Belmar Council approved a plan Wednesday to replace two of the four beachfront pavilions destroyed by Hurricane Sandy that could be paid for with $7.1 million in bonds.
In August, the borough scrapped plans to also rebuild its 8th Avenue Pavilion, and the rooftop miniature golf course that came with it, due to public opposition to that portion of the redevelopment plan, according to The Star-Ledger.
However, a group of Belmar residents – calling themselves “Let The Citizens Decide” - argued that was not enough and that the new designs were everything from too big and too costly to worthy of a public vote, according to the newspaper.
In August, a group of residents criticizing the project and urging the council to instead have a public referendum on the plans were divided on the designs as presented in July.
The buildings as presented would add a watchtower, a banquet space and a rooftop mini-golf course as features that didn’t previously exist in the prior structures. Some residents have taken issue with the new height, and possible noise the features could create, and have circulated a petition.
The 10th Avenue Pavilion would grow to new heights with an observation tower. Though neighbors voiced some concern over the new skyline credit by the pavilion, others including local lifeguards and law enforcement praised the tower as a much needed public safety improvement. The tower would provide lifeguards, EMS and others a view up and down the beach to spot swimmers in distress, illicit activity or other concerns from higher ground.
The 10th Avenue Pavilion would have lifeguard and other storage on its beach level, with roll-up doors. The boardwalk or first floor would house 815 square feet for concessions, and rooms for a police substation, EMS with exam room, and lifeguard office.
The Taylor Pavilion is proposed with a second-floor room available for community events as a banquet room. The room will include a kitchen, bathroom and balcony, to accommodate 200 people within the 4300 square-foot room. The first-floor will have a 1,400 square-foot concession space, badge sales, seniors’ club storage, a women’s club kitchen, a coat room and lobby. Some members of the public were concerned over the possibility of private events creating noise in the late night, as well as garbage. Others public comments praised the opportunity for revenue a banquet space could create for borough rental income.
The rooftop of the 8th Avenue Pavilion was to also feature a mini-golf course, a new idea to the pavilion. Officials said they liked the idea after hearing concerns about a lack of activities for the beachfront and the inability to walk to the marina mini-golf course. On the lower level, four smaller and one large concession area would accommodate tenants. The largest space is 2,500 square feet.
Others, including Councilman Jim Bean, criticized the potential cost of the project. Mayor Matt Doherty said the project would likely be reimbursed by FEMA, 90 percent.