Robert De Natale, who is five months shy of starting his second year as Bayville’s mayor, said he was proud of the work that his administration accomplished in 2018. He has many plans for 2019, and is already making progress.
Last week the village learned that it had secured a New York State Senate Highway Funding Grant of $500,000. That’s good news, De Natale said, because now some much-needed work can move forward, including the resurfacing of all or part of the deteriorating Mountain Avenue, Creek Road, Godfrey Avenue, School Street and Merrett Lane.
“The grant is a welcome improvement to our infrastructure, and will go a long way in maintaining safe thoroughfares throughout the village,” De Natale said. “Ongoing maintenance is an expensive program, and this grant will allow for us to make the necessary improvements at no expense to the taxpayers.”
He is also proud of securing approval for an overhaul of the drainage system on Bayville Road at the Tides Motel, which will alleviate the extensive flooding problem there. It was dangerous, De Natale said, when two of the three traffic lanes flooded after a heavy rain. The village is working on a “big dig,” as he described it, with the county’s Department of Public Works to correct the problem.
Steve’s Pier property
Perhaps the biggest news is that Leonard Gross, the owner of the Steve’s Pier property, at 33 Bayville Ave., has a new investor, Ward Management, which is currently developing the Tides Motel into a Wyndham franchise.
Once a beachside landmark, Steve’s Pier was torn down in 2009. Today the property remains an eyesore and a constant source of angst for residents. The former developer, Craig Kirsch and architect Greg Andrea presented plans in 2015 to residents for the building of a seaside inn on the property, which was unpopular with some residents. The plan was supported by other residents who aligned themselves with the prior administration, led by former Mayor Paul Rupp, which was divided in its support for the inn. But only the foundation was ever built.
Rupp chose not to run for re-election last June, and the win by De Natale and other members of his party — who ran their campaigns promising to quash the plan for an inn — has been interpreted as a message sent by residents that they too do not want it.
The Tides is going to be called Stehli Beach Resort, De Natale said, adding that he didn’t know when it would be completed. The new hotel, coupled with what he hopes will happen at the Steve’s Pier property — that it become an events center, restaurant and spa — would be very good for Bayville, he said.
The current plans for the Steve’s Pier property indicate that the building will be three levels utilizing the foundation that is already there. The front of the façade will give the appearance of a two-floor building because the third floor will be on the back of the building, traveling downward to be level with the beach.
“They want to build quick,” De Natale said, adding that there will be a presentation for residents at the next board meeting on Jan. 28 at Bayville Intermediate School. “I had wanted to see the area become a preserve, but we don’t have the money to do that.”
Bayville Bridge construction
The Bridge Repair Rehabilitation Committee met with Kenneth Arnold, the commissioner of the county’s Department of Public Works regarding the timeline for the county’s plans to repair the bridge. The contract will be put out for bids this spring with the bidding and awarding of the contract expected to be complete by June.
De Natale said the committee came up with a timeline for the closure that will be easiest for residents and businesses. “We didn’t want the county to close the bridge during peak times or in the dead of winter,” De Natale explained. “We want to avoid sending our residents into the backroads in the snow.”
Work on the bridge will begin in September and continue for 24 months, De Natale said. One lane will be closed during construction except for the months of November 2020 and April 2021 when the bridge will be closed completely.
The county is spending $18 million to refurbish the bridge, which will be completely automated. The committee will be meeting again with Arnold in February for an update.
A microbrewery, to be called, Old Tappan, is coming to Bayville. It is currently being built in the strip mall on the east side of Ludlum Ave., where there are three empty storefronts. That’s good news for Bayville, De Natale said, because microbreweries are popular, and may bring in tourists.
He said his administration has been working hard to fill the empty storefronts in the village, adding, “Hopefully, the microbrewery is only the beginning.”
The bocce ball courts at West Harbor Beach may soon be a thing of the past. De Natale said the courts aren’t being used and would be the perfect location for a water/sprinkler park for area children. Discussions are in the early stages, but he is hopeful the village will move forward with the idea.
Facelift for the Community Center and Village Square
The mayor said that work needs to be done on the Bayville Community Center. “We have invested in our infrastructure by fixing the roof and addressing the water damage issues there,” De Natale said, “but it looks like an industrial building right now. Why not clean it up and refurbish it too? I’d like to also have it re-landscaped.”
He has already met with the Bayville Beautification Committee to share his ideas on how to improve the Village Square. “I’m planning on putting a gazebo in the middle and I’ve asked the committee members to replace the shrubs,” De Natale said.
He said his administration is trying to move the village forward. “I’m proud of what the board has done and the people who work for the village,” he said. “They are smart and dedicated. I am very pleased with the state of our village.”
Bayville will be celebrating its 100th birthday this year. A committee has been formed for the celebration, which will take place in March, kicking off at the Bayville Historical Museum. De Natale said activities are being planned for the summer.