TOMS RIVER – How much is the Surf Club worth?
That’s the question that is halting the purchase of Joey Harrison’s Surf Club at 1900 Ocean Avenue in Ortley Beach. The former nightclub was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy and the owner had decided to sell the property – but how much and to who remains unanswered.
There have been discussions to sell the land in the past, to either the town or a developer.
One developer would want to close Ocean Avenue to build a condo complex right over it. Township officials didn’t like that plan.
Toms River has plans for the property, too. They would extend the boardwalk, have a public beach, and features like a gazebo to make it an attractive wedding destination. Between the existing parking lot, and more that would be added, there could be 100 spots, Mayor Thomas Kelaher said.
The State’s Blue Acres program has offered the property owner, Joseph Barcellona Sr., $6 million for the building that the club is on, Kelaher said. Green Acres would buy the parking lot across the street. Blue Acres is a program for flood-prone land and Green Acres provides funds for land conservation.
However, Barcellona has stated that the property is worth $10 million.
At a recent Township Council meeting, Toni Tomarazzo, on behalf of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association, asked if the town would be able to put up more money if a private developer outbid the state.
“We are stewards of one of the most valuable assets,” she said. “This is something we could never get again.”
Ortley resident Pat Klaslo mentioned how much money Ortley residents have contributed in open space taxes and no land has ever been purchased for open space there.
Business administrator Don Guardian said the assessed value will be offered by the state. The township will only pay what it takes to maintain the property, or improve it with boardwalk or whatever other recreation is going there.
The town is already planning to put millions into the improvements, it might not be prudent to put more into the purchase price, Kelaher said.
The club’s liquor license was recently sold to BJ’s Brewhouse, the restaurant being built on the Ocean County Mall property.