TOMS RIVER – In response to a history of drug use and other crimes, the Township Council made the first steps in acquiring the Red Carpet Inn on West Water Street to shut it down.
There were 15 arrests there in October, when the town’s Quality of Life Task Force raided the property. The task force is made up of a mix of police, fire, and code enforcement officials. There are terrible online reviews of the hotel written by customers who didn’t know what they were getting into.
“That place has been a problem for years,” Mayor Thomas Kelaher said.
There’s a case in Toms River Municipal Court that could impose a one-year shutdown on it, which would do so much financial damage that the hotel would probably shut down permanently, he said.
The property could be condemned, but the process would go a lot quicker if the owners negotiate with the township, he said.
The demolishing of the hotel would dovetail into the downtown redevelopment project that is being planned. This includes making the downtown area resistant to flooding, expanding parks, and making a walkable neighborhood with floor-level shops topped with housing.
Two ordinances were introduced at the most recent Township Council meeting. The first one authorized the acquisition of the property by purchase or eminent domain. The other appropriated $4.8 million for the purchase, of which $4.56 million would be bonded. The ordinances were unanimously approved by the council.
Councilman Maurice Hill said that the Inn had been the source of 750 police calls over the past two years. He detailed the long process it’s been to plan the redevelopment of that area and the steps that led to this decision, thanking township planner David Roberts and the administration for their efforts.
During the public portion of the meeting, a few residents spoke in support of the move.
Ortley Beach resident Paul Jeffrey said he would like the town to also take over the former Surf Club and turn it into a public beach.
Chris Doyle, who owns Apex United in the downtown area, said the loss of a big ratable is unfortunate, but “it will put other hotels on notice” to watch their clientele.
“It’s hard to bring employees to downtown when there’s a hotel that’s selling drugs and selling prostitution,” he said.