People in the Township disagree strongly about sidewalk and road improvements on Beach Drive / Shore Road. After careful review of the record on the subject, I conclude that the Council has not yet demonstrated a need for this project.
I provide below several facts that influenced my position.
• The five Republicans on the Township Council maintain that the motivation for this project is pedestrian safety. Safety arguments normally sway me. Some observations that keep me from quickly accepting this one include:
o Neither the written record, nor testimony I have heard, show that a traffic safety engineer:
- Concluded that the changes were necessary for safety.
Evaluated the adequacy of the less expensive and less drastic traffic modifications that opponents of the project
- Answered the opponents concerns that the project as proposed would harm safety by increasing vehicle speed.
o When asked whether not building this project would create liability for the Township, Solicitor Belasco provided a very non-persuasive argument. Attorneys usually solidly endorse their client’s position unless it’s wrong.
• Mr. Ridgeway told a recent township meeting that the Township can borrow $2,800,000 without affecting our property taxes. Borrowing that amount for 30 years at 4% would cost $4,773,000, or $216 for every man, woman and child in the township.
In general, this project can be done without creating an environmental disaster. I conclude, however, that the proponents of the project have not demonstrated that:
• The project would improve safety to any appreciable degree.
• The less expensive modifications proposed by the opponents would not protect pedestrians as well.
• The project would not reduce pedestrian safety.
If an independent, knowledgeable, professional shows that the project significantly improves safety, I could support it. Until one does, I cannot.