Seaside Heights continues boardwalk rebuild effort

With summer months away, Seaside Heights residents and business owners on the boardwalk are trying to repair the damage from last fall's massive fire.
March 14, 2014 2:40:10 PM PDT
It was back in September when an accidental fire destroyed 50 shops in a five-block area straddling Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, including the Funtown Pier.

Six months later crews are just about to finish replacing the part of the damaged boardwalk owned by Seaside Heights and waiting for construction to begin on the stretch south of here that is privately owned.

"The goal is to be open for Memorial Day with a boardwalk that connects straight from the Heights to the Park," said Mike Loundy, Director of Community Improvements.

The private property owners have decided that rather than delay the project applying for federal aid, they will foot the bill to replace the boardwalk themselves.

However there's another issue.

"In order for a government entity to put in a boardwalk on a private property they would require an easement, and the easement would legally split the property in half," said Kim Pascarella, attorney and property owner.

That's not something they're willing to go for and so the owners are dipping into their own pockets to rebuild.

Officials say rebuilding and reconnecting the boardwalk by summer is critical. The boardwalk and the beach are what draws tourists and their dollars.

"You want to be able to walk through and connect from the rides, you want to go get a piece of pizza, you want to grab a beer, you want to be able to walk the boardwalk," said JoJo Hughes, bartender.

Which is why the pressure is on to repair the few buildings left standing after the fire, like the Sawmill Bar, and replace the missing boardwalk.

"Actually the building can't open without the boardwalk because the egress, the doors open to the boardwalk, so that's the main piece of the puzzle," said Chris Sabey, Sawmill Project Manager.

The plan is to put temporary rides and arcades on the new boardwalk for this summer and send a message to tourists

"We'll let people know that progress is being made, we are open, come down here and we're ready to go and that's huge for us," said Mayor Bill Akers, Seaside Heights.

The cost to replace the missing section is estimated to be over $1 million.

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