Like many communities along the Jersey Shore, Ocean Grove is rushing to restore its boardwalk for the summer season.
But since Ocean Grove isn’t like other municipalities, it’s running into some roadblocks — namely it’s not eligible for FEMA funding of boardwalk repairs.
Ocean Grove is technically part of Neptune Township, but its beaches and boardwalks are belong to a private nonprofit, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. This is due to Ocean Grove’s founding as a Christian Ministry back in the 1800s.
But the association’s Ralph Del Campo says that when it comes to the boardwalk, the difference is just a matter of labeling.
“Because when you come to Ocean Grove, you see absolutely no difference between Ocean Grove and any other town,” said Del Campo, the C.O.O. of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. “And therefore common sense would tell you it’s a bureaucratic issue that needs to be clarified and resolved.”
Ocean Grove wants FEMA to pay 75 percent of the $3 million to $3.5 million it will cost to rebuild the half a mile of boardwalk that Sandy destroyed. Del Campo said Ocean Grove can’t afford it alone.
But FEMA has now denied Ocean Grove’s request for funding twice — initially because, as a private non-profit-owned facility, the boardwalk wasn’t eligible under FEMA’s Public Assistance program. There was information available from the agency Monday on specific reasons the appeal was denied.
Del Campo said the organization will look for other sources of funding, but he’s still hoping FEMA changes its mind. He’s planning to appeal again.