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Long Branch Council Approves Boardwalk Improvements, Pier/Ferry Design

Council adopts two bond ordinances for projects

The city's oceanfront received major help from the Long Branch Council on Tuesday night.

The council unanimously adopted two bond ordinances that will fund and the design and engineering expenses for the city's .

The pier/ferry bond ordinance that will provide $1 million for design and engineering expenses for the project. The boardwalk bond ordinance will allocate $950,000 for improvements to the boardwalk between Morris Avenue and Brighton Avenue.

The city is looking to rebuild its amusement pier that burned down in 1987, and was deciding between three separate designs for the project. The Long Branch Council settled on a final design and opted for the "shaped" pier, which is a curved "L" shape, at its first meeting in December.

The pier would be located in Pier Village would have restaurants, entertainment venues, retail stores, amusements, and a ferry service to Manhattan, officials have said. The proposed pier and ferry platform would cost the city at least $100 million, but officials have said the pier would be a booming commercial center that ultimately pays for itself.

Some residents, such as Diana Multare and Vincent Lapore have asked the council closely examine the benefits of having a ferry service in Long Branch. Lapore said he has spoken to officials who have told him that ferry services operate in the red and do not pay for themselves.

Long Branch Business Administrator Howard Woolley has said the funding for the project is still "unknown" at this time, and that the city has not yet created a concrete plan for how it will finance it.

The boardwalk improvements include railing and decking replacement, repairs to paved areas, the installation of playground equipment on the beach at North Bath Avenue, the rehabilitation of the comfort station at North Bath Avenue and landscaping.

City Attorney James Aaron said the council could go out to bid for the project in March, 2012, and possibly finish the project before Memorial Day. If construction is not completed before Memorial Day, it would have to move into the fall of 2012.

Save Ocean Avenue Committee member Dennis Sherman thanked the council for passing the boardwalk ordinance without having a tremendous effect on taxpayers' wallets.

"It's not going to inflict any hardship on taxpayers," Sherman said.

The appropriations include a $421,000 grant from Green Acres for the project and a $421,000 loan from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP loan is zero interest and is repayable over 20 year according to Long Branch Chief Financial Officer Ron Mehlhorn.

The city is funding the remaining $107,400 of the project, according to ordinance.

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