TOMS RIVER – Ortley Beach residents resumed their plea for the township to buy Joey Harrison’s Surf Club, a former nightclub that was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy.
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.
Residents came out to a Township Council meeting to again urge the governing body to purchase the land.
Ortley doesn’t have a boardwalk, and has little in terms of recreation, Ortley resident Chet Przybylko said. Purchasing the land would solve that problem. Ortley Beach homeowners contribute a lot to the town in tax revenue, and the town should spend that money to reinvest in the area and buy that land.
And it’s not just regular property tax, Ortley residents said. The township also has an open space tax of 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
“We contribute a lot to the open space tax, but there’s none here,” Ortley resident Pat Klaslo said.
Councilwoman Maria Maruca is in favor of the town purchasing it, called this a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” The financial agreement can’t be reached, however.
Councilman Brian Kubiel said that there has been a lot of negotiation, and they were close to agreement. However, an attorney told the owner it was worth more. He said the town “won’t be held hostage” by the property owner who arbitrarily raised the price.
Toms River officials have expressed plans to 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.
The State’s Blue Acres program has offered the property owner, Joseph Barcellona Sr., $6 million for the building that the club is on, Mayor Thomas Kelaher has said in the past. 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.