By Ed Kelley
My first opinions of the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor were arrived at from the perspective of a commuter and not a resident. Those opinions have evolved. Now I look at the Harbor from the perspective of a taxpaying resident and someone that is anxious to see our quality of life continues to improve and that our stature as a community in Northern Monmouth County continues to elevate. Here is my opinion on where the debate starts:
What does the average commuter want from Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor? Convenient well marked parking, shelter from the weather while waiting for the boats to arrive, and rapid access to/egress from the parking area and the town of Atlantic Highlands in general. Maybe some commuters would like a place to get a paper or a cup of coffee and a roll on the way to the harbor or at the harbor itself.
What does a boater want? Inexpensive docking/storage, a place to get last minute needs such as bait and fishing tackle, beverages and snacks and fuel. They also want convenient parking and waste receptacles and perhaps a place to grab some food and drink after a day on the water while they wait out the weekend traffic. They, like the commuter, want rapid access to/egress from the parking area and the town of Atlantic Highlands in general when the time comes.
What does a resident want? A place where they can walk/cycle/jog and enjoy the bay front without dodging speeding visitors cars. A place where a family can grab an affordable meal along the water? Many residents want the ability for residents to shop and walk downtown without worrying about speeders on First Avenue. Many residents want a Municipal Harbor that contributes more generously to the town economy. Many want a harbor that accommodates a little kid that wants to crab or fish without having to walk across a snarl of hoses or electrical cords. Is it too much to ask for a harbor where the green space is closest to the water and the parking is set back? A common wish I hear expressed is some parking reserved for residents.
Can we accommodate all these interests? Are the interests that divergent that no compromise is possible? Did I miss something?