OC Legislators join Toms River in battle over Joey Harrison’s Surf Club property
Once a Jersey Shore staple in the summertime, Joey Harrison's Surf Club saw its downfall due to damage sustained during and after Superstorm Sandy.
The beachfront club suffered significant damage from the 2012 storm and has yet to be purchased by a developer, leaving its future up in the air.
There have been continued conversations with the owners, Joe and Dolores Barcellona, where it not only seems unlikely the club would be rebuilt but if and when they would consider selling the property.
New Jersey 10th District (Ocean County) Senator Jim Holzapfel (R) and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin (R) and Dave Wolfe (R) are requesting the state of New Jersey utilize the Blue Acres Program to purchase the Joey Harrison’s Surf Club, a former nightclub in the Ortley Beach section of Toms River.
They believe Toms River should have the opportunity to purchase the land through the Blue Acres program which the 10th District introduced 20 years ago to dedicate funds to conserve flood-prone land.
“The structure was completely demolished in Superstorm Sandy and now the state has the unique opportunity to purchase this property and utilize the open space for the public,” Senator Holzapfel said in a statement. “As an original sponsor of this landmark legislation, it is programs such as this that not only benefit the community but preserve the beauty of our coastline.”
Original appraisals of the nightclub came in at $6.3-million but the seller’s attorney had a new appraisal and is seeking $8.3-million.
The 10th District Lawmakers said that since the current owner has increased the amount they are seeking for the property, there is not enough money to cover the purchase.
The legislators are requesting a larger amount from the Blue Acres Program, specifically an extra $1.3-million dollars.
“We have written to Governor Murphy on behalf of our residents who have contributed to this open space tax for years with little to no return on their investment," Assemblyman McGuckin said. "They (Toms River Township) are adamant about acquiring this land to revitalize the area, and we will fight to get the funding that is needed to restore our shore."
The 10th District Legislators have written to Governor Murphy to urge him to commit more than $8-million from the Blue Acres Program to cover the costs of the purchase.
“While we understand that this beachfront property is costly, the Surf Club has sat vacant for seven years with no real plans for development," Assemblyman Wolfe said.
Toms River Township is dedicating $2.3-million for improvements to the area, such as a new boardwalk, parking lot and demolition of the current structure.
"We've been interested in acquiring this property for some time," Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher tells WOBM News. "We have been negotiating with the owners and their attorney and have come to an impasse in what the Blue Acres Program and the township are willing to pay versus the demand from the owners."
Kelaher said he appreciates the assistance from the 10th District Legislators in helping purchase this piece of land.
"It may be the push that we need for the state to help close the gap between what the offer has been and what the demand has been," Kelaher said. "I hope they're successful in getting the state to close the gap and allow us to go forward and acquire the property."
Should things get purchased and a deal reached, the township will be looking to extend the boardwalk in Ortley Beach and add in some recreation facilities there as well as a gazebo.
"It would be a real asset to the community and something that residents can enjoy," Kelaher said.
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