TOMS RIVER – The Township Council awarded a contract to demolish the Surf Club, making way for the land to become something to better the community.
Two Brothers Contracting Inc. was the lowest responsible bidder, and won the $212,000 contract, Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill said.
The nightclub was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy and has remained closed ever since. Ortley Beach residents have urged the township to purchase it and turn it into a recreational area. There has been talk about having a gazebo and boardwalk (without amusements). Between the existing parking lot, and more that would be added, there could be 100 spots. The property, located at 1900 Ocean Avenue in Ortley Beach, is one of the few ocean-front tracts of land on the market. A developer had been circling it in the past.
There was a debate between the owner and the buyer over how much value the beachfront property had. Ultimately, the sale price was $7.3 million.
Of this, $685,000 came from the township’s Open Space Trust Fund. This is a tax of 1.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation on all property in town. Recently, voters chose not to increase this tax.
Additionally, Toms River’s portion will be offset and is dependent upon Ocean County’s $1.88 million purchase of Township-owned land located next to Cattus Island Park and the Ocean County College, which was authorized by a 6-1 vote back in January.
The balance, $6.615 million, would come from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.
Mayor Hill has praised the purchase of this property every step of the way. He said it’s important to preserve this beachfront property and that he expects the demolition to be done by the end of the year.
In the past, the town had made an offer to the owner, but the owner thought it was worth more. This led to an impasse where the town offered one amount, and the owner counteroffered a higher amount. As one councilman said, the town “won’t be held hostage” by the property owner. At one point, it was reported that an appraisal of the property came in at $6.3 million but the seller’s appraisal was for $8.3 million.