Long Branch officials are still deciding what they will do to to rebuild the city's boardwalk that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy last month.
Long Branch Administrator Howard Woolley stressed during Tuesday night's council meeting that whatever the future holds for the boardwalk, that the city's beaches will be open this summer.
"We are going to have beaches and we are going to have access to the beaches," Woolley said. "The boardwalk is another matter and we are looking at different ways to possibly rebuild it."
"We want to build something that has a 20-year useful life from what future storms may come," Woolley added. "The old method of construction is not necessarily what we are looking at. We are looking at possibly doing some other things."
Woolley said the city will weigh all its options before making a decision.
Long Branch Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Stanley Dzuiba said he has already spoken to FEMA representatives about the boardwalk
"They have different groups coming, one that’s in charge of debris and one that’s got the beachfront," Dzuiba said. "They are coming back later this week or next week to walk the boardwalk with us."
City Attorney James Aaron said the future of the boardwalk will likely be determined by what FEMA and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recommend should be built there.
"The city may have an advantage over some other municipalities whose boardwalk wasn’t constructed the same way or the city may be told 'look you can’t do it that way'," Aaron said. "Or Long Branch may be delayed in virtue of having to get new engineering specs and get those approved by FEMA and the DEP."
Long Branch Chief Financial Officer Ron Mehlhorn said there is a state provision that could help the city build a new boardwalk at a cheaper price.
"If a major capital improvement is necessary as a consequence of Hurricane Sandy, the emergency provision allows the immediate expenditure of funds by passage of a bond ordinance that spreads the funds over the life of the improvement," Mehlhorn said. "The boardwalk is at least a 20-year improvement."
Mehlhorn said if the city uses this procedure, the down payment for the project would be waived. Municipalities are usually required to put 5 percent of the project down in budget the budget. So, for a $10 million project, the city would be required to budget $500,000.
"If you think you’re going to proceed with the boardwalk, I would say you should take advantage of this provision," Mehlhorn said.
He said it could simply be passed as a resolution at future council meeting if the council wishes to do so.