TOMS RIVER – The central gazebo overlooking the Toms River at Huddy Park was knocked down due to weather, and will be replaced by spring, officials said.
Anyone driving over the bridge, or passing through downtown, likely saw the central gazebo in tatters. It had become such a mainstay that seeing it damaged was surprising and distressing.
The culprit appears to be the weather. It wasn’t a recent storm. Rather, it was a huge windstorm on August 3 that might have started the process for it to eventually fall.
A security guard was the first person to notice it, Township Engineer Robert Chankalian said. One of the beams had become twisted, presumably by the wind.
Following up on the tip, Chankalian inspected it with someone from the insurance company. If you weren’t close to it, you might not have noticed it.
There had been a boat show just before that, so the township scrolled through photos of the event online. In those photos, the gazebo’s beams were still in good shape. So, they surmised that it must have happened in that storm.
The gazebo had been off limits to the public after the damage had been noticed, he said. This was unfortunate because a lot of people like to get wedding photos there. It’s a landmark for the downtown area.
Then, the center eventually gave out. Once that happened, the township demolished the rest for safety reasons.
Huddy Park had been remodeled a few years ago. The gazebo had been upgraded then, but the framing of it was original, he said.
Officials are in the midst of receiving estimates for a new gazebo that would be built with metal posts and a wood top, he said. The contractor is one that the township has used before, and they have built similar structures that withstood Superstorm Sandy.
However, during the remodeling of the park, new plantings and the cement base was installed. The township doesn’t want to tear any of that out to put in the new gazebo, so they are trying to plan how to incorporate it all.
The goal is that the gazebo will be up by the spring, Chankalian said. It will join a new park amenity – a kayak launch will be built near the parking lot. This project is being completed before winter.
Toms River Business Administrator Louis Amoruso said the township has submitted an insurance claim. He believes that there will be no cost for the repair.