Atlantic Highlands considers purchasing a car wash

According to a story in the Asbury Park Press today, Atlantic Highlands is considering spending $1.2 million on the purchase and possible improvements to an abandoned car wash on West Ave.

Township Clerk Dwayne Harris suggested the purchase of the facility at the township’s July 9th meeting. His reasoning for the purchase is because in 2009, washing vehicles in driveways and on the street will be prohibited by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s storm water management regulations and as a result, every vehicle, including municipal ones, will have to go to a car wash to be washed.
Harris thinks that the car wash can be purchased then ran as an utility which would be self sustaining to generate revenue to pay for itself.  Residents would pay $5 per wash while nonresidents could possible be charged $10.
Mayor Fred Rast thought that this was a good idea, so the township will be looking into the idea further.
My personal feelings on this is that government should not get involved in the private sector, it would prohibit local businesses from competing on a level playing field. Also, if this car wash was viable in the first place, why has it sat empty for 3 years?
On the surface this seems like a good idea, but there are many hidden costs to any business and this does not sound like a venture that the town needs to get involved in. Who would manage the car wash? I am sure that an experienced person would have to be in charge of the daily
operations at a decent salary with some kind of benefits package. And who will work there kids? I think not, any car wash that I have been to lately are manned by Latinos who may or may not be illegal immigrants. The township would have to spend addition money to run background checks on the people that are hired.
It seems like a bad idea to me, if the Mayor and Township Clerk are worried about residents not being able wash their cars in their driveways anymore then maybe they should look into providing vouchers to its citizens at another local car wash. Vouchers may keep the overall costs to the township in line with whatever the overall cost of operating a car wash themselves would be, without any of the legal headaches associated with running a business of this type.   
Click on the headline to read the APP story

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Atlantic Highlands, Car wash, Dwayne Harris, Mayor Fred Rast

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