By Adam Schneider
Today is Thursday February 7, 2013 and this is Mayor Adam Schneider. Day and date was how I began my code red messages during the storm. Since everywhere I go people are still talking about Sandy, now is the time for a citywide update.
Homeowners and the city are working daily to restore damaged property. Many people are still living in the upstairs half of their house, there’s debris on the streets in some neighborhoods, the boardwalk won’t be back this summer, and Manahasset Park needs significant work. Changing flood elevations, insurance issues, and financial hardships are just some of the problems for public and private property.
The city has organized an informational workshop for Saturday February 16 at 8 a.m. at Fire headquarters on Union Ave to try to help people sort through some of the various issues. We’re anticipating a crowd, so please call 732-571-5640 and get your name on the list if you plan to attend. Our goal is to provide individualized advice so there will be a limit as to how many people we can serve that morning. We’ll repeat the event if necessary. The building department, tax assessor, OEM, zoning officer and other city officials will be there to offer advice. You don’t have to wait until the 16th if you need help. Call any of those departments at any time. Information is also available on the city website.
We’re working on plans to build a new boardwalk. Several issues need addressing before any rebuilding can take place. The bluff from Pier Village south to Brighton Avenue was severely damaged and sections of the old boardwalk were undermined, possibly including the West End snack bar. We’re working with FEMA to cover most of the costs of the design to restore the bluff and build a new walkway that will survive the equivalent of another Sandy. The boardwalk in Pier Village survived because of design and height. That’s the goal for the rest of the boardwalk.
Right now we don’t know how long the planning and design will take. Once completed FEMA has to review our work, and then there may have to be CAFRA approval. We’ve wanted to build a new bigger and better boardwalk for years and we intend to do it right. I’ll keep you posted as work proceeds.
Picking up debris has resumed. We stopped in November because that was the FEMA deadline, but now recognizing that the problem has persisted, FEMA has authorized the money and we are picking up again. I don’t know how long DPW will continue collecting, but we’ll do as much as we can.
As for my friends at JCPL, they claim to have learned their lesson and will communicate better during the next state of emergency. I don’t believe them. I met with Mark Jones, a JCPL vice president in charge of governmental relations, on December 19. I requested a copy of JCPL’s emergency management plan for Long Branch and a meeting with their emergency management coordinator. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask for and won’t cost any money. I emailed Mr. Jones on January 9 and again on February 4. So far there’s been no response from our favorite utility. You would think I asked them to spend millions of dollars upgrading their antiquated equipment.
The city is looking to improve our Sandy performance. We’re upgrading our Code Red contract to allow unlimited calls year round, and are working to utilize Facebook on a regular basis.
The experience has left an indelible memory on the entire state. Right now people want answers so they can rebuild. We are doing our best to help.