By Maddy Vitale
A nondescript vacant piece of property next to the marshlands holds the key to making the Landis Avenue-Commonwealth Avenue corridor between Sea Isle and Strathmere safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Resolving concerns among Upper Township officials on the Strathmere side, Cape May County plans to use the vacant land to create new parking that will be lost as part of a restriping plan along the busy corridor.
The property is owned by Sea Isle City.
Sea Isle officials have agreed to the county’s plan to turn the land into 200 spaces of parking.
Sea Isle Council President Jack Gibson called it a great compromise.
“Sea Isle City is on board. I personally was pleased to see the county’s solution to the parking that would be lost to make the corridor safer,” Gibson said in a phone interview.
Wider buffers in the three-mile stretch would be created by the restriping plan, to protect bikers and pedestrians from motor vehicle traffic.
The plan calls for using land off of 5th Street for the parking spaces in the compromise. “The restriping will be a nice improvement and a safe one and a badly needed one,” Gibson noted. “The pedestrians and bicyclists need extra space. I think this is a necessary and worthwhile project.”
Upper Township officials also have agreed to the compromise, after originally objecting to the county’s plan for restriping the corridor because it would have resulted in the loss of parking on the Strathmere side.
Upper Township Mayor Rich Palombo said of the project, “We are very pleased that the compromise has come through that will provide ample parking, since parking was taken away.”
He said if the proposal went through as originally planned, there would have been real issues with parking.
“It would have defeated the purpose of restriping,” Palombo said. “When we saw the plan with proposed parking we thought it was a great compromise.”
The project to restripe and add parking spaces is expected to begin in the spring.
Palombo said there may be further amenities in the parking area.
“The county is talking about building a nice facility there with a picnic area,” he added.
Specifically, the plan includes restriping the roadway from 29th Street in Sea Isle to Putnam Avenue in Strathmere. Parking would be taken away on the east side of the road between 26th and 22nd streets in Sea Isle. North of 22nd Street, the project “flips” by eliminating parking on the west side of the road, Robert Church, the county’s engineer, told www.Seaislenews.com in a September interview.
The roadway is dotted with a series of yellow signs warning motorists to be careful of the bikers, pedestrians and, yes, the turtles, in hopes of avoiding accidents.
Michael Dannemiller, principal engineer for NV5, a consulting firm working on the project for the county, had said in a report that there were 16 motor vehicle accidents on the stretch of road between 2012 and 2016. In 2016, a bicyclist was killed by a car in Upper Township. Two pedestrians were injured when they were hit by cars.