MIDDLETOWN, NJ-Redevelopment is de rigueur in land-strapped New Jersey, and the latest project to surface is a proposed makeover of 15 acres of waterfront property in this Monmouth County township’s Belford section. Those plans, developed by the Morristown-based consulting firm Louis Berger Group with some help from Rutgers University and Brookdale Community College relating to environmental issue, are slated to be unveiled at a public meeting tonight.

“We are seeking public feedback on a draft economic feasibility study and conceptual development plan for the Port of Belford,” reads a statement issued by the township’s planning department. “The plan resulted from a comprehensive…analysis of the economic and physical viability of commercial development at the Port of Belford….”

According to a copy of the 63-page proposal obtained by GlobeSt.com, the plan is to upgrade and expand on the Port of Belford’s commercial fishing heritage. The site, at the mouth of Compton’s Creek at Raritan Bay, is described in the report as the oldest commercial fishing port on the US East Coast and remains the home of an active fishing fleet.

The plan covers adjacent tracts totaling 15 acres, including a six-acre plot owned by the Belford Seafood Co-op and nine acres owned by Seaport Associates. The latter site once housed a fish processing plant, which was razed a number of years ago and is currently vacant. Just to the west of the site is Hovnanian Enterprises’ Dunes at Shoal Harbor, a 122-unit, 23-acre luxury townhouse community completed in 2005.

Elements of the plan being unveiled this week include commuter-oriented retail to serve the adjacent Belford Ferry Terminal, a county-owned facility currently leased to and operated by NY Waterway. Completed in 2002, it provides high-speed service to Manhattan.

Also part of the plan are a 9,000-square-foot maritime-oriented discovery center; an expanded 10,000-square-foot retail seafood operation; a 22,000-square-foot marine research center to foster business incubation, fishery management, research and education/workforce training; storage facilities; an outdoor amphitheater; and multiple landscaped courtyards and plazas.

Local officials also want to add a full-service hostelry to the mix–tentatively named the Bayshore Inn–and the existing but shuttered Pirate’s Cove restaurant would be expanded and reopened. The site’s 700 feet of frontage along Raritan Bay and Compton’s Creek would get a new boardwalk and an existing bulkhead along the water would be rebuilt.

Township officials also say they will seek a variety of county, state and federal assistance to help the project along. The plan also calls for the four-dozen members of the seafood co-op to allocate a portion of their profits to pay for the upkeep of the docks.

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