Building construction continues on boardwalk consumed by fire

     Buildings taking shape on the Seaside Park boardwalk during early April 2017. (Photo: Jim Brill)

    Buildings taking shape on the Seaside Park boardwalk during early April 2017. (Photo: Jim Brill)

    New buildings are taking shape years after a fire destroyed a stretch of the Seaside Park boardwalk.

    The “boards,” as they’re referenced locally, were rebuilt just before the Fourth of July in 2014 — nearly a year after the massive September 2013 fire — but actual building construction didn’t begin until late last year. 

    The fire consumed the boardwalk north and east of the Sawmill bar and restaurant and the adjacent building that once housed an arcade along with the remnants of Funtown Pier, which was significantly damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

    This summer will be the first season during which locals and tourists walking along the stretch between Seaside Park and Seaside Heights will face obstructions. 

    Seven buildings are currently under construction. Confirmed businesses include Park Seafood Clam Bar, Original Kohr’s, and 3 Brothers Pizza. 

    An expansion to the tiki bar that opened last summer across from the Sawmill, which was damaged by the fire but survived, is also possible in the same location if Seaside Park officials permit.

    The storm resilient construction is expected to be finished by the summer.

    The future of Funtown Pier, which once extended seaward from the construction area, remains uncertain. Late last year, the Seaside Park Borough Council voted to limit the height of any future rides on the boardwalk to 100 feet, citing noise concerns. 

    The owner of the pier, Major Boardwalk Trust, was seeking rides at a height of up to 300 feet. The beach area under where the pier once sat has since been used as a private beach open to the public for a fee.

    Last December, Stephan Leone, the attorney for Major Boardwalk Trust, said that it’s not possible to spend up to $20 million to rebuilt the pier if his client can’t have thrill rides. But he didn’t rule out rebuilding or seeking a height variance. 

    Just to the north, Casino Pier in Seaside Heights is set to open a roller coaster and ferris wheel for the upcoming season. 

    Many moons ago, newspapers would pay regular people to cover local news, mostly community oriented updates at the neighborhood level. 

    The vision is to spark a network of community-minded people to gather, produce, and submit local news — even the most granular material — to a team of editors. This will be supplemented by a curation of other local news.

    How will the public see it? I envision a simple location based app that will prompt the user to either “lock in” his/her location and/or keep it dynamic to see news from other locations when traveling. You could even move around a google map to see news from a particular geographical location. 

    How will it be funded? I envision “sales” people — or even community volunteers who are not interested in the the gathering/producing but want to help the cause — pitching the idea to local businesses to acquire modest buy-ins. There can be an additional marketing inducement, i.e. providing a sticker for their window that says they’re a member of the local news network (whatever I figure out what to call it). Or maybe even perhaps provide small coupons for the contributors in exchange for extra promotion in the news product. 

    For me, the biggest challenge since founding my news organization, Jersey Shore Hurricane News (JSHN), in 2011 has been manpower. I know that’s a problem for most other local news providers. 

    While JSHN has been blessed with having regular unpaid contributors, why not incentivize and formalize the process for everyone in a sleek app that can benefit contributors, the public, and businesses? 

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