Observer on Traders Cove Park
Trader’s Cove set for sale: Property will be bought for $8M
Published in the Ocean County Observer 08/23/05
By LAWRENCE MEEGAN
The Trader’s Cove Marina, Mantoloking Road, will be purchased from a developer for $8 million.
BRICK — With Barnegat Bay in the background, Mayor Joseph C. Scarpelli announced that the 11.5-acre property formerly known as Trader’s Cove Marina will be purchased by a five-member partnership for $8 million and turned into a park.
No date has been set for the title transfer from Paramount Homes to Brick Township, said Richard F. MacDonald, Brick’s purchasing agent. Scarpelli said he is certain it will be done in 2005.
Boat docks, ramps, a store and museum are planned for the site. The property is located on Mantoloking Road near the Mantoloking Bridge.
Paramount received Board of Adjustment ap-proval to build 52 condominiums, a restaurant and 188 boat slips on the site in May of 2003.
Within months, Save Barnegat Bay, a local chapter of the Izaak Walton League, sued the township to overturn the use variance grant.
[ SBB note: In fact it was the developer who appealed the variance, not Save Barnegat Bay. The Council annulled the zoning board decision; the developer appealed; and SBB joined the case to support Brick Township.]
It has been in state Superior Court ever since.
“This is a tremendous victory for the settlement of a public interest dispute,” said Michele Donato, the land use attorney who represented Save Barnegat Bay.
Calling it a unique resolution, she said, “The Ocean County judiciary deserves a great round of applause. Without Judge (James D.) Clyne and Judge (Eugene)
Serpentelli this would never have happened.”
“It was the right opportunity to do the right thing,” said Jeffrey Fernbach, owner of Paramount Homes which has been building homes in Ocean County for 20 years.
He said he thought it would have taken at least five years to resolve the dispute.
“We may have walked away from a seven-to=eight-million-dollar profit,” he said.
Donato credited Save Barnegat Bay Associate Executive Director Jennifer
O’Reilly with creating the conceptual plan that depicts the types of public use the site will generate.
Part of that use will be to provide support facilities when the county turns the old Mantoloking Bridge into a fishing pier.
“It became the perfect project,” said Ocean County Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee.
The county will contribute $1.5 million toward the purchase.
“I am floating about one inch off the ground,” said Willy de Camp Jr., executive director of Save Barnegat Bay. He called the announcement a combination of ecstasy and melancholy as he related a brief history of the settlement.
De Camp has opposed plans to develop the site since August 1985. He said many of his comrades who battled with him died of old age.
He thanked Scarpelli, calling him a progressive leader on land preservation. He also thanked Councilman Stephen C. Acropolis, saying, “This would not have happened without you.”
Save Barnegat Bay contributed $1 million to the purchase. Brick Township also contributed $1 million from its Open Space Trust Fund.
Four million dollars for the purchase came from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres fund. The remaining $500,000 came from an anonymous donor.
John Flynn, administrator of the fund, said the purchase was the first success in acting Gov. Richard J. Codey’s 2005 Coastal Initiative, designed to protect marinas from being developed into housing developments.
Acropolis, who opposed Paramount’s plans nearly three years ago, recounted the steps that were taken to breach his opposition.
“They told me, “You can’t fight city hall.’ Well, I am city hall. You’re darned right you can fight city hall,” he said.
He discounted the mayor’s contribution in the process, saying Scarpelli never attended a single mediation session.
“The facts are Joe Scarpelli was not for a park. He was for condos,” said Acropolis.
“He was correct,” said Scarpelli, “but I realized the majority of the residents wanted open spaces.”
That caused the mayor to change his position.
Acropolis also charged that the mayor’s followers placed impediments in his path as he tried to overturn the board’s approval, including disqualifying him from voting on the appeal.
“He was on one side of the issue and I was on the other but we worked together,” Scarpelli said. “You have to have the capacity and the judgment to know what the people want and to form a consensus.”
The mayor reminded the nearly 60 people who turned out for the announcement that yesterday was only the first step in turning the property into a park.
“It’s going to take money,” he said, to build the boat docks, ramps, store and museum that are planned. He did not know where that money would come from.
Acropolis is certain that in time the park will generate enough money to pay for itself. It will generate money by renting boat slips and selling items at the proposed store, he said.
“This is not going to cost the residents of Brick Township a dime,” he said.
Published on August 23, 2005, in the Ocean County Observer