Not quite capping a three-year controversy, the Asbury Park Planning Board this week approved a beachfront pool club that supporters say will fuel the shore resort’s rebirth as an upscale getaway but critics condemn as an exclusive enclave that would further divide the haves from have-nots.
The board voted 5-2 vote Monday night to grant preliminary and final site plan approval to the city’s designated waterfront developer, Manhattan-based iStar, for a block-long pavilion on the beach along Ocean Avenue in the citys northeast corner.
The club would contain a 30 X 100-foot swimming pool, cabanas, changing and restrooms, and an observation deck where members could sip cocktails and gaze out over the bodies on the beach, the surfers on the waves and deep blue sea, from behind walls rising as high as 18 feet above the sidewalk and sand.
But opponents have insisted since the project was unveiled in 2018 that the members-only club is counter to the inclusive, egalitarian ideals of at least part of the city’s historically diverse and artistically-inclined population.
And they are now calling on officials to reconsider Monday night’s approval in light of concerns raised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that could have dramatic consequences for the entire city.
In letters and emails obtained by the group Save Asbury’s Waterfront through an Open Public Records Act request, FEMA informed city officials in early March that the project appeared to violate federal…