Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty asked the Board of Chosen Freeholders to keep municipalities informed about the process of privatizing the county’s movable bridge operations.
The board voted on Nov. 9 to unanimously approve a $1.485 million one-year contract with Florida-based Drawbridge Services, Inc. The contract was subsequently assigned to Drawbridge Services, Inc.’s newly-formed affiliate, East Coast Drawbridge Corporation.
Doherty addressed the freeholder board during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at the Hall of Records building, explaining that he first learned of the privatization effort from a report on Patch.
“I am an advocate for privatization of services where it makes sense. My concern on behalf of my residents and, in particular, on behalf of the boat owners we have, is that we were never included in any conversations. We were never notified that the county was thinking of doing this to the drawbridge,” Doherty said.
The four movable bridges that will have bridge operations privatized include the Oceanic Bridge, Sea Bright Bridge, the Shark River Bridge, and the Glimmer Glass Bridge.
Freeholder Director Robert Clifton said county personnel and representatives from East Coast Drawbridge Corporation will meet with officials from communities affected by the change.
The county employs 28 full-time workers to tend and operate the drawbridges. Those employees will be interviewed by East Coast Drawbridge Corporation
Freeholder Tom Arnone, former mayor of Neptune City, asked Doherty to forward any concerns raised by boaters and residents in the Belmar area to him.
“Obviously we come from the same region of the county. I’m pretty sure I’m familiar with some of those boaters as you are. I would definitely have no problem discussing this process with them,” Arnone said.
Doherty thanked the board for responding to his questions and concerns and requested increased communication on any developments in the privatization effort in the future.