City Council unanimously passed a resolution Dec. 20 supporting a grant application to build electric-vehicle charging stations in the island.
The potential funding is being offered through the state Department of Environmental Protection's Workplace Charging Grant Program, and through a DEP cooperation with the state Board of Public Utilities called It Pays to Plug In.
Funding for the grants would also come from a $2.7 billion fine automaker Volkswagen was required to pay for emissions violations.
The meeting began with an overview by City Solicitor Fred Scerni of what had been discussed in council's executive session.
Among the items was notice that the guidelines for the city's four-wheel-drive north-end beaches will now fall under DEP rules, and a special permit called the Mobile Sport Fishing Permit will be required. The permit fee is $50 for New Jersey residents and $75 for out-of-state residents, and it will be restricted to recreation related to fishing only.
The permits the city offers will still apply to the Cove beach and south-end front beaches designated for 4WD vehicles, but starting Friday, Dec. 29, city permits will no longer apply to the north end.
According to a press release on the DEP website, nj.gov/dep, the move is being taken to help protect endangered shorebirds, and the vehicle and user guidelines are the same as those offered at Island Beach State Park and Corson’s Inlet State Park.
Those interested in purchasing a state permit can call Bass River State Forest at 609-296-1114, according to the release.
A public information meeting is planned in February to announce management strategies for the North Brigantine Natural Area. The meeting date and location will be posted on the DEP's Division of Parks and Forestry’s link at njparksandforests.org.
In the discussion about the charging stations the city is interested in acquiring, Councilwoman Karen Bew said that the Brigantine Green Team has advocated installing the stations for a long time.
Public Works Superintendent John Doring, the city advisor for the Green Team, said installing electric-vehicle charging stations would help Brigantine move toward its goal of earning silver status in the Sustainable Jersey program, which would open up more opportunities for grants related to environmental protection. Currently Brigantine is a bronze-level municipality.
City Manager Ed Stinson said that if the city were to receive the grants needed to install the stations, they would be placed at the Community Center at 42nd Street and the municipal complex at 14th Street South and Brigantine Avenue.
The DEP Workplace Charging Grant Program is designed to support and encourage employees to purchase and drive electric vehicles to work, which reduces vehicle emissions. Council's desire to pursue the stations, it is stated in the release, stems from the fact that there are 10,000 electric vehicles on the road in New Jersey and fewer than 1,000 charging stations, many of which are not accessible to the public, as Brigantine's would be.
Before formal business began, Deputy Mayor Andy Simpson asked for a moment of silence to honor the passing of Philip J. “Joe” Guenther Sr., who died Monday, Dec. 18. He was the father of Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther, former Beach Patrol Chief Joe Guenther and teacher Maureen Baldwin.
Council unanimously approved a resolution to insert a special item of revenue into the city's 2018 budget. The city received $26,149 as part of the state's Hazardous Waste Recycling Tonnage Grant program.
The program is the same one that allowed Brigantine – as part of a seven-year deal with the Atlantic County Utilities Authority – to provide every residential property of four dwellings or fewer with a lid-equipped 96-gallon trash cart and a 96-gallon recycling cart.
According to Doring, use of the new containers increased Brigantine's recycling rate nearly 11 percent and lowered the hauling-away costs of trash and recyclables.
“The lids helped keep water out and weight down,” added Stinson. “It's very hard to put a number on exactly how much the city saved by doing this, but it is substantial.”
During the meeting's closing comments, Stinson mentioned that he recently met with representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the upcoming beach replenishment on the north end, which is part of an agreement the city has with the Army Corps to do emergency replenishments as needed.
The upcoming replenishment – made necessary by extensive erosion by Winter Storm Jonas in 2016 – will start between Dec. 24 and 29, with a target completion date of Feb. 2. The reason for the rather vague starting date, said Stinson, is because equipment is being mobilized from Louisiana that is moving up the coast at a rate of five knots per hour.
Bew mentioned that seven members of the Brigantine North School choir have been chosen as members of the All South Jersey Choir, which is substantially more Brigantine students than have been selected in years past.
The students – Nico Eafrati, Olivia Heng, Kairo Herber, Molly Hoffman, John McGuire, Deklyn Passerini and Rebecca Price – will perform a show Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27-28 at Washington Township High School.
Councilman Mike Riordan reminded the public that the annual Polar Bear Plunge starts 10 a.m. on New Year's Day at the 14th Street South beach in front of Laguna Grill & Rum Bar. Throughout its history, the event has raised more than $500,000 for the Fisher House Foundation for injured soldiers and their families.
The Billy Walton Band and the Amish Outlaws will both perform. Admission is free.
When the meeting was opened to public comment, Brigantine resident John Pucci suggested that council consider a location to allow overnight stays for RVs and motorhomes. They are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to visit other areas, he said, and could be a good way to boost tourism on the island.
Council's final meeting of the year will be 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28.