Old Bridge officials expected to consider parking fees in response to high demand for beachfront area

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OLD BRIDGE – Township officials are considering implementing parking fees and residential parking permits as the demand of the beachfront area in the Laurence Harbor section of the township continues to rise.

“For the last couple of years we had to employ additional resources at our beachfront because of the popularity of people coming to Old Bridge, especially on the weekends with large crowds,” Mayor Owen Henry said. “Our police have a full-time presence on the weekends so we have incurred additional costs.”

Henry said as other shore towns make revenue through parking, he believes the implementation of parking fees and residential parking permits would benefit the people who come visit the site as well as township residents.

“[The people coming to visit] would have a place to park, pay at the pay stations and enjoy the day as opposed to parking in front of somebody’s house, which sometimes could lead to conflicts. … It’s a win-win situation,” he said.

The Township Council is expected to discuss the introduction of an ordinance for the implementation of parking fees from Memorial Day to October and also discuss the implementation of residential permit parking in the surrounding neighborhoods at its next meeting on July 20.

The Laurence Harbor beachfront on Route 35 includes Pauls Beach made up of 6.69 acres; the police substation; Raritan Bayfront Park made up of 11.98 acres, which includes the Laurence Parkway Recreation Center, restrooms, boardwalk, lighted basketball court, handball court, playground equipment and fishing jetties; and the underdeveloped Seidler’s Beach made up of 1.2 acres.

Cliffwood Beach, consisting of 33.5 acres on Raritan and Ocean boulevards, is closed since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Ward 1 Councilman David Merwin has called for residential permit parking for residents on Shoreline Circle and Bayview Drive area, which would give people some peace of mind.

“Right now it’s a quality of life issue for residents constantly being woken up and having to clean up garbage,” he said, noting fisherman fish with the tides, which could be at all hours of the day and night.

Business Administrator Himanshu Shah said there are three to four parking lots that could be used for parking, including the parking lot behind the pharmacy as well as behind the county building and police substation.

“Just like any shore community with high traffic, there’s a huge cost of services we have that we should charge parking fees. … It makes sense,” he said.