With new roads and rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy continuing, Toms River officials will seek $1.5 million from the state Department of Transportation to help bring a “streetscape” plan long-sought by residents to fruition.
After an initial motion by Councilman George Wittmann to set aside the plan to seek grant funding because the township’s land use committee had not yet seen it, Councilwoman Maria Maruca convinced her fellow members of the governing body to approve the application following a short presentation on it by Township Engineer Bob Chankalian.
The streetscapes plan was largely developed with input from members of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association. The township hired a engineering firm, Maser Consulting, to help draw up plans to beautify the neighborhood through several small projects that would add to the aesthetic charm of Ortley Beach.
The streetscape plan will include new signage entering and exiting Ortley Beach on Route 35 and Bay Boulevard – an “arbor gate,” Chankalian said – and new plantings and signage around the community. The signage is intended on developing an identity, or brand, of the neighborhood and even having art-inspired sculptures or other pieces to denote landmarks.
The plan is also intended to help differentiate Ortley Beach from Lavallette, recognizing that it is a separate island community. An idea from the taxpayer group was to use the dolphin logo from the water tower to mark the boundaries of the neighborhood. Other ideas have included lantern lighting for the Route 35 business district and better accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“We don’t have a lot of land in Ortley Beach, but everyone was interested in streetscapes with the new roadways being fixed from Superstorm Sandy,” said Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill.
“We’ve been working on this four years to the month,” said Cathy Crisafulli, a 6th Terrace resident. “This is the first grant that we have been able to apply for and are ready to apply for with all of the paperwork that has been done.”