Home Brick Life County Officials, Environmentalists in Opposition to Traders Cove Restaurant Plan

County Officials, Environmentalists in Opposition to Traders Cove Restaurant Plan

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An aerial view of Traders Cove Marina. (Credit: Google Maps)
An aerial view of Traders Cove Marina. (Credit: Google Maps)

Among a standing-room only crowd of environmentalists and residents with an interest in commenting on a proposed restaurant at Traders Cove Marina and Park in Brick was a surprise face – Ocean County Administrator Carl Block.

Block and another county official, Michael Fiure, the county’s Director of Management and Budget, read a scathing letter into the record at the meeting penned by Freeholder John C. Bartlett. Bartlett could not attend personally since he was receiving chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

The hearing was being held under a state Green Acres requirement since state funding was used in the purchase of the site.

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“I do not regard a bar on this site to be in the general public interest,” the letter from Bartlett said, taking township officials to task for their apparent failure to respond to a separate letter penned by Bartlett last year in which he cited concerns over the use of county parking spaces for the proposed restaurant.

The plan to build a restaurant and bar on the 11 acre site “constitutes a breach of faith between the county of Ocean and the township of Brick,” the letter said. The county, Bartlett wrote, “will lend every effort to protect its investment,” which includes the entrance and egress from the site.

Mayor John Ducey, after the letter was read, said an earlier planning document mistakenly referenced the county-owned lot – located in the county’s portion of the park, next to the Mantoloking Bridge fishing pier and walkway – as being utilized for restaurant parking, however current plans do not reflect that.

“The county parking is not included, so that takes care of that part,” said Ducey.

Block, who also spoke, said county officials were most concerned over traffic in and near the park.

“The park was bought for a low-intensity use,” said Block. “Right now, it appears that this is more than we anticipated happening, and there may be a negative impact on the road and traffic.”

A proposed bar and restaurant to be built at Traders Cove Marina in Brick, NJ. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A proposed bar and restaurant to be built at Traders Cove Marina in Brick, NJ. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The restaurant plan, which includes a dock-and-dine bar and eatery, a rooftop deck, sand lounges and tables, has been touted by Brick officials as a way to help generate money to repay about $15 million in loans for which township taxpayers are responsible. Chefs International, the developer of the restaurant, will pay the township $75,000 per year to lease the site in a 24 year deal that includes a 2 percent escalator each year.

Ducey said a restaurant on the site also helps solidify the area around the bridge as the “gateway to our beautiful town” and will produce 97 jobs.

The plan meets Green Acres and other state park regulations because the restaurant will be one component of the park, rather than its primary use.

“As is the case with countless public golf courses, marinas and state parks, a restaurant is an ancillary use,” said Ducey, citing the recent decision by the state itself to open a bar at Island Beach State Park. There is also a bar and restaurant at the Farley state marina in Atlantic City and the publicly-owned marina in Belmar, he said. The Belmar bar and restaurant, which is also operated by Chefs International, has not had a single police complaint in its existence, Ducey added.

“The restaurant has a great reputation in Belmar and has had zero police incidents since it opened in 2012,” said Ducey.

The restaurant plan elicited a negative response from a number of people organized by Save Barnegat Bay, a local environmental group. The contingent wore stickers on their shirts that said, “Save Traders Cove,” and filled most of the seats in the township council chambers.

“This plan amounts to an intensive development of the site,” said Brice Bennett, a Toms River resident.

Christine Scheller, a Brick resident, said she was concerned a bar at the site would present safety issues for children at the nearby playground.

A Mantoloking resident, Nancy Boden Harris, was concerned that her bayfront home is located opposite the site.

“he safety of our children on the bay, with this restaurant in front of us, would be intensely compromised,” Boden Harris said. “We are trying to keep Barnegat Bay clean and safe, not attract more traffic to the area.”

Toni Granato, a representative from the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, said her organization also opposes the restaurant because it would “commercialize” the site.

“This proposal will seriously change the park, preventing a majority of people from using it,” she said.

Those in favor of the plan countered that the project would likely bring new patrons out to enjoy the park and its natural surroundings. Ducey said the establishment is a welcome addition for the township’s business community as well, even earning an endorsement from the owners of the former Hinckley Yacht Club marina across the street.

“They believe that our project will greatly enhance their operation, the bay, and the gateway to our great town,” said Ducey.

The leasing fees will double the park’s revenue, which stood at $77,000 last year, and help defray the annual $1,155,100 in debt service taxpayers fund each year.

“This is the impact it has on the taxpayers of Brick, and that is why it is so important to come up with additional revenue sources,” Ducey said.


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  • MP Gerrity

    Had attended last night’s meeting and spoke during the public comments portion of the proceedings.

    As an Environmental Steward active in Brick I have 4 primary concerns-
    1- An adequate supply of clean water
    2- The growing trend in plastic debris in the landscape and waterways
    3- The reduction of sustainable habitat for insects, pollinators, and wildlife.
    4- The sustained health and vitality of the Barnegat Bay Estuary

    While I do not oppose the placement of a restaurant/concession on the site of the Traders Cove park/marina, I did make 2 specific requests of the Town Council-

    1- Request that the Restaurant management theme the facility to educate the public on the history, function, value, and fragility of the Barnegat Bay estuary. Appropriate guidance on those points can be obtained by working in collaboration with the Barnegat Bay Partnership.
    2- Request that the Restaurant management design the facility to be consistent with Leadership in Energy and Enviroinmental Design (LEED) standards.

    The Trader’s Cove Park/Marina will be at the eastern approach from the barrier island. It is in the exact location of Superstorm Sandly’s greatest impact. Brick has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in how a developed community can prosper and responsibly grow during a period of climate change and sea level rise. The restaurant management can set a standard for environmental stewardship while enjoying the rewards afforded to American business enterprise.

    This is an opportunity to live in harmony with nature and with each other. If we agree to work together, using scientifically valid planning, we will have done ourselves and our children a favor. Set an example for others to follow.

    Thank-you

  • Marley

    The restaurant is a great idea for the town and for the area. Let’s get off our high horse and stop pretending this is about the environment and let’s get progressive in our ideas and make this side of Brick profitable and useful. Take a ride to Oceanport and take a look at exactly the same setup on The Shrewsbury River and see how lovely it is to sit by the water and enjoy an adult cocktail and enjoy the view.

  • Rich W

    If it meets Green Acres requirements and doesn’t use the county land, it’s a done deal.

    Of course the county politicians oppose an idea from a municipality run by members of the other party. It’s just what they do.

    • J W

      Bingo.

  • Smokin

    Brick has to get out of the real estate business ..sell all properties and put the money back into lowering taxes for Bricktown residents..Same games in town Just different players ..pass the buck but no better..

    • J W

      You can’t sell land that was bought with County and State dollars. Aside from that, the idea you need to sell land that is generating revenue for a one-off tax cut for you is short sighted and irresponsible.

  • Stephen Brill

    Your environmental concerns are misplaced. Use Google Earth to view the entire Traders Cove Marina, park and restaurant. This is now a manmade area. A valid concern is traffic impact and the cost to mitigate it. Will more public money be used to in the hope of lessening the tax burden, a false hope. Look at Atantic City.

  • Stephen Brill

    The restaurant should pay a proportional amount of the $1 million per year that Brick taxpayers have been paying. For example, if the restaurant uses 25 per cent of the land they should pay 25 per cent of the debt service, plus property tax, etc. That is the true cost of doing business.

    • J W

      That’s not how you assess rents for commercial properties my friend. You seem to be closer to what they would pay in a sale, albeit without comps. If anything, that’s a fair price waterfront commercial space rent.

  • Glenn

    So the town gets about $150,000/ year to pay down a $15 million debt. With no interest, the debt will take a mere 100 years to pay off! Wow, now that is a plan!!!

    • J W

      They aren’t renting the whole park, and this was never intended to be a solution to the park debt. The park itself was a solution in search of problem cooked up by the Greek Raider.

      • Glenn

        I think it was more in response to Willie deCamp and Save Barnegat Bay to block construction of the 50 some townhomes, marina and restaurant.
        So now we have the marina and soon to be restaurant and no income producing residential property. And it only cost 15 large.

      • J W

        Indeed. I remember 10 years ago having this same conversation with people. Let some guy build condos on the lot. Don’t turn it into an expensive park only one small end of town will ever have any use for. For some reason, the town Republicans wanted a lavish park. Too little, too late now.

  • J W

    Can’t sell a property bought with county and state funds idiot. Magic wand fantasyland politics from the Trumpanzee crowd.

  • Surfrider

    Talk is cheap. a number of years ago, Brick was pushing that all new construction, whether new or modifications to existing structures, need to be of a “nautical” nature, to help the image of Mantoloking Road, which by in large, is pretty slummy along the way, especially Eds Hardware. In the many years that have passed, there are only 2 places along the way, that did such a thing. Already there is over usage of the area, traffic backs up to Adamston at times because of heavy traffic period. Too many boats already pass through this area as it is. Now lets add all this new traffic (land and water) and attract more people to the area. NUTS !

  • Surfrider

    DLM…I agree….sell the property, we are in enough debt, and all these cock and bull stories about generating money to pay down the debt on the property is cheap talk! All Politicians lie through their teeth! Guaranteed there is something in for the small time politicians of our town.