Neptune Township rescinds outside eating, leisure permits given out throughout pandemic

News 12 employees

06/02/2021, 10:23 PM EDT

Updated on:06/02/2021, 10:23 PM EDT

A Monmouth County pizza shop owner was able to keep his business open during the pandemic. But he’s now struggling to stay in business.

Many companies across New Jersey were forced to change their business plans when the COVID-19 home stay regulation was implemented. Restaurants have been forced to switch from food services to take-away and al fresco dining.

“We put every dollar we had into this outdoor area. It was literally something that was just a last hope, ”says Vinny Ferrara, owner of Delvetto Pizzeria & Pub.

Ferrara’s restaurant opened just before the pandemic broke out, crippling businesses across New Jersey.

“We were able to make takeout, but that’s not enough to pay the bills. We literally crawled, tried to pay the bills and earned absolutely nothing, ”says Ferrara.

Ferrara says the restaurant got something of a lifeline in June when both Neptune Township and the state approved outdoor dining and entertainment through November 2022. Delvetto has shifted again and added outdoor performances.

“I’ve probably reached out to all of these – probably over 100 different bands, local bands. ‘Hey, do you want to play in my parking lot?’ “Says Ferrara.

The “Tiki Lot” was born. But Ferrara says Neptune Township will lift all outdoor entertainment permeans from June 6th. Outdoor dining permits will be revoked until Labor Day. The permits were all temporarily granted during the pandemic to help businesses stay afloat.

“It’s the only thing that keeps us alive and together,” says Ferrara. “We fight and fight every day just to pay the bills.”

Some customers say they prefer to eat outdoors, especially since COVID-19 is still a threat in the state.

“I’m not going to feel comfortable being inside at this point,” says Red Bank’s Sarah White. “It seems like a real step backwards.”

Other customers say the open air concerts brought the community together.

“A lot of our neighbors from all over the area would meet here and the kids would eat pizza, they would have live entertainment,” says Jill Tramontano of Neptune. “I am very disappointed. I think it was a bad decision on Neptune’s part. “

Ferrara says that if the permits are revoked, he may have to fire some employees as they expect smaller crowds to eat.

News 12 New Jersey reached out to the ward and business administrator for comment but received no response.

Excessive Peaks group recommends hiker permits, more cash for Adirondacks

Cars in a trailhead parking lot along State Route 73 can be seen here on Labor Day weekend in 2020. (Photo – Elizabeth Izzo, Adirondack Daily Enterprise)

The State Department of Environmental Conservation has published recommendations from a committee on how to address the ever-increasing migratory traffic in the high peaks.

The 55-page report, which was in the works for over a year, contains mostly suggestions familiar to longtime Adirondack residents. The report suggests that the DEC investigate a walking permit system to limit usage – something that DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos has called a “last resort” to alleviate usage problems. It is also suggested that the state allocate more resources to address the effects of overuse, develop a strategic plan for visitor usage management, implement management plans already in the books, and put together an online system that will give visitors real-time information on the conditions of the trails and provides parking, starting a pilot shuttle service on State Route 73 and pilot visitor management plan on private land, and increasing the number of rangers and stewards in wilderness areas.

The report also called on the DEC to set up another committee to “lead the development of the Strategic Plan,” establish a new outdoor recreation unit under the umbrella of the DEC, and adopt some of the US National Park Service guidelines for visitor management.

These recommendations come at a time when the state is grappling with a multi-billion dollar budget gap. Although the federal US rescue plan – the latest coronavirus aid package – will provide the state with unrestricted aid worth $ 12.6 billion, Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that the state needs $ 15 billion. Representatives of the Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscal conservative think tank in Albany, have claimed Cuomo’s estimate is exaggerated.

This report completes the work of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group, a committee established by the DEC in November 2019. Its formation followed the summer and fall seasons, when the waves of hiking traffic overwhelmed local resources on days with good weather. The impact of the busy seasons was compounded by a roadside parking ban along Route 73, which was introduced in May 2019. The ban was designed to address public safety concerns, but ultimately caused confusion and frustration as visitors were nowhere to park or park illegally despite no parking signs.

Despite the closure of the US-Canada border, these pre-existing problems worsened last summer. Rather than discouraging visitors outside the city from getting to the Adirondacks, the coronavirus pandemic brought even more visitors to the High Peaks region as people searched for places to escape after months inside. An influx of first-time visitors also brought more cases of litter and abuse of public land. The DEC set up pop-up hikers’ booths in Keene, Lake Placid and North Hudson last summer to keep visitors informed.

The High Peaks Advisory Group was asked to formulate a “strategic planning framework” that included policy recommendations to achieve five main goals: ensuring public safety, protecting hiking trails and natural resources, providing a good outdoor experience for visitors, and providing assistance local people’s economy and decisions based on science and data.

The group includes former Adirondack Council Director of Conservation Rocci Aguirre; Lawyer Sandra Allen; Teresa Cheetham-Palen, Keene Councilor and co-owner of the Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service and the Lodge; Essex County Chairman Shaun Gillilland, R-Willsboro; Seth Jones, director of education, Adirondack Mountain Club; Jim McKenna, CEO of the Regional Sustainable Tourism Office; Pete Nelson, co-founder of the Adirondack Wilderness Advocates; SUNY ESF professor Jill Weiss; Keene City Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson Jr .; and Charlie Wise, owner of the Mountaineer equipment store in Keene Valley.

