Down the Shore
Checking in on the state’s hardest-hit beach towns.
No other boardwalk suffered as much devastation as Ortley’s. Both the decking and piling had to be replaced (the walkway won’t be accessible till mid-June), and the renovation of Ocean Terrace, the beach’s roadway, will cost an estimated $4 million. Two lifeguard stations were also destroyed. Though $1.9 million has been allocated for the new boardwalk, only a three-block section of the beach will reopen this summer. Bathroom trailers have been rented for the season.
A third of the macadam beach walk was reduced to rubble and scattered about town. It was fixed in time for Memorial Day, and a food truck is standing in for the demolished concession stand. A sifting program replaced seven feet of missing sand, and despite some anti-dune sentiment—homeowners arguing that they ruin their vistas—the state may rebuild its dune system (albeit at a compromised height).
524 homes in this small town incurred damage, ranging from minor flooding to houses being carried off their foundations; 50 of those are set to be demolished within the next few weeks. While the beach is currently accessible via sand walkways, there is a dispute over its future. Unless the borough receives permission from every beachfront property owner, neither the Army Corps’s beach-renovation project nor Mantoloking’s sandbagging solution (which involves car-size sand-and-gravel-filled bags buried in the dunes) can proceed.
The boardwalk was washed away, and its four pavilions, which had previously housed bathrooms and concessionaires, were battered. The town replaced the now 1.3-mile boardwalk with $8 million in composite decking. And rather than rebuild a dune system, it plans to construct a nearly five-foot-tall bulkhead covered in sand by 2014.
How Midway Emerged Mostly Unscathed
First, and most important, the town’s shorefront properties were built far enough inland (about 50 feet farther back than adjacent towns) that flooding wasn’t an issue. Second, zigzag-patterned dune fencing prevented sand from bombarding nearby buildings, while long-rooted, anchoring vegetation allowed the dunes to absorb the brunt of the tidal surge. “We lost about 50 feet of sand,” says Dominick Solazzo, vice-president of the Midway Beach Condominium Association, which is responsible for dune maintenance. “But we still have more dunes now than most municipalities did before Sandy.”
Fear Not, Nudists
Gunnison’s doing just fine.
The National Park Service’s recent decision to enforce New York State’s ban on public nudity, a ruling specifically aimed at Fire Island’s clothing-optional Lighthouse Beach, means the tri-state area’s nudists are left with just one option for disrobing en masse: Sandy Hook’s half-mile-long Gunnison Beach. It reopened earlier this month with limited amenities (no snack bar); Seastreak, departing from Pier 11 two to three times a day, gets you there in an hour.
Seaside Heights Springs Back
It lost a lot—including two roller coasters and a Ferris wheel—but the shore town is once again beating the beat.
Seaside Heights’ sixteen-block boardwalk, which was nearing its centennial when Sandy hit, had to be completely rebuilt—at a cost of $4 million. The town hopes to participate in the Army Corps of Engineers’ beach-nourishment project, which’ll see millions of cubic yards of pumped-in sand widening the shoreline berms. Because of persistent rumors that the surf is dangerous, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection took extra measures (including using side-scan sonar to scour the ocean floor for debris) to ensure the water was swimmable by May 24.
FunTown Amusement Pier
Given that only four rides and 20 percent of the FunTown pier survived Sandy, the beachside playground won’t reopen until next summer. The Looping Coaster and the Ferris wheel collapsed into the surf and had to be scrapped. (After falling 30 feet, the wheel, which had cracked, was cut apart five weeks ago and removed piecemeal.) When the pier is fully operational, though, it will feel notably larger: Its owner has applied for an expansion that would add up to 200 feet of decking and pilings.
The massive Jet Star roller coaster, blown into the ocean when roughly a third of FunTown’s neighboring Casino Pier collapsed, became a macabre tourist attraction after Sandy. Though some believed the ride should remain in the surf, a dredging outfit was hired a few weeks ago to remove it. The amusement park opened over Memorial Day; a new thrill ride, defiantly dubbed the Super Storm, will debut later this summer.
Originally built in 1910 and housed in Casino Pier’s arcade, Seaside’s historic carousel was one of only two such wooden amusements remaining in the country. The carousel’s electrical panels were destroyed in the storm but inspected and replaced last week. It’s already up and running.
The series finale of MTV’s Jersey Shore aired just weeks after Sandy leveled Snooki & Co.’s Seaside playground, but their haunts quickly recovered. The shore house needed scant repairs and has since been rented out to GTL adherents, while the cast’s other home away from home—Karma—reopened in March. The Shore Store, which suffered extreme damage (including a buckled floor), reopened in May. To generate extra income, owner Danny Merk has been organizing tours of the cast’s house. (For those interested in partaking, just show up at 1209 Ocean Terrace, between 10 and 11 a.m. and 8 to 9 p.m.; tours are $10). “We walk through the house and end at the store,” he says. “It’s like a Universal Studios tour.”
Under the (Modular) Boardwalk
A look at Spring Lake’s snazzy new $4 million pathway.
The renovated boardwalk is equipped with metal stanchions, designed to break apart into sixteen-foot sections. If a tidal surge hits only one section of the boardwalk, the plastic screws that hold the stanchions in place will snap apart, freeing that piece from the rest. Post-storm, it would just be refitted like a puzzle.
The concrete pilings were the only part of the two-mile boardwalk to survive Sandy’s rage. Of the 120 that remained, fewer than a dozen had to be fully replaced.
Instead of traditional wooden planks, the town installed TimberTech composite decking (made of wood flour and plastic): look-alike boards believed to be more durable than natural wood. Below, pressure-treated lumber prevents the boardwalk from bouncing under heavy foot-and-vehicle traffic.