By Christine Varno
Residents of the Long Branch’s Beachfront North redevelopment zone, Phase II, have designed a revitalization plan for their neighborhood that one resident said has finally been taken seriously.
“This is the first time someone has really listened to our plan [to revitalize the neighborhood],” said Olga Netto, who lives in the redevelopment zone known as MTOTSA — Marine and Ocean Terraces and Seaview Avenue. “We are not interested in selling our properties, but we want to share our plans.”
On Oct. 21, Roger Mumford, president of Matzel and Mumford Corp., a division of K. Hovnanian, Middletown, designated co-developers for phase II with the Applied Cos., Hoboken, held a meeting with MTOTSA.
Mumford could not be reached for comment by press time.
The developers submitted a redevelopment plan for the MTOTSA properties to the city on Feb. 27, which calls for the three-street neighborhood to be bulldozed and replaced with townhouses and condominiums.
The 36 properties in MTOTSA are slated for eminent domain.
“We support redevelopment,” Netto said. “We do not support eminent domain. Do not tell us we have to leave.”
Mumford sent a letter to MTOTSA on Sept. 7 to “communicate our [Mumford’s] desire to meet with you [MTOTSA] for the purpose of discussing the purchase of your property.”
MTOTSA responded to the letter Sept. 18.
“We are still willing to meet with you as a group, with the understanding that we intend to keep our homes, so we can assure you that we will not stand in the way of any redevelopment you wish to perform on land that you or the city of Long Branch owns,” the group wrote.
For two hours at the Ocean Place Resort and Spa on Ocean Boulevard, Netto, along with Lori Vendetti and Denise Hoagland, presented the overview of the MTOTSA revitalization plan to Mumford.
“We took the city’s original plan and showed how we can fit in with the plans the city already made,” Netto said. “We told our [MTOTSA] history.”
The revitalization plan was initially submitted to the city on May 18 and on Sept. 24 the group went public with the plan.
The plan was submitted with a list of the names of MTOTSA homeowners, all of whom signed a statement saying they wanted to keep and preserve their homes, according to Hoagland.
The plan includes a commitment from the homeowners to repair, restore and remodel the properties to conform to the city’s oceanfront redevelopment project, she said.
MTOTSA requested features to further the revitalization of their neighborhood including:
- Information on how to qualify for funding
- Year-round resident permit parking
- Paving of streets
- Sidewalks that conform with work being done in beachfront north phase I
- Gas light or solar-powered street lights
- Underground telephone and cable lines
- Bike paths and open area.
About 90 percent of MTOTSA homeowners attended the meeting, according to Hoagland, who said she asked the developers to read the revitalization plan and consider keeping MTOTSA intact in the redevelopment plan by blending the new with the old.
“He [Mumford] listened to our plan and listened to our stories,” Netto said. “He [Mumford] was quite surprised that people have been here for an average of 46 years. It [MTOTSA] is a third generation of people.”
MTOTSA asked Mumford in the letter on Sept. 18, “Is your letter [on September 7] an offer to purchase our properties or an offer to provide a condominium in an ‘elevator serviced building’ in exchange for our properties?”
Netto said Mumford was very clear in saying at the meeting that if a MTOTSA homeowner has property of equal value to a condominium, a swap could be arranged. If the property is worth less, he indicated, there would be a problem, according to Netto.
A follow-up meeting will be scheduled within the next couple of weeks, according to Netto.
“Positive things are happening,” she said.