Considerations for the improvements of Jacob's Beach have been in development for several years, and last night at the community center, the project's Architect and Technical Landscape Designer presented their proposals for the Beach. Park and Rec members facilitated the meeting.
Park and Rec explained that the proposed plans are a result of several surveys concerning improvement possibilities, as well as extensive feedback from town resident.
Key improvements that are on the proposed plan include, but are in no way limited to, the following:
- A parking lot with space for 84 cars, including 4 Handicap Parking spaces
- A Boardwalk with no railing that meets current grading standards
- Several trees to provide shade throughout the area, as well as shrubbery throughout
- Improvements, though not extensive, will be made to the bathroom facilities, including changing the partitions, installing skylights, and painting walls
- A permanent Shade Structure by the playground
- Several Shower podiums
-The #1 Priority on the capital budget is a new type of sand cleaning machine that goes 3 inches deep to remove shells, rocks, seaweed and will help make the beach more attractive
It was made clear that none of these possibilities would occur until certain steps are taken to clean up the Beach. This will include the sand being pushed back to its location before Sandy.
After hearing the proposed plans, Guilford residents asked several questions and gave their feedback concerning the project:
"I've lost many trees after Sandy, how are these new trees and shrubberies survive?"
The Response: All of these trees and shrubs are salt resistant, which is part of the reason they were selected.
"Are there areas of the Boardwalk that are removable to allow for maintenance vehicles and the like to get down to the beach?"
The Response: There are access points that are built into the plan to allow for vehicles, including emergency vehicles, to get down to the beach.
"The water to the facilities down by the beach are shut off at dusk, is it possible to get a separate water supply for staff and crew to use after hours?"
"What are the costs of maintenance of these proposals if another storm should hit?"
The Response: These costs are being worked on.
"Can the skylights in the bathrooms be made of obscured materials?"
The Response: It appeared that this proposal was accepted preliminarily.
"Was a removable shade structure considered since it will only be used half of the year?"
The Response: It was, however, to get material that is removable would cut the lifetime expectancy of the material in half. The issue of storage would also add expenses.
"My wife compiled this graph (please see attached PDF) based on the feedback on one of the surveys. According to this information, a small minority of people seemed to make requests for additional shade, and yet it seems to be one your main features in the plans. Many people called for improvements to the playground, and yet that's not being addressed."
"Can the grass strip be on the other side of the Boardwalk?"
"I appreciate that trees were taken out for this new plan, but i still feel as though trees will block views of Seaside Avenue residents. Even though you're stating they will be single trunk trees, as residents rebuild structures higher, these trees will have a significant impact on people's views. I would like to see less trees."
"I'm concerned. Why are we planting trees that could grow to 50 feet high? As a Seaside Avenue resident, this will undoubtedly affect my views of the beach and ocean. I also have concerns about the color of the shaded structure, since I have to look at it everyday. Lastly, I'm worried about the crushed stone in the parking lot for those not coming by car, like on a bike, or those pushing baby carriages."
The Response: The color for the shade structure is not yet determined. There is paved access for those on bikes to access the boardwalk.
"I'm concerned about any pavement in this area, like what is currently proposed for some of the parking lots. After seeing the pavement buckle in countless areas in Sandy. I have the same concern about the boardwalk. I also don't like the shade structure. The beach is for sand and sun. We have to look at the beach for what it really is."
"Jacob's Beach is something that, improved, is going to drive tourism and support successful businesses in town, which is important. I've been a resident for 34 years and I see it as a town asset that needs to be improved. When we talk about preserving our natural resources, this is what we are talking about. I'm also happy about the grant the town has received to work on this project, and hope we will pursue others in the future."