Northern Barrier Peninsula Officials Say They’ll Be Ready for the Summer
Officials from storm and fire battered communities along the northern barrier peninsula are expressing optimism about the 2014 summer tourism season.
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On WOBM AM's Townsquare Tonight Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers, Lavallette Councilwoman Anita Zalom and Seaside Park Councilwoman Gail Coleman gave us an update on rebuilding efforts.
Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers said the three blocks of fire-destroyed boardwalk have been repaired. He also said that If the Polar Bear Plunge was any indicator, they're expecting a robust season this year.
"I really believe that if we get the weather this year, that they will return and I'm basing that on the shoulder season events that we've had already," Akers said.
However, Akers said the message needs to be communicated clearly and it must reflect every town along the beach front stretch.
"I think this year from day 1 we need to let them know, not only Seaside Heights but each of the communities up and down that barrier island are going to be ready from day 1 this year," He said.
Lavallette's business community continues to get off the mat from Superstorm Sandy but Councilwoman Anita Zalom said that very few of the destroyed businesses left. In fact, she said new businesses have opened up. Zalom said the Lavallette Business Association (LBA) is so optimistic that they've put a positive spin on rebuilding efforts with a new campaign.
"They have a special project called 'Pardon Our Dust While We Work to Make Our Town Shine, Enjoy Lavallette' There'll be banners up, all kinds of activities," Zalom said.
Seaside Park Councilwoman Gail Coleman is also optimistic.
"Things are coming along really great in Seaside Park. Our beaches look fabulous. We've been working really hard through the winter and you know with the construction, the road construction. I think we're going to be ready," Coleman said.
However, several factors had her less optimistic about boardwalk rebuilding efforts, following last year's massive fire, because most of the boardwalk is privately owned. Coleman said they are working with the owners and trust that they'll have the boardwalk ready in time for the summer as well.
As far as construction along the Route 35 corridor, Lavallette and Seaside Heights don't anticipate any closures or traffic snarls. Coleman of Seaside Park said they will be working closely with the state DOT to help mitigate any traffic inconveniences during the summer tourism season.
A bright note from the storm rebuilding efforts, officials in each of the towns said it's brought out the best out of people, with residents from other communities offering to come and help. Zalom said she expects a bus load of people from Lakewood Saturday to help with Clean Ocean Action's Spring Beach Sweeps in their town. Officials said they're also seeing unprecedented cooperation between area businesses leaders.