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Avon Pavilion’s Lease Is Illegal Says Mayor

The future of the Avon Pavilion’s lease will be decided by a judge, at least that remains the plan by the Borough Mayor.

Avon mayor Robert mahon (r) and commissioner Frank Gorman
Avon mayor Robert mahon (r) and commissioner Frank Gorman (Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ)

During a public workshop meeting on Monday, Avon by-the-Sea mayor Robert Mahon claimed his decision to pass a motion terminating the Pavilion’s lease stems from what they believe to be an illegal 25 year lease.

“The law that states a municipality can’t grant a lease on beach front property for more than ten years.” Says Mahon.

 

On Friday Avon’s Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of terminating the Avon Pavilion’s lease.

The decision was a complete shock to lease holder Robert Fishman, who has operated the popular restaurant and shore spot for 23 years and was in the process of coordinating rebuilding plans after hurricane Sandy. Fishman says “shocked was an understatement” when he found out the decision by the Board of Commissioners, which he says came without warning.

”I’d gone into the borough hall [Friday] to speak to the borough Administrator to show him some new plans I’d had for layouts, which I had been doing regularly. He says ‘sit down’ and I say ‘what’s up?’ and he says ‘This afternoon I got a letter from our attorneys telling me to put a resolution for tonight’s meeting to take a vote to terminate your lease.”’

Fishman’s attorney, Dennis Collins of the Wall-based firm Collins, Vela, and Casello, issued a letter to the borough giving them 14 days to change their mind.

The also addressed borough plans for beach and boardwalk repair, however much of the questions and comments from residents centered around the lease and Avon Pavilion.

Mayor Mahon and Commissioner Frank Gorman (both voted in favor of terminating the lease) said the move isn’t about more money, but rather to protect them from future legal problems.

Fishman notes his business employs one hundred employees every summer, numerous who have been with the company for over two decades.

“They come back every summer, it’s their career, and it’s their mortgages.”

Mahon acknowledged if it wasn’t for the Superstorm the Borough would likely never have went ahead with their decision.

“I just feel at this point and time when there is no opportunity to run a business this summer, similar to what he ran before, I’d just like clarification as to whether our lease needs to be revised or not in order to conform with the law.”

When asked why they didn’t do something about the lease before if they were aware of potential issues, Mahon acknowledged it was a mistake of the Board.

“We were concerned about the implications of litigation and we just decided not to go ahead with it.”

Adding if the borough succeeds in their suit, and the lease goes back to bid, Fishman is more than welcome to bid on it again.

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