The group submitted this report to DEC late last year, but the department waited until last week to publish it. A smaller interim report was presented to Seggos last summer. The department also waited weeks to release this report.

Some of the recommendations in this report are more than two decades old – they were set out in the High Peaks Wilderness Unit’s 1999 Management Plan and never materialized. Others have already been included in subsequent amendments to this plan, but have not yet happened. Some of the recommendations the DEC is already implementing, such as enforcing parking regulations along Route 73, partnering with Essex County to launch a pilot walker shuttle system, and posting information about parking availability and closings on social Media and government websites.

In a press release, Adirondack Wilderness Advocates said that “the high peaks need better protection than wilderness”.

“We are concerned that others will shout ‘overuse’ and lead with solutions before the problems and challenges of visitor usage are understood and measured,” the press release said. “We believe that science, data and planning must come first, even when trying out short-term strategies.”

In a statement, Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway praised the report. Prior to becoming head of the Environmental Advocacy Group, he was DEC regional director for the Catskills and the Hudson Valley.

“If adopted, these measures would be a significant leap towards first class management of this world class resource,” he said. “That means both a healthier wilderness and a happier visitor.”

Janeway highlighted a three-year pilot program that first tested the use restrictions for private land. The DEC passed the National Park Service guidelines and called for a new outdoor recreational unit. He also reiterated the recommendation for more funding.

“The Adirondack Council and its partners have requested an investment of $ 500 million over the next five years in these efforts and other measures to protect the park, maintain clean water and support the community,” a council press release said .

Seggos did not say which of the DEC committee’s new recommendations would ultimately implement.

“I am absolutely 100% convinced that the DEC … their heart is in the right place,” said Wilson, the committee member and Keene Town supervisor. “They were committed to the process and gave us all the tools we needed to have these discussions and make these decisions. You stand behind the recommendations that we made for the report.

“There’s a lot more going on in the world than just managing the high usage in the Adirondacks and the High Peaks,” he added. “I think these larger forces will really determine how much the state can address right now. From an optimistic point of view, we are having discussions about how the administration in Keene, the transport, more toilets, a stronger contact with education and visitors can be promoted. I really feel like the DEC worked right on doing this as we prepare for summer. With that in mind, it’s a big problem that needs to be addressed. It will take a lot of work and a lot of requirements to face and recover from the ongoing public health crisis. I am ready to continue our work and be patient. “

A full copy of the committee’s report is available at www.dec.ny.gov/images/lands_forests_images/hpacfinalreport.pdf.

Leisure district to host live shows as pandemic permits

Visit Hot Springs will spin the new downtown entertainment district with four live music block party events every Thursday in June, if the pandemic allows.

Bridge Street LIVE! will have a different live band every Thursday.

The entertainment program includes:

• June 3rd – Memphis Soul Review plays Memphis Rock and Soul.

• June 10th – Arkansauce, a bluegrass band.

• June 17th – The Irie Lions play reggae.

• June 24th – Funkytown plays Memphis Funk.

The events are free and open to the public. Because they are within the confines of the entertainment district, beer and alcohol purchased at restaurants in the district can be carried openly.

“What we can do in the entertainment district is to allow bars and restaurants to sell beer and alcohol in a specific cup,” said event coordinator Bill Solleder. “So we have a branded Bridge Street LIVE! Mug, and they can actually buy the beer in (restaurants) or their outer tents and then walk around the entertainment district freely. Then they can go back in and go in and out of the bar while they enjoy this.” have a specific cup and which stamps or bracelets the bar needs. “

Solleder said the state department for the control of alcoholic beverages is making it easier to hold such events “every now and then”.

“Visit Hot Springs. We need to get a permit from the City of Hot Springs for a specific day (the event is scheduled to take place),” he said. “Then we get permission from the city to do this. So it’s not every day of the week or every weekend. It’s only when the city gives permission.”

Bridge Street LIVE! will be a great way to “test” the district, he said, and learn from and adapt to what they are learning.

“I’m not saying all of a sudden that we can’t open the district every weekend or all the time, but we just have to see how it goes this time and how people react to it and when it benefits everyone,” said Solleder. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Regarding the conduct of events during the COVID-19 pandemic, Solleder said, “We are all holding our breath hoping things will ease up and I think everyone understands that regardless of how we must do things safely But the reason we do when things are open in the early spring and summer, we have the opportunity to be ready to do something instead of waiting and then trying to plan something.

“We plan events and if we can’t have them because of the pandemic, we can’t.”

Although the current restrictions on large gatherings won’t change until June, he said Bridge Street LIVE! can still be held, with limited attendance and masking required.

“So I think there is a way to do this. It may mean fewer people can enjoy what we are doing at the same time, but I think it will be possible,” said Solleder.

Currently, the Arkansas Department of Health requires a submitted safety plan for major events.

“We contacted the Ministry of Health six weeks ago and they asked us to wait until March to submit the application,” said Solleder.

“The reason is because they’re so busy and secondly, we don’t know what the regs will look like this far out. Things seem to be changing pretty quickly right now, so they told us to just wait until March … I have a feeling that they will be very busy and very (carefully) moving forward and giving their approval. “

With high hopes, Solleder asks the community from now until June: “You are all doing your best to protect your guests, customers and customers so that we can get through this and get back to normal.”