BRICK – The township is developing a bicycle and pedestrian master plan, designed to identify and create strategies to increase the number of people walking and bicycling while enhancing safety and connectivity for everyone who uses the roads.
The first in a series of public meetings was held on Nov. 29, where residents were able to share their ideas about improvements and to learn about the planning process. The working group was organized with the Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Planning.
“What they’re doing is creating a bike and pedestrian master plan for the township, something we haven’t had in a very long time and it’s something that is very necessary,” said Councilwoman Heather deJong during the Dec. 5 council meeting.
The local leaders for the project include township planners Michael Fowler and Tara Paxton, township engineer Elissa Commins, and traffic safety officer, police Sgt. Neal Pedersen, who were there to answer residents’ questions.
deJong said she volunteered her leadership because she is keenly interested in the subject and wants to see the completion of the master plan.
She said that some of the issues and problems brought up at the public meeting include the need for improved safety, more crosswalks, and better public education about traffic laws.
Residents said they want to enhance connectivity and mobility in town by including facilities, such as schools, which should have more interconnecting bike paths and sidewalks, she said.
“This is something we do with our Safe Streets to School grants,” deJong said, “expand our bike trail and link it to more sidewalks. (Residents) want to see the state and the county along with the surrounding municipalities work more together.”
She said that the state and counties have “just wanted to keep people moving” by constructing new roads, with pedestrians and bicyclists as an afterthought.
The creation of a bike and pedestrian master plan would address a Safe Streets component which would allow the township to apply for federal funding, she said.
“Having this master plan is not a quick fix. The town took years and years to get this congested and built this way,” deJong said. “It will take years for us to change the culture. We don’t have to take our cars everywhere. We can walk. We can take our bikes. Things can be connected.”
There will be one or two additional public meetings to hash out ideas for the master plan and then try to find state and federal funds to pursue some of the projects, she said.
In other township news, Mayor John G. Ducey said the beach replenishment project would begin in late December when the RN Weeks, a hopper dredge, would be positioned offshore and in place to start pumping sand onto Brick beaches in early January.
“This means, under that schedule, it should be done before our summer season,” Ducey said.
Council President Art Halloran said he was glad to hear that the date for Brick’s beach replenishment had been stepped up since he heard it was not scheduled to begin until the spring.
Halloran, who lives on the barrier island in Brick, said he’s seen the ongoing beach replenishment in Mantoloking .
“It’s amazing how deep this new beach is going to be. It’s at least 150 to 200 feet deeper, so you’re going to be in shape, one way or the other, after a day at the beach because you’re gonna have to walk pretty far to get to the water,” he said. “But I’m glad to hear that, it’s wonderful news.”
The next council meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.