By Neil Schulman
Sea Bright — When it rebuilds, the borough is considering taking several of the buildings along the beachfront destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, and combining them into one.
However, members of the Sea Bright Library Committee were upset when they heard at Tuesday’s Borough Council meeting that the library might become part of the beach pavilion. Designer Robert Adler reviewed the current plans for the beachfront, saying that nothing left of the beach facilities is salvageable. “FEMA has declared all of the buildings a total loss – some of them are not even there” anymore, Adler said. Rather than rebuilding separate storage space, bathrooms and other facilities, Adler said that the borough is considering merging them into one structure. He said that, using the insurance funds and FEMA aid, they would be able to make a better, bigger structure due to economy of scale. The first floor would have bathrooms and outdoor showers, accessible from