to a meeting of the minds so that it can be a win/win for both the Developers and Community, as well as visitors to our jewel of the Jersey Shore.

Kay Harris

Asbury Park Business Owner

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