BY BOB HOLT
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty says the boardwalk is a part of the town’s identity. But would that identity change if tourists sat under something other than the “board” walk?
While communities at the Jersey Shore that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy are making preparations to have their boardwalks rebuilt for summer, consideration is being given to replacing the wood with concrete or synthetic materials.
Tim Keating, director of Rainforest Relief, says durable synthetics are the best materials to use in rebuilding the boardwalks, according to an Associated Press report in the Huffington Post. It is already in use by Belmar, Spring Lake, and Point Pleasant Beach.
But Manasquan has paved its boardwalk with asphalt, yet Hurricane Sandy still destroyed about half of it. And in New York in 2011, Coney Island group Friends of the Boardwalk sued to stop a plan replacing boardwalk wood with plastic and concrete.
Either way, Five Jersey Shore towns are expecting to spend more than $50 million on boardwalk repairs in an effort to be ready for the 2013 tourist season, according to an Asbury Park Press story in USA Today.
Seaside Heights, whose roller coaster landed upright in the ocean after Sandy, had an original estimate of $13 million to rebuild its 16 blocks of boardwalk. Point Pleasant Beach expects boardwalk restoration costs to be about $2 million. Long Branch has approved $5 million, Asbury Park officials say their boardwalk will cost about $12 million.
Belmar has already approved $20 million in funding to rebuild their 1.3 miles of boardwalk. But the community is hoping to get extra help.
In an effort to let the people participate in the boardwalk rebuilding, Belmar has started a "Buy A Board" promotion. According to an Associated Press report on SF Gate, those who contribute will have their names and donations listed at one of the beach entrances.
Donations can start at $25 for "beach bums," and go to $5,000 for a "big kahuna" contribution.