The city will have approximately three years to use an expected $1.1 million state Green Acres grant for the preservation of the Bradley Cove area on the northern Asbury Park beachfront, according to Councilman Joe Woerner.
In addition, the amount available to purchase the development rights to the land will increase another $250,000 after the required match by the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders is added to the grant, said Woerner. The Freeholders had previously expressed their intention to provide a match if the Green Acres funding was awarded, he said.
That makes a total of $1.35 million for the preservation of the .6 acre tract, where master waterfront redeveloper iStar Financial has proposed 15 townhouses in what is now the Ocean Avenue right-of-way from the sewerage treatment plant to near the Loch Arbor border.
Earlier this week, the Garden State Preservation Trust, an independent state authority which reviews plans for allocating Green Acres funding, recommended the Bradley Cove grant along with land acquisition projects around the state proposed by Governor Chris Christie totaling $102.3 million.
The funds will become available once the Assembly and Senate approves the list and the Governor signs it into law. Funds are then held for two years for each project, but the state will routinely give a one-year extension, Woerner said. The city can apply for additional Bradley Cove grants in future rounds of Green Acres funding.
The city and iStar will now attempt to come to an agreement on how to preserve the land, including the amount to be paid iStar for its rights to develop the property. Discussions have been taking place between city and iStar officials on Bradley Cove preservation, Woerner said.
“This is a important victory for the movement to save Asbury Park’s north end beach,” said Woerner, who has worked on the issue for over seven years as the former chairman of the Jersey Shore chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Woerner was elected to the council in November and took office in January.
“It affirms what we have known all along — that this is a very special location on the Jersey Shore and must be preserved,” he said. “We will have $1.35 million to provide iStar with fair market compensation as they have always requested.”
Brian Cheripka, iStar’s vice president of land, said on Thursday that iStar will work with the city on the preservation of the Bradley Cove tract. But it must receive fair market value for its development rights, just as it must pay to others when it acquires property in the waterfront redevelopment zone, he said.
The next step is two independent certified appraisals to establish the fair market value, Woerner said. The city, iStar and Green Acres are working together on the proper timing for the appraisals, he said.
Asbury resident Joyce Grant, an environmentalist who’s worked on the Bradley Cove issue for about a decade, called the state’s recommendation of the $1.1 million grant “a power to the people event.”
“[A waterfront park at Bradley Cove] means to me no townhouses to mar the view or hurt the land but the preservation and creation of a resilient, sustainable oceanfront park to ensure our water quality, protect threatened or endangered plant and animal life…and continue to maintain open access to a critical recreational public area on the last undeveloped and natural area on the oceanfront in Asbury Park,” said Grant, the chairperson of Citizens for Oceanfront Preservation.