Seaside boardwalk fire: One year later
Talk about adding insult to injury. Exactly one year ago, after the boardwalk in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park had been rebuilt from Superstorm Sandy damage, a huge fire destroyed a three-block section of it, displacing more than 50 shop and store owners.
The charred boardwalk has again been rebuilt, but the stores and shops have not.
So why has the process been delayed?
"This is privately owned," said Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers. "You have multiple partners, they've got to get to an agreement as to what they want to do in a permanent nature."
Just in the one block, remember it was three blocks that (were) affected, the one block that is in Seaside Heights, I think you can have as many as 15 different partners within this one block. You know how difficult it is when you and your wife are discussing something to come to an agreement? Well now, you've got 15 different opinions as to what has to go back or should go back."
When final plans are in place, Akers believes the process will move quickly.
"Once we get the plans of what they're going to rebuild, we'll certainly go through the permitting process, the approval process with the planning board, and we'll make sure everything is built to code," he said. "Hopefully the entire area will be rebuilt by next summer. For what they have to rebuild there, depending on what's submitted to us, it's certainly reasonable that they can do it."
Akers said the destruction caused by Sandy and the fire has certainly been tragic, but now it's an opportunity to perhaps do things differently.
"I would hope that they would be creative within this footprint," he said. "You know, we don't need another pizza shop and we don't need another t-shirt stand. All we need is something new, refreshing. They have an opportunity to do something new, something that will take your breath away, and I hope they use that to their advantage."