The Brick Township council voted unanimously Tuesday night to move ahead with plans to solicit bids for private management of the marina at Traders Cove and to hear proposals for a bayfront restaurant and banquet facility to be built at the site.
“We pay a large debt service every single year,” Mayor John Ducey said. “We’re really never going to break even, but we need to maximize our revenues as much as possible.”
The marina at Traders Cove was designed as a revenue producer, though construction projects and Superstorm Sandy held up the facility from opening to its full capacity over the last several years. This season will mark the first time all of the slips at the marina are available to boaters.
“We’re going to take a look, compare and see what our operating costs were last year compared with what a company would come in and charge us to run it,” said Ducey.
There is still the possibility that the township could run the marina itself if the bids come in too high.
The council, in a separate vote, approved the solicitation of bids for the construction of a restaurant at Traders Cove. After Shorebeat first reported the possibility of a restaurant being built at the site, the environmental group Save Barnegat Bay came out against the plan, saying it could curtail public access, but Ducey said it would likely increase the number of people enjoying the scenic park, since boaters could dock and dine, and restaurant patrons could relax in the park after a meal. A restaurant with a banquet facility would also be an opportunity for township organizations to hold events in a picturesque setting.
The township has received approval from the state’s Green Acres program to move forward with the restaurant plan. The construction of an additional building at the site was always included in its planning, though there was debate as to what purpose it was to serve.
Township officials are desirous of attracting a “high quality restaurant” to the site, according to the mayor.
“We’ve had a number of companies contact us about trying to get their hands on that proposal before we were even allowed to release it,” Ducey said.
Construction of a commercial building at Traders Cove is estimated to cost more than $2 million given the current building codes and elevation requirements, Ducey said. Had the plan not been put out to bid, the township may have been required to build a facility there under a previous Green Acres plan, the mayor said.
“We don’t want to have the taxpayers pay for that,” Ducey said. “We want to have something that everybody can enjoy.”