EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Changes are coming to the Bargaintown section of the township, including a traffic light at a busy intersection and the possibility of a new restaurant.
A traffic light is going to be installed at Blackman Road and Ocean Heights Avenue, a joint effort between the township and the county with a price tag of $1 million, sparking ire from some residents and relief from others who want to cut down lengthy wait times during the summer.
“I’m all for it. Something needs to be done there,” Jacqui Alexander said. “It’s an awful, awful intersection.”
Alexander, 34, of the township, said she’s been in accidents and seen accidents at that intersection, and the cost of the project is well worth it, as “no cost is more important than human life.”
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Township Administrator Peter Miller said the township lobbied Atlantic County for several years to have a light installed at the intersection, calling the project “long overdue.” During the late afternoon and early evening rush hour, up to a dozen cars can back up on Blackman trying to turn left onto Ocean Heights, he said.
“We are happy to partner with Egg Harbor Township on this roadway improvement. The addition of a traffic signal at this intersection will enhance the safety of our motorists,” County Executive Dennis Levinson said. “We are currently reviewing the project specifications and expect to go out to bid shortly.”
The township earmarked its half of the funds for the project in 2016, Miller said. The cost includes the relocation of utilities, permits and acquiring land from the north side of the intersection.
Rachel Hoffman, 31, who has lived on nearby Steelmanville Road for the past five years, said there are other options.
“You’re getting people off of Blackman Road, but it’s going to make Ocean Heights traffic worse,” she said. “I can’t imagine how much more backed up it’s going to be. There are other ways that they can make the intersection safer without adding a light.”
She said the township could make Blackman Road a dead end up to a certain point, or it could make it a right turn only.
“People have been begging for the light for years,” she said. “If you know it’s that dangerous, just avoid it.”
The traffic light project goes out to bid in late September or early October.
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Up the street, where Blackman converges with Bargaintown Road and Poplar Avenue, officials approved Victor Klever Rental Properties LLC to transfer an inactive liquor license to the former Chuck’s Hideaway in the spring of this year, township records show.
Klever, 60, said Friday evening that the name of the new bar/restaurant would be Popp's Tavern. He hoped to have it open this month, but it could be next month.
Popp's Tavern would be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with televisions and live music on the premises, Klever said. The tavern's menu would emphasize such comfort food as cheesesteaks, burgers, wings and macaroni and cheese, he said.
The restaurant will have outdoor patio, which Klever hopes to make dog friendly because his family has five dogs.
During the previous decade, Klever owned he Sportmen's Tavern in Wildwood for 12 years. He also was a manager at C.J.'s American Grille in North Cape May, which is still an eatery at the same location under a different name.
The business, which has been vacant for more than a decade, was the site of Chuck’s Hideaway and, before that, Brownie’s Lodge.
Brownie’s was known throughout the region for its Sunday barbecues, according to Press archives. The Hideaway made headlines in 2001 after residents blocked the business from adding a banquet hall, fearing the expansion would create more noise, traffic and problems in the community.
Residents remember the business as a popular spot.
Kevin Grace, 55, of Mullica Township, said the restaurant has been “many things,” from a live-music spot to a biker bar, but during the week it was just a bar.
He said if the new iteration of Chuck’s is a local’s place centered on family dining, it would do well.
“It’s not out of the way, because there are so many people that live out there now,” Grace said. “If it’s the right kind of restaurant, I think it’ll bring people out.”