Join Our Telegram Channel


Using a State grant funded by our gas tax, Lakewood Township is expected in the coming year to install an asphalt bike path around the John Patrick Sports Complex as well as along the Vine Avenue and Salem Street frontages of the park, and around the Park-and-Ride the Lakewood Industrial Commission opened last year on Swarthmore Avenue, FAA News has learned.

Lakewood Township's Unified Development Ordinance officially requires sidewalks in every Site Plan and Subdivision application. However, up until a few years ago, despite the numerous amount of schools which have been built throughout the industrial park; due to pressure from the Lakewood Industrial Commission, who was pressured by the warehouse owners who were hoping to discourage schools from building in the industrial park, the Planning Board routinely granted waivers from installing sidewalk on applications in the Industrial park.

In March 2019, Yeshiva Orchos Chaim applied to the Planning Board for a minor expansion of their existing campus on Oberlin Avenue and Cedar Bridge Avenue. The Industrial Commission wrote a very strong letter to the Planning Board urging them to grant a sidewalk waiver. The Industrial Commission even instructed that their letter be read into the public record at the Planning Board meeting. As a result, despite some residents urging the Planning Board to require sidewalks, the Board granted a waiver.

(Ironically, the Industrial Commission was urged to write their letter to discourage the Planning Board from requiring installation sidewalks for a school - when the whole reason to discourage sidewalks was planned as a way to discourage schools from building in the industrial park).

Following this Planning Board sidewalk waiver, residents complained to Mayor Ray Coles about this strong move from the Industrial Commission, arguing that numerous schools have been built throughout the industrial park and it is now time to require sidewalks on new construction in the industrial park.

In response, Mayor Coles directed the Planning Board to stop granting sidewalk waivers on industrial park applications. Due to the additional cost to providing sidewalks along the longe frontages, Mayor Coles stipulated that developers could install meandering asphalt walkways in lieu of concrete which is more expensive.

In order to give a boost to the connectivity of sidewalks in the industrial park, Township officials, at the helm of Mayor Coles also began to explore the possibility of launching their own project of installing walkways along portions of roads in the industrial park. At the recommendation of a local resident, they applied for a NJDOT Municipal Aid grant for bike paths along the loop section of Swarthmore Avenue and Lehigh Avenue, as well as around the John F. Patrick Sports Complex and along the Vine Avenue and Salem Street frontages of the park.

NJDOT Municipal Aid is an annual state program which awards grants to municipalities to improve local roads, enabling local governments to significantly reduce or eliminate reliance on local property tax dollars to support their projects. This fund program is part of Transportation Trust Fund reauthorization in October 2016, which raised the gas tax.

In January 2020, DOT awarded the Township only $375,000 for this grant - the Township's proposed complete project would have cost about 3 times that amount.

Additionally, industrial park property owners balked at granting the Township the necessary easements to install sidewalks in front of their property.

Instead, Township officials decided to reappropriate the grant to install an asphalt bike path around the Park-and-Ride they built last year on Swarthmore Avenue in the Industrial park, thereby providing residents with a new location to "catch a breather" by parking and riding and enjoying the outdoors.

The project was held up until now as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) was reviewing a CAFRA permit for the John Patrick Park (as explained more in depth here on FAA News).

The Municipal Aid grant had a contract award deadline date of no later than September 2022, however, due to the hold up of the CAFRA permit, DOT granted the Township an extension on granting the bike path grant.

Township officials recently completed soliciting bids from prospective contractors for construction of the bike paths. The Township Committee is expected to formally award the contract in January. Construction is likely to take place in the spring.

The John F. Patrick Sports Complex is a public park covering approximately 38 acres and includes soccer fields, baseball diamonds and associated structures, paved parking areas, sidewalks and walking paths, maintenance buildings and sheds, a playground area, and preserved wooded areas.

To join a FAA WhatsApp Group, click here.

To join the FAA WhatsApp Status, click here.

No comments: