An attorney for Jenkinson's and Martell's said he is willing to look at the mayor's proposal for dropping the local midnight bar closing law - but he wants to see it in writing.
"He should have his attorney send me his proposal in writing," said attorney Ronald Gasiorowski on Thursday, when asked to respond to Mayor Vincent Barrella's comments at the Tuesday night Point Beach Council meeting.
Barrella said at the meeting that he would not mind repealing the midnight bar closing ordinance if the boardwalk businesses would first withdraw lawsuits against that and the District 4 parking plan.
On Thursday, when told of Gasiorowski's response, Barrella said in an interview on Thursday that he thinks it would be a lot more productive to meet and discuss his proposal.
"Why don't we try sitting down together, listening to each other and then craft something together, as opposed to me putting something out there before we've talked?" Barrella said on Thursday. "I don't know that we're at the point where we would put something in writing. I'm pretty sure that's not the best way to handle it."
Barrella said his comments during the meeting are on on tape, will be in minutes prepared by the municipal clerk, and in a transcript delivered to Jenkinson's and Martell's.
"So why do they need it in writing from me when they get the transcripts?" he asked.
The boardwalk businesses pay a stenographer to record all council meetings and send them transcripts.
The midnight bar closings never went into effect because the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control granted the businesses a temporary stay until an administrative law judge and the ABC make a final decision.
Meanwhile, depositions are scheduled for November in preparation for litigation, on the earlier bar closing and District 4 parking plan ordinances, to move forward, Gasiorowski said.
"We only filed the lawsuits because we believe they're invalid and we still think that," Gasiorowski said. "If Mayor Barrella says he wants to compromise, then he should have his attorney send his proposal to us, without prejudice, and we'll take a look at it.
"I had no forewarning he was going to say this," said Gasiorowski, who seemed surprised that during Tuesday night's Point Beach Borough Council meeting Barrella floated the proposal.
Ed McGlynn, a Jenkinson's attorney, was also asked for a response to Barrella's remarks. Jenkinson's sent the following statement, which does not actually say if they are willing to consider dropping the lawsuits:
“Jenkinson’s is encouraged by reports that the mayor is willing to rescind the 12 a.m. bar closing in return for a dismissal of the lawsuits. Jenkinson’s has not been contacted yet; however, we would welcome a resolution to all outstanding matters.
“We would hope he could convince his constituency a settlement is best for all the citizens of Point Pleasant Beach.”
Patch left messages for McGlynn and Marilou Halvorsen, Jenkinson's Marketing Director, asking if the statement means they will consider dropping all lawsuits, but they did not provide any further elaboration.
Barrella made it clear that he is talking about repealing only the midnight bar closing ordinance, not the District 4 parking plan ordinance, which he feels was effective in reducing noise and disturbances in the residential section of District 4 this past summer.
The ordinance restricting parking for non-residents from midnight to 6 a.m. in District 4 expired on Sept. 15. If council wants to re-establish the parking plan for next year, it will have to introduce and adopt a new ordinance.
It would be one thing for the boardwalk businesses to agree to withdraw lawsuits against earlier bar closings in exchange for that ordinance to be repealed.
It would be quite another matter for the businesses to agree to withdraw lawsuits against the parking plan when, clearly, the mayor and at least a few council members thought the plan was a success and may establish the same or similar type of parking plan next summer.
Also at the Tuesday night meeting, Barrella asked council members to come to the next meeting prepared to discuss if they want to establish the same parking plan, or a different one, for next summer.