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STONE HARBOR - Stone Harbor Council Nov. 17 saw a conceptual design for improvements to Marina Park, a municipal marina bordering Avalon.  

The three-acre bayfront parcel was without major rehabilitation for many years. Upgrading the marina was an ongoing discussion at governing body meetings. At this meeting, the council saw a vision for the project. 

The design included a new headquarters building with permanent restrooms, which the site lacks. It also displays an elevated pedestrian walkway along the bay, an improved boat ramp, two potential kayak launch ramps, a new fish cleaning station, and extensive landscaping. 

Also, the upgrade to the space provides an opportunity to address several infrastructure issues. The plan calls for raising the low-lying parking lot, bringing bulkheads in line with new borough standards, adding handicapped accessibility ramps and features, and raising the boat ramp elevation. 

Construction cost estimates for the total project are $5.4 million, a major issue for a borough facing large capital expenses for a new stormwater pump station and drainage pipe system, along with the need for some form of a replacement structure for the beach patrol.  

Councilman Raymond Parzych said, “We are talking about a lot of money” for these various borough projects. 

Borough Engineer Marc DeBlasio estimated that as much as $2.9 million might be able to be secured through grants, with specific emphasis on the potential for between $1 million to $2 million from the county Open Space program. He emphasized that this was a project that may or may not be realized. 

As the discussion progressed, new items were mentioned as potential additions to the design. These included a marine fueling station and a possible “food and beverage component.” 

The debate on a fueling station raised issues of special permit needs, the handling of contaminants, and whether the borough should become involved in, what would be, a retail commercial business.  

Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour urged council members to prioritize capital spending for flood mitigation. She expressed frustration with any attempt to add a complicated fueling station component to the plan at this late date.  

Her timing reference was related to the county deadline for the next round of Open Space applications, Dec. 15. 

There was strong support for a food and beverage add-on, with several details on how such a function would need to be worked out in future discussions.  

On a concept level, many on the council felt that such an addition to the plan would make the resulting space more attractive to residents and visitors. 

The council supported the submission of the conceptual design and its submission to the next round of county Open Space grant consideration.  

The level of grant support the project can garner may have a significant impact on whether the borough can proceed despite other needs for capital investment. 

To contact Vince Conti, email vconti@cmcherald.com. 

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