Belmar Gears Up For Post-Sandy Summer [AUDIO]
With a brand-new boardwalk almost complete and a full booking of summer rentals, Belmar has high expectations for the first tourist season after Sandy.
The borough, which suffered major flooding and lost its entire boardwalk, is making the first steps towards reopening for the season.
Mayor Matt Doherty announced half of beachfront Ocean Avenue will be reopen within the borough from First Avenue to Tenth Avenue.
Since November, crews spent almost six months cleaning sand and debris of the roads. Doherty adds that the entire span of Ocean Avenue within the borough will be reopen by the end of April.
Doherty says virtually of the summer rentals are re-open and have been completely booked already, and the borough's iconic bed and breakfasts are anticipating a good season.
"One way we can actually quantify that is our beach badge sales for this season are up 40 percent year to date over 2012. So if you think about it, our beach was demolished and our boardwalk was destroyed, and I think people are really excited to come to the Jersey Shore this summer."
The Mayor believed a lot of the enthusiasm for this summer comes from people across the tri-state area who want to be part of the recovery effort.
"There's more than a financial, but an emotional attachment that residents in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut have to the Jersey Shore. And I think we're going to see a very busy summer season here in Belmar and the rest of the shore."
While there has been some concern over debris washing up, Doherty says it won't be a problem at their beaches since most of the refuse from the storm was initially washed inland after the storm.
"We've had parts of the boardwalk that were pushed in up to six blocks west of Ocean Avenue."
While the hopes are high, Doherty does see complications arising this summer, specifically the travel on Ocean Avenue, which will be opened in Belmar. But there is no word on whether neighboring municipalities will have it clear in time.
"There are still pipes across Ocean Avenue on the border of Spring Lake and Belmar and we don't know when they will be removed because they are SMSA (Southern Monmouth Sewer Authority) authority."
"Ideally, we're all going to be back in the same position, in practice that's not going to happen," says Doherty. "Some towns are going to be in much better condition for Memorial Day weekend."
The borough will hold a grand re-opening for the boardwalk on May 23rd, the week preceding Memorial Day. Governor Christie is expected to attend. Temporary trailers will be used for bathrooms, kitchens, and retail space.