Jersey Shore Tourism Season Remains On Track [AUDIO]
Mayors of several of Ocean County’s Northern Barrier Island communities are in a race against time to get their beaches and tourism hot spots ready for this summer season, but is it realistic given the devastation of Sandy?
The mayor’s of Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant Beach and Toms River were in the Townsquare Media studios in downtown Toms River Wednesday night giving an update on where their communities stand.
Toms River Mayor Thomas Keleher says we won’t see a boardwalk this year in Ortley Beach, but they will have some beach front access and humble amenities available.
“We’ve trucked in 400 truck loads of sand a day to the tune of $1.6 million to build dunes at least on the public portion of our beach. We’ve started to rebuild a new lifeguard tower that was destroyed at the north end of Ortley Beach for the summer. If that’s not done and we don’t think it will be, we’re gonna rent some trailers for our lifeguards and we’ll rent these mobile restrooms that we’ll put at that location.”
Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers says their boardwalk is well underway in being put back together and they anticipate anticipate a May 10th reopening. Akers says the boardwalk is the lifeline of Seaside Heights.
“So we need to get our doors open. Our businesses need the doors to be open and our residents need it.”
He says he also feels an obligation to the visitors who need to have amenities in place for the limited time they get to enjoy their vacations.
Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Vincent Barella says they’ve made substantial progress and that they’ve been working in partnership with Jenkinson’s, the owners of most of the borough’s beach and boardwalk entertainment venues.
“They opened up the rides and they have their Easter Sale this weekend for their ride tickets. The center portion of the boardwalk, the commercial section from the aquarium to the end where the rides are is going to be open on Easter Sunday. We’ll be doing our Easter Parade.”
However, all of the mayor’s say the biggest issue centers around the demolition and rebuilding of private homes. Keleher says they finally convinced FEMA to reimburse the township to demolish Sandy destroyed homes. He says 330 homes are scheduled for demolition.
Point Pleasant Beach had 2,000 flooded houses and anywhere from 80 to 200 of those homes most likely considered for demolition, according to Barella. He blames the incredibly slow rate of house rebuilding and restoration on the FEMA flood insurance system.
“It has been an abysmal response by that industry and people just basically don’t have money to rebuild in a lot of cases. ”
Long Beach Island Officials say they’re be ready for the summer, and, of course, beaches and boardwalks south of LBI as well as Atlantic City sustained minimal damage and are already welcoming weekenders and tourists.