Borough's Boardwalk Plans Stymied By Court Orders

Superior Court judge halts forwarding of boardwalk plans; mayor says those plans have changed anyway.

The Borough of Belmar is barred from letting any contracts, borrowing or spending any money to forward its boardwalk pavilion plans, a Superior Court Judge has ordered.

Judge Lawrence Lawson, who last week ruled on the trio of lawsuits brought by a citizens’ group, also issued orders preventing the borough from taking $375,000 down payment for the pavilion construction out of the town’s Beach Utility money or using any of its $485,000 flood insurance claim money to forward the pavilion construction plans.

Lawson also said the borough may not raise beach fees to pay for the construction and called for a Dec. 11 conference between the borough and the Let The Citizens Decide group, which brought the three lawsuits covered by Tuesday’s orders.

The orders are the enforcement action of the decision Lawson handed down last week, which put on hold two lawsuits brought by the group while another is being probed further.

Ken Pringle, former Belmar mayor and attorney representing the citizens’ group, said he was pleased but not surprised by the orders, dated Nov. 7, that his office received Tuesday.

Mayor Matt Doherty said the borough will comply with the judge’s orders but reiterated that it’s the borough’s intention to rescind the $7.1 million bond ordinance at the center of at least one lawsuit and replace it with another.

Doherty announced on Tuesday that the borough would scale back plans to for the proposed 5th Avenue pavilion and replace the former Taylor Pavilion with a single-story structure, not the proposed two-story building.

That would require a new bond ordinance, likely for less money, once the new construction plans are completed, Doherty has said.

Pringle said the citizens group would be watching what moves the borough takes in the coming months and possibly amend their complaints accordingly.

“We’ll have to see what the borough does when it introduces its new bond ordinance,’’ Pringle said. “And we’ll make a decision whether to amend our complaints to apply to the new situation, if necessary.’’

The tug-of-war between the Let the Citizens Decide group began when the borough revealed its redevelopment plans for the boardwalk, which originally included three, two-story pavilions, adding a rooftop mini-golf course and other amenities to a boardwalk that had not previously had them.

But public outcry nixed one of the pavilions slated to be built at 8th Avenue. And Tuesday Doherty said the 5th Avenue pavilion would also be scaled back from two stories to one.

But the citizens group had already filed a trio of lawsuits, challenging the borough’s decision to declare the boardwalk an area in need of redevelopment when it was largely rebuilt and the borough’s plan to pay for the new pavilions with the town’s beach utility fund and through higher beach fees.

Those are the matters before Lawson now, who last week put on hold two of the group’s lawsuits while calling for a sit-down between parties to hash out why the boardwalk area was declared an area in need of redevelopment in April. 

JOHN DILLMAR November 13, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Oh no two Daves? Let's get this correct. Belmar is using people's tax $$ to fend off a lawsuit filed by a special group who in turn will get this tried by a judge that tax payers foot the bill for also. Is there anything good anymore in this country?
Jools November 13, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Victory! Now hopefully the architects will redesign the new single story building to have the same timeless design as the building we lost. Plenty of open windows in the summer, porches front and back with chairs for people to enjoy, and wide doors and exterior stairways for families to use. Let's bring the old building back.
Joy DeSanctis November 14, 2013 at 09:30 AM
The mayor spent over $200,000 plus on architect and engineering fees for the original elaborate plans to build the pavilions (mini roof golf course, aquariums, retractable glass walls, etc., as if, Belmar's wallet held endless money. Does anyone else feel something is terribly wrong with the way Belmar is going about this. FEMA will now help pay to rebuild one-story replacement pavilions, the delay in receiving funds was always because the mayor insisted on two-stories and would not deviate to meet FEMA's requirements. Let's not have a repeat of the first Beach Advisory Committee where their tasks were mainly selecting colors and finishes and largely they were told the buildings must be two-stories. The Taylor pavilion should be family friendly, open and airy, with porches! For the mayor not to give credit to the Let the Citizens Decide Committee for preventing taxpayers from out of control debt; is simply ego related and speaks volumes about his inability to recognize his judgment in this area was wrong, over the top and not want the citizens wanted, likely all personal agenda. Contact the mayor and ask to be on a new Beach Advisory Committee, the more residents participating the better our voices will be heard
JOHN DILLMAR November 14, 2013 at 11:41 AM
The residents of Belmar are the problem. They keep electing these guys/ladies in and get the same results.. Stupid stupid . Maybe we will get back to sanity. Take care Belmar and thanks to the Let The Citizens Decide---The whole town, including the Dems, have to thank them --
Dame Bridgid November 18, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Rebuilding Taylor Pavilion similar to the original design is for the best. It would have been extremely difficult to use a banquet hall intended to seat over a hundred without interfering with the normal use of the boardwalk that already narrows in front of it. Imagine a wedding party attempting to dodge pedestrians, runners, & bicycles on Summer weekends! The sheer safety logistics of crossing from Silver Lake's gazebo to Taylor Pavilion for formal photos make me cringe. Or even worse, they would have had to block that entire section of the boardwalk off for an extended period or risk having wedding albums or videos that included runners, bicycles, or tourists in skimpy beach attire...Not a pretty picture. With such handicaps making it less than desirable, the upper floor could have become a rather expensive white elephant. Better to rebuild the more modest structure that we know was compatible at that spot.


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