BY BOB HOLT
A tropical hardwood known as ipe that is known for its durability is Belmar’s choice in the reconstruction of their boardwalk. Again.
The community ordered $1.2 million worth of wood in 2007 that was advertised to have been harvested responsibly, but canceled the order due to environmentalists’ complaints.
Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty says the community will only rebuild the boardwalk with ipe if it is taken from a sustainable source.
But environmentalists say there is no such thing in endangered rainforests.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, wrote to Doherty discouraging the use of the rainforest wood. He wrote, according to the New Jersey Herald, “Belmar should be concerned about the impacts of global climate change and the impacts from severe weather. Clear-cutting rainforests in the Amazon should not be promoted by a community as environmentally conscience as Belmar.”
“The lakes and the boardwalk are such an intricate part of the character of our community,” Doherty said, according to NJ Today. “It’s gotta get rebuilt and repaired. Belmar will never be the same; the Jersey Shore will never be the same. Its important to have beach communities back in time for the summer.”
A number of shore areas are looking into wood alternatives. Ray Rossi of nj1015.com said that nothing looks and feels like real wood for a boardwalk. A portion of the Belmar boardwalk had been reconstructed with Trex, composed of wood and plastic fibers.
“You may as well be walking on a pancake griddle,” Rossi commented, according to nj1015.com. Approximately 55 percent of voters supported an alternative to wood for reconstruction of Jersey Shore boardwalks in a station’s poll.
Meanwhile, Belmar is continuing its “Buy a Board” promotion to get more people involved in the community’s boardwalk reconstruction. CBS Philly reported that donations are going from $25 to $5,000, and names of contributors can be listed at a beach entrance.