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Belmar Scales Back Pavilion Plans, Eliminating 8th Ave. Building from Beachfront

10th and Taylor pavilion plans move forward

Saying "We've heard the feedback" Belmar Matt Doherty announced that plans to rebuild the 8th Avenue Pavilion will not move forward at this time.

That leaves the beachfront pavilion plans for rebuilding the Taylor Pavilion and the 10th Avenue Pavilion. All of the Belmar pavilions were destroyed after Hurricane Sandy, and the borough is aiming to have new structures in place by Memorial Day 2014.

The scaled-back plans were met with heated discussion in a five-hour meeting of the Belmar Council Wednesday from the public, who presented a petition of more than 500 signatures under the group "Let the Citizens Decide" that is urging for a referendum vote.

The new design plans passed council vote, as did the introduction of a $7.1 million bond ordinance to pay for the construction. Councilman Jim Bean was the lone dissenting vote for both. The Republican councilman emphasized he felt other projects should be completed before pursuing the pavilion rebuild.

Currently Belmar's beachfront concessions are housed in trailers on the boardwalk, with boardwalk food, souvenir and beach attire shops each among the vendors housed in the temporary trailers. It was a solution to not having the pavilions for this season, which are hoped for completion next season. Doherty said that with two pavilions now not in the rebuild plans, the trailers could return for 2014 in areas except the Taylor and 10th Avenue pavilions.

Doherty praised the designs for the Taylor Pavilion, which would house more rental and banquet space than previously, allowing more groups and larger groups to rent the facility, he said. 

The 10th Avenue Pavilion would have one concession and mainly exist for public safety, with rooms for lifeguard, police, first aid and a watch tower.

The project would cost $7.5 million, with the proposed $7.1 million bond to pay for it, but Doherty is also predicting FEMA reimbursement and possible Community Development Block Grants would fund the construction. If Belmar isn't awarded that money, an option would be to raise beach badge prices, said the mayor.

The new scaled-back plans did not appease residents who were calling for a public vote, not a council decision, on the beachfront designs. "Let the Citizens Decide" grassroots group have been urging the borough to put the matter in the hands of voters at the polls in a referendum.

Former Belmar Mayor Ken Pringle presented the 500-signature petition and said there was a "reprehensible" lack of public input in the process.

"I think what’s reprehensible Mayor, is that for the first time in 23 years the citizens of Belmar have had to resort to initiate a petition to be heard on an issue as important as the one before you tonight,” Pringle said.

The mayor criticized flyers circulating around Belmar against the project as misleading and containing incorrect information. In the five hour meeting Doherty explained in depth what the parameters of the project will be and how it will be paid for under certain scenarios.

"The worst case scenario — say we don't get a dime from FEMA or CDBG money — is to raise beach badge prices," Doherty said. 

The plan as approved this week takes away the third building that was considered after months of meetings held by a beach restoration committee in the borough, led by Councilman Brian Magovern. Doherty said the committee heard the input of artists, planning board members, beachfront residents in what he said was a good representation of Belmar.

"We tried to get as varied an opinion as possible. And while they did an outstanding job, really, top notch and they worked with our engineer, we're not going to be able to move forward with what we had originally proposed," said the mayor.

But Doherty said he understood the community is not fully behind the original idea, which would have built a two story pavilion on 8th Avenue with a rooftop mini-golf course. 

"We're listening to residents, where they want us to go and where they don't want us to go," said Doherty.


kf August 10, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Why is it that they graciously went from 3 buildings to 2 buildings but still bonded for the same amount of money? Also, how do they expect to pay to replace the 2 remaining destroyed buildings?
First Rate August 10, 2013 at 08:09 AM
The Mayor and town council are controlled by local liberal business. Like most politicians, the Pols like the power and the business people like their pockets lined. There is little concern for the town's people.
The Gman August 10, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Since the 9th Ave bar was built at the town marina the environment has changed for the worst. Over developing this towns beach front, will only create crowded beaches from the day trippers. This is only beneficial to the local small business owners and not the residential home owners which of a greater majority. Let's focus on our school systems here in Belmar, which are horrible and make efforts to correct this issue for our children. This Mayor has an agenda that is not favorable to residential property owners.
charlie August 11, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Have to agree with gman about the oceanfront. On a nice day during the week the cars are parked half way to main street by noon. Belmar is the first beach exit on the parkway with the best badge prices. People now take their coolers to the beach and pass on the $6.00 hamburgers and $3.00 slices. Belmar has a few things going for it that makes it different from other shore towns, like; the marina, oceanfront and plenty of places to go out to eat. But for some reason Belmar can't shake it's, not so good, image. After the weekend my block has a good amount trash laying around. I think it's just feels too busy this year.

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