New Life for Long Beach Island Landmark [AUDIO/VIDEO]
While many of the old Jersey landmarks have come and gone, there is still one along a busy stretch of Route 9 in Southern Ocean County.
For many years, it has welcomed visitors to a popular portion of the Jersey Shore. Unfortunately, Superstorm Sandy left it bruised and battered. However, that won't be its state for long.
Long Beach Island, also known by many as LBI, is a barrier island community home to more than 20,000 people year-round. During the summer months, more than 100,000 people are estimated to be on it, through the six small communities. The landmark we're talking about has become quite popular among the residents and tourists alike. We are talking about the famous Long Beach Island Sign.
The sign sits on the grounds of the Southern Regional High School in Stafford Township's Manahawkin. Featuring the "Old Barney" lighthouse, blue waves and huge lettering, the sign actually dates back to the Boardwalk Empire days of the 1920s and 1930s.
During Sandy, the sign took a major beating both structurally and cosmetically. Pieces of the lighthouse blew off, although parts of it were salvaged, some of the letters got warped. Heavy rains and wind took its toll and the actual mechanisms that keep the sign in one piece have folded a bit leading to a slump position in spots.
But that's all about to change thanks to the Southern Regional School District, who is in charge of the sign.
According to School Superintendent Craig Henry, a full, two-phase restoration plan is now in the works. The first part involves a replacing the old wood with new, stronger materials. That goes for bolts and screws as well. They decided to wait until the summer season when school's out in order to bring in the heavy machinery necessary for the work. That should begin very shortly.
"This is about preserving part of our history. It's a landmark and we can't just let it fall to pieces. Once the actual structure is renovated to more of today' standards, then we can deal with the actual art portion of it," said Henry.
And for that, Henry hopes to get art students involved in the process.
"It's about to get a new lease on life and it serves as a symbol for the whole area. Sandy may have breezed in causing damage but it never dampened our spirits," Henry added.
They hope to have the first phase done by the end of the summer and hope to bring in the students and art instructors later in the year.