Bayside Drive: A road paved with agreement and compromise
The Atlantic Highlands Mayor and Council, their employees, and in truth all the residents of Atlantic Highlands especially those along Bayside Drive deserve tons of credit and admiration for last Thursday’s council meeting. To begin, there were nearly 100 residents on the virtual meeting and the predominant discussion and Q&A lasted three hours or more. Focus of all the discussion was the hopeful soon to be paving of Bayside Drive, corrections to stop runoff from the hill, addition of a couple of areas where pedestrians can be off the road as a car passes and several other improvements that certainly show that borough engineer David Rohmeyer certainly knows what he’s doing. The Bayside residents all wanted to tell their stories, they wanted to talk about the speeders on the road, the fact cars turned around on private property, sometimes damaging hedges and the like when they came to the dead end at the Highlands land and the barrier that left no choice. They wanted to see whether sidewalks could be a possibility, and they talked about parking, signage and guard rails. The engineer displayed the 17 or more pages of drawings, designs, maps for all to see, and painstakingly explained everything about them. It was obvious the engineer had been working with the residents for a long time, he knew all their names, their addresses, and exactly where their homes were on the maps on display. The same with Borough Administrator Adam Hubeny. In letting residents speak at the meeting, he quickly understood if they were having problems unmuting so they could be heard and offered immediate allowances, suggestions, and even phone calls to be sure everyone could be heard. The residents asked intelligent questions and were polite and courteous in the responses, not always necessarily what they wanted to hear. But it was an amazing exchange of ideas, thoughts, and cooperation. Mr. Hubeny, who must work 27 hours a day and be a Mensa candidate with his quick memory and absolute knowledge of so much going on in the borough, made it clear all the ideas were great, some could be adapted sometime in the future, but for now, it would be necessary to concentrate on the immediate job at hand. He reminded everyone the paving is only possible because of three grants the borough had received. But, he said, if the work isn’t underway by March, that money would be gone, could not be used for anything else, and the borough simply couldn’t afford the cost of paving the road. The people understood! They listened attentively, they asked questions, they were more than content, they were grateful, their ideas were listened to and understood. There will be more talk before final approval, putting the work out for bid and the actual construction. But Thursday night’s meeting was an amazing and provocative lesson I how people working together with people can accomplish so much without rancor and discord.