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Don’t Take Your Open Space For “Granted”

In pursuit of county Open Space grants, Belmar plans to eliminate most of the open space at Maclearie Park!

What we have now:

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 10.07.01 AM


It’s really not bad the way it is.  If you go there on any nice day you’ll see lots of people enjoying the tennis courts, the playground, the soccer field, the diving platform, the sailing docks and especially the picnic grounds.  If it were up to me, I would fix the bulkhead, the walkways and the bathrooms and otherwise leave it pretty much the way it is.  Aside from the beach, waterfront open space is a rare and cherished asset in a town that’s so highly developed.

Problem is that you don’t get Open Space grants and loans for leaving things pretty much the way they are, even if it’s already mostly open space.  Hence:

Calabrese master plan

What I’d like to know is if this is only “Phase 1”, where did they plan to take it from here?  It looks pretty much like it should be the final phase.  (If you ask me, I would think that new bulkheads would be phase 1.)

Anyway, this was the design that was drawn up in January of 2013, right after Sandy.  It was shown at a meeting held in March of 2013 at Turnstile Cafe but only residents of Rhode Island Point were invited to the meeting.  After that it pretty much sat in a drawer until the September 9, 2014 Council meeting, which was the first Council meeting after the special election, and with the mayoral election only a few weeks away.  There was a resolution that we would be pursuing a $250,000 county grant with the borough matching that amount so we could get started on the transformation.  This time around no attempt, other than the official notice in the Coast Star, was made to publicize the impending project in the Rhode Island Point neighborhood.  (The notice in the Coast Star about the grant application is a requirement of the grant application process.)

Sept 2014 notice

The hearing went unnoticed by area residents.  The only person to go to the mic was me.  I was concerned about the money they planned to borrow for later phases of the project.  (I don’t like borrowing, no matter the interest rate.)

So what did the residents of Belmar agree to by their silence?

They apparently agreed to have the open space at the park chipped away at phase by phase.  Now that we have the grant, 2/3 of the soccer field will be gone, replaced by tennis courts, bocce ball, and a 50 foot open pavilion with restrooms at one end.  So far, although we have the money, we haven’t done anything with it.

Fast forward to June 30 of this year.  Flyers went out to residents of, again, only Rhode Island Point, announcing another meeting about Maclearie Park “improvements”.   At the meeting a graphic was displayed showing changes to the original plan:


An OPRAed letter from Maser to Paul Gleitz, an Open Space acquisitions administrator at the county, explains the changes that were needed when the new donated playground was installed.  (It seems it was put in a location that screwed up the original plan.)

Maser letter to county

A resident who attended the meeting reports that there was much opposition expressed to the new plan and to the redevelopment as a whole.  (As was the case with the previous neighborhood meetings about Maclearie Park, no minutes were taken.)  It is reported to me though that residents in attendance requested there be another meeting, this time with the engineer present.  While waiting for another meeting, so they could learn all the facts, particularly about whether there are plans to repair the bulkhead and how the repairs will be funded…….boom!

Notice for Sept 1

A second public notice for a public hearing on a grant application for phase 2!  Rather than resolve differences with the community over what what was planned so far, they are just steamrolling ahead to the next step of their plan.

The hearing on the future of Maclearie Park will be part of the regular Council meeting of Sept 1, next Tuesday, at 6:00 PM.  If you use Maclearie Park and care about Maclearie Park, this may be your last chance to be heard before they start tearing out what is there and making permanent changes to a park that generations have enjoyed just the way it is!


  1. OLD MAN wrote:

    There aren’t enough aspirins to kill my headache. Fix the bulkhead first.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 9:53 pm | Permalink
  2. Bill Straus wrote:

    I know what question I will be asking at the council meeting.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink
  3. Tom Dilberger wrote:

    I thought they were lying last meeting when I asked about the park. They sat there and acted as if they didn’t know anything about the condition of the park and didn’t say a word about this plan. Even when they don’t say something, it’s a lie.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 5:52 am | Permalink
  4. kookie wrote:

    Sounds similar to the Kapalko phase 1.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 7:45 am | Permalink
  5. Cathi wrote:

    The fact that the bathrooms remained unopened since Sandy is disgusting. Visitors to the beach as well as the parks and tennis courts are asked to use a “porta potty”. Why hasn’t a trailer been put there while construction awaits approval?? That park is always packed with families enjoying time together. I would imagine those that use the park haven’t read the notice in the paper???

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink
  6. Anonymous wrote:


    Leave the park the way it is. Belmar has so little open space.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink
  7. Eugene Creamer wrote:

    Fix the bulkhead first!
    I liked the existing park design …. until the regime told us that it sucks.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  8. Southie wrote:

    And the costs of this disaster plan?

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink
  9. Fed Up wrote:

    We couldn’t even get a dog park because it upset the usage of the park and eliminated a tiny portion of land. How is this going to work. Where are all those people who opposed the dog park. Do they want this?

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink
  10. anibody wrote:

    No attendants at the port-a-potty until beer on the pier. Difference?

    Where are the sanitary facilities at the basketball courts, baseball fields? Why?

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink
  11. Conflicting Goals wrote:

    In a letter of support for the plans and Open Space Grant, Ed Windas July 21,2014 states:”The purpose of the project is to repai and restore the park to it’s pre-Superstorm Sandy condition as well as improve upon and create recreational facilities for the enjoyment of park users.
    Except for the destroyed boardwalk ( the Subject of FEMA Project Worksheet, and a permanent bathrooms. THE PARK is restore to pre-Sandy condition. The bulkhead has been deteriorating for many years.The tennis courts, likewise sho wear from neglect. The only thing new will be Bocce Ball Courts. You have got to be kidding.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  12. Tree Lover wrote:

    Windas also sighted OBJECTIVE 10 in the 1989 Master Redevelopment Seaport Pla. ” to promote conservation of open-space and valuable natural resources…” Well the borough did a great job since 1989.
    Now they plan to reduce the open-space environment by 50%. How will 4 new tennis courts on the river increase public access to Open-Space and conserve? Want tennis courts put them in Demsey.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink
  13. Anonymous wrote:

    Get ready for the parking deck people.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  14. Tulip wrote:

    Here is an example where C.Deicke and the people of her neighborhood can get together for a cause. The people over in that area were adamant about not having a doggie park and allowing all those families to enjoy the one area of their town they had been using for generations. Mrs.Deicke with her knowledge and resources and the group that desperately wants to keep what is left of the area might be able to keep the town from taking it away.
    It should be rebuilt,refurbished and left to the use that it has been for all of these years. It was never political and should not be now.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  15. Resident wrote:

    They paved paradise to put up a parking lot or something like that. Follow the money.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  16. Eugene Creamer wrote:

    Can’t wait to see the engineer’s estimate to extend utilities (water, sewer, electric) to the park area …. ouch!

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink
  17. guest wrote:

    This does nothing for businesses in town. It only adds to the traffic of Rhode Island Point. I would much rather the town take care of what is there now instead of adding more that requires maintenance

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  18. Tree Lover wrote:

    15. I have been singing Big Yellow Taxi all day. Thanks for the Joni Mitchell
    reference. The paving will be phase II,not enough funding to put a lot there yet. The good news is there is time for the people to stop it. Also, There are no guarantees that Belmar will get Phase II grant to pay for the L Street Parking Lot.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink
  19. OLD MAN wrote:

    #17 More maintenance means more DPW overtime.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  20. Preserve the Park wrote:

    The clock is ticking. The plans for Maclearie Park will effect not only Belmar residents but individuals and groups all over New Jersey and beyond. See: Dive / Maclearie Park, Belmar NJ reviews.
    See: Jersey Shore GAA, Maclerie Park, Belmar, NJ This past Saturday I talked to friend and familes from NYC, Linden,NJ 100’s set up in the large tree shaded picnic grove. Silence is to agree with loosing for all time this gem of a public park.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  21. Anonymous wrote:

    Create a dog park. Belmar needs one!!!

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink
  22. Preserve the Park wrote:

    #21. For two years now my lawn has been a dog park. Most don’t clean up. All have ruined my planting. Might I suggest to take your pooch to the Mannasquan Wreck Pond Park.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  23. Ms.Sarcastic wrote:

    Hey council how about getting your act together and build a cost effective ethically bid project for the Pavilions before starting another mess! WAKE UP!!

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
  24. INFORMATA wrote:

    didn’t chef’s international beg off and drastically scale down their big construction plan at the Marina because of the negative impact it would have on the less than adequate infrastructure at the Marina in its present state. Ultimately businesses at the Marina would have been interrupted during the major construction contrary to the campaign fodder that we were being feed October, 2014 right before the November election.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
  25. Marina "Park" wrote:

    # 24. There are many questions concerning that. I for one am nervous about the inclusion of Maclearie as the “Marina-Maclearie Park Redevelopment Area ( Seaport Redev. )
    According to GreenAcres NJ. DEP website there was a “PUBLIC HEARING” January 6, 2014 dealing with the Chef’s Building” NO minutes, nothing
    on Anyone know about that hearing?

    Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink
  26. Teddy Ehmann wrote:

    The bulkhead @ Maclearie Park is like
    Silver Lake and Lake Como. It has been easier for the mayor and BA to build showy pavilions then to address the real needs. Silver Lake got its outflow pipe after North End community pressure and a single committed Councilman. The mayor dragged his feet because he wanted FEMA to pay. 2 years after Sandy, it done and we have $1,000,000. bond. Same for Lake Como, South Enders, three years later and $6,000,000 grant its going to be fixed. What we deserve in the West is the repair of the one thing destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, the Park Perimeter Boardwalk.
    It is foolish and reckless to rebuild without first, putting in a new bulkhead. This too will require a bond. Rather than to take care of the problem responsibly, Belmar will now construct new recreational infrastructure making the bulkhead impossible to redo. The BA’s Phase I should be Phase IV if at all. Playing their new game without 100% assurance that Phase II funding will be there,
    kills the bulkhead and postpones the most needed boardwalk to June of 2017 if at all.

    Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  27. anibody wrote:

    There has to be some sort of oversight where waterways are being impacted. This recurring flood area on Route 35 is subject to Federal DOT and CAFRA as well as Green Acres regulatory controls.

    Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  28. nice day wrote:

    Is it true that RAY NAGIN is in jail?

    Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink
  29. Maria wrote:

    What happened to the swings in the park, also the slides. Nothing to do at the park but sit and jump off the plane

    Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  30. Maria wrote:

    What happened to the fence so children cannot run to route 35??????

    Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  31. elemental wrote:

    Just because money is available does not mean that it has to be grabbed and spent on showy attractions. Why put icing on a cake that will fall into the river when the bulkhead is faulty? This reminds me of building a house on sand, and you know what happens to that.

    Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink
  32. elemental wrote:

    I’m still upset about the trees that were sacrificed by the saw so that the miniature golf course could be built – which appears to be a loser, by the way.

    Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
  33. Mini wrote:

    I’m guessing mini golf will become the parking deck.

    Friday, August 28, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink
  34. nice day wrote:

    You mean a deal would be considered quid pro quo for the unused mind I golf attraction on Route 35 at the JERSEY SHORE?

    Friday, August 28, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  35. I just cannot understand why with so little open space in the area that this land needs to be built on. At the turnstile meeting a few weeks ago I left under the impression that there would be a new meeting SOON with NEW plans to look at. We would receive emails to inform us of information – NONE of that happened. Who’s kidding who. The mayor and Connelly are just going to proceed without taking into consideration what the residents of Belmar really want!! I really don’t believe paving over Maclearie Park for parking and tennis courts is what residents in the area want!!!

    Friday, August 28, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  36. Half of the turnstile meeting discussed how bad parking in the area is. So let’s put in more attractions/activities so that parking will be even more of an issue. Oh, the solution is pave the open area. Great!! Just in case you missed it – Connelly said no worries, we will use all the grass as overflow parking! So basically you will only be able to use the tennis courts and bocci ball courts because the rest of the park will be parking! Great!

    Friday, August 28, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  37. Tulip wrote:

    #28 yes.

    Friday, August 28, 2015 at 9:03 pm | Permalink
  38. Tulip wrote:

    Somewhere I heard that there was either a state or federal grant on the park with no buildings on the site which was “open space” late “80’s or early “90”s. Before they build maybe they might look into that memory.
    It might also be nice to know if county has the legal authority to over ride the state or federal funding of open space. Just a thought.

    Friday, August 28, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink
  39. Tom Dilberger wrote:

    This really hurts. I use the park all the time, especially the benches located under the trees. Just one dumb idea following another in this town.

    Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 4:19 am | Permalink
  40. nice day wrote:

    Tom, you are not one of the chosen people.

    Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink
  41. Guest wrote:

    Has their been any consideration of what changing the pervious surfaces (grass) to impervious surfaces (pavement) at the park will do to the flooding problems already present in Rhode Island Point?

    Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink
  42. nice day wrote:

    Planning board criteria re: runoff from impervious surfaces, CAFRA, GREEN ACRES reimbursement. Poor soul in the neighbourhood that clearly floods on a regular basis….. Leave it alone. Put sanitary facilities now.

    Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink
  43. Live By Park wrote:

    #41,#42 It is worst then that. Colleen is the “project Manager” there should have been certified letters to the owners of property 200ft from what the
    “concept Plan” January 2013, the only plan submitted to Open Space for phase I funding- showing a new light and main park entrance and parking lot at Briarwood Road. Also the 6/30/15 changes moving everything to L Street. The secretcy will ultimately be the undoing.

    Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  44. Umberto, Bertie for wrote:

    “The Name of the Rose” fragments in the scheme… when they seem obscure to us if amalgamated with a will wholly bent on evil. HUMPH!

    Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  45. Tom Dilberger wrote:

    How can there be a “plan” about this park that doesn’t address the issue of the bulkhead. The bulkhead in a few places (one location about 30ft. long) is very near ready to fall into the water.

    Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
  46. Teddy Ehmann wrote:

    #45. Tom the mayor has stated (to the few who show up at unofficial meetings at Turnstile) that the development all phases including the new tennis courts,
    band shell, ice skating rink and splash park is required before the state gives a money to fix the bulkhead. (the equipment needed would most likely destroy the above mentioned redevelopments.) I have yet to find one person who agrees with this solution.

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 7:29 am | Permalink
  47. Preserve the Park wrote:

    More lies told to support drastic redevelopment. Case in Point: June 3,2015 email from Maser’s Howard Kelsey to Open Space’s Paul Geitz, ” The number of tennis courts to be installed was increase from 2 to 4 as a result of feedback from the public” The only official meeting was 9/9/2014 (Schneck and Burke only comments ) enough time should there had actually been public comments to change the Phase I application of 9/17/14. The unofficial meeting at Turnstile 3/14 was limited to donated playground. You decide!

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink
  48. Eugene Creamer wrote:

    Suggestion to all …. go over the regime’s head and send your concerns and comments directly to:

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 8:23 am | Permalink
  49. Gay N Belmar wrote:

    This is more than an extreme makeover. The proposed plan is a Jenneresque reconstructive surgical fix. It is time to tell Connolly and the Mayor where to put it! The tennis courts can easily fit in Silver Lake Park. The bocce ball courts near the Senior building. A splash park which would service minorities the most should go into Dempsey Park. The ice skating rink should go on the back burner until Scotty Hamilton donates one. The band shell is so 1940’s it is laughable. Do we really need an additional stage for Danny White, Pat Roddy and Tommy Brennan to perform on?
    What happened to the idea of a gazebo at the western point? I am tired of trying to see the sunset from a crowded pier bar with the drunks, terrible food and the bad music.

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  50. Gargage In... wrote:

    We all know the expression, “garbage in, garbage out”. The concept plan was
    created by C. Connolly using Birdsall
    immediately after Super Storm Sandy. There were no studies of the park then or now. There were no gathering of resident captured and recorded input then and now. No park planners, horticulturalists involved in the planning. Blaustein School of Planning and Rutgers Agriculture School which teaches public park planning never involved. Just redevelopers. Environmentalists and naturalists were definitely not involved ! No one contacted the U.S. Tennis Association that gives grants for public tennis courts. Just urban sprawl redevelopers. Anyone ever seen Dave Robert’s front yard? Can you say stones and rocks sans trees and grass?

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink
  51. elemental wrote:

    Besides being upset about the arborcide to create the mini-golf course and paving to provide parking behind the B.A.C., I hope no one decides to plant hostas in the bright sun, like on Main Street last year, I recall. They had a short life. A little research would have shown that the hostas do better in the shade. Does a Belmar “pal” sell hostas and palm trees?

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink
  52. Alexander Garvin wrote:

    The foremost authority on “Parks, Recreation and Open-Space” for the 21st Century. Wrote in his study the current mayors are ill equipped to deal with the issue of open-space and public parks. His findings to the American Planning Association include: ” We need to increase substantially the amount and availability of open space.” He further states: ” By combining small grants, technical assistance and community organizing, Partnerships for Parks, has built grassroots constituencies that act as supporters for the lesser known neighborhood parks.” Seems like the grassroots group is being formed but in opposition.

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  53. Codger leader wrote:

    We are all a bunch of old white codgers complaining about the government and anything else. We are against everything and think we know all the answers. However, other than complain, none of us do anything to help. This blog is the only sorry thing we do. At least Dave “fake” runs for council. We are all sad, sorry, losers looking to be relevant.

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink
  54. no mo money wrote:

    History repeats itself when good men/people do nothing.

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 7:35 pm | Permalink
  55. Tom Dilberger wrote:

    #53 – Sir, at least you can do something by voting NO on the Pavilionin November and for Dave for Council. Those are both physical acts/doing something.

    Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink
  56. Anonymous wrote:

    HEADLINE: Codgeress “leader” rallies the senior citizens for the political freebies at the 18th and ocean police blotted location; why not give free drinks and desperately needed sustenance.

    If it was good enough for John V. Kenny, why not FOLLOW that proven path.

    Monday, August 31, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

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