On Wednesday, July 17, 2013, a survey was initiated to determine what the residents of Holgate preferred for the replacement of the park and beach access area west of the former Bonds Life Saving Station at the bay ends of Janet and Joan Streets. Thus far, ninety-one (91) responses have been received. The following can be gleaned from these responses:
- Ninety-one (91%) of the respondents prefer that the tennis courts be re-built.
- Seventy-five (75%) of the respondents want the basketball court to be re-built.
- Thirteen percent (13%) want to see more swings and gym equipment installed for the children.
- Eleven percent (11%) would like to see more benches (seating) especially if a gazebo is not included in the rebuilding.
- Only eight percent (8%) would prefer a gazebo in lieu of the tennis courts.
In general, the overwhelming majority of residents want the park and playground areas to be rebuilt as they existed prior to Sandy with some improvements such as additional swings and benches. I have learned that the residents of Holgate want very much to be part of the decision making process and they get upset when changes are made based on the input of only a few. Most residents would be in favor of a gazebo if there were enough space and funds available. Some see the shade provided by a gazebo to be a positive amenity. However, there was some concern that a gazebo would attract “visitors” lingering after hours so closing the park at a reasonable time is required. Most see the addition of a gazebo as an additional benefit but not at the expense of the tennis courts. If space, funds and/or economic justification of a gazebo are untenable, a lot of “Good Will” within the community will accrue just by adding additional benches for seating
Several e-mails I received were extremely interesting and informative and I wanted to share them with you.
“Hi – We have a house on McKinley and Rosemma. Our kids have grown with Holgate as their second home. They have often utilized the tennis court at the park with my older one starting a life-long love of tennis because of it. We have always enjoyed the informality of the local tennis court. We have seen many kids and families having a great time learning to play. It is a wonderful asset to the neighborhood. Two years ago when we were looking for a new house my kids insisted that we remain near the tennis court, this was their only demand. We would like to see the park rebuilt as it was. Perhaps the town could add a gazebo to the previous plan to add additional seating and enjoyment.”
“Thank you for keeping us aware of the townships plans for park. Being an avid tennis player for twenty years, we chose Holgate for the special place that it is to live, but the tennis courts were the icing on the cake when we chose to buy a beach property. I would love to see the tennis courts replaced. The courts add value to Holgate, attracts wonderful tennis families to our neighborhood and it sure beats driving all the way into town and paying to play. Many of my renters are also tennis players and I would like to be offering this amenity next year to my repeat renters.”
“I strongly support the reconstruction of the tennis and basketball courts. As the only sports facilities on the south end, they are an important amenity for summer visitors and residents. A well placed gazebo could serve as some additional seating for viewing the basketball court, tennis court and sunsets. Also, a new signup board/bulletin board for players to meet up or arrange play times would be a nice addition as would a tennis and ball throwing practice wall facing the basketball court. We have such a play wall setup in our neighborhood park at home and it attracts a lot of kids. Finally, a water fountain would be a great addition. Thanks for your efforts.”
“Dan: Thanks for your response. Of course, many of us who live near the park are sensitive to these issues. Years ago, the township tried to put in a boat slip at the end of Joan. Luckily, vigilant neighbors protested and the lands were marked as federally protected wetlands (although that sign was lost to Sandy). Several years ago, I was on a task force that suggested the alternative to the big Barney slide. It was nice that the township gave us a jungle gym that was brown and sort of blended in with the environment. However, at first they wanted it to have all this “castle” stuff on top of it. Many of us see how unattended children climb on top and jump off or kids push each other off; and it scares us and opens the township up for more liability. The township also wanted to cover the walkway. Again, many of us told the township that people like to sit in the sun out there and many were afraid children would climb up on top of it. They agreed after they saw some photos. People urged the township to put more benches in the park. It never happened.”
“Thanks for the opportunity to comment on the reconstruction of the little Holgate bay-view park. We have lived in the area for 28 years; on Joan Road. To cut to the chase, we would like to see the dune fencing replaced, the dunes rebuilt and planted, the tennis court rebuilt, a bench placed by the tennis court and another by the play area and maybe the reconstruction of the half-court basketball court and a few garbage cans. We say maybe on the basketball court since it has caused noise and other disturbances for local residents over the years.
A number of years ago the town commissioners prepared a plan for the area that included decks, a dock, multiple tennis courts and a full basketball court, bathrooms and on and on. It was this proposal that caused a resurgence of the Taxpayers Association. The neighborhood was galvanized against the plan and ultimately it was scrapped. The consensus then, and I believe now, from the local residents is that this is one of the only places on the island that has remained mostly in a natural state and it should continue that way. Much of it was purchased with Green Acres money which greatly limits what can be done on the property. Later when the town wanted to build a gazebo on the site we modified their proposal to include the current seating deck and boardwalk that a few people use each night to watch the sunset. I don’t think that the current proposal for a gazebo will do anything but create a “party place” in the middle of a residential area. We asked for some playground equipment and they provided us with the requested equipment. We asked for the tennis court to be resurfaced and that was done.
The park was quite a bit larger when we moved here. There was a bulkhead that extended from the north boundary for about 200′. Once the township removed that we have seen about 20′ of beach disappear. The drain pipe used to be longer by from 20′ to 30′ but as the beach became smaller the pipe extensions were removed. Several years ago the township made this a guarded swimming beach cordoned off for safety. The first year there was a lifeguard there full time that was so bored (no swimmers at all) that we gave her books and magazines to read to pass the time. The next year the lifeguard was only there part time and the third year the swimming area was gone all together. What you do see is parents teaching kids about nature. You do see people watching the birds feeding along the shore line, and you do see kids having fun on the playground equipment.
We note that the parking lot at the southern end of Holgate has been doubled in size. Would it not make more sense to place the gazebo on the bunker or some other area where there is parking and bathrooms? A gazebo on the bunker with views of the ocean, wildlife area and bay makes much more sense than locating it in the last little nature park in Holgate and maybe in the Township.
We suggest that the Taxpayers Association support the return the park to its former state. Let’s keep a little bit of green space and nature in Holgate.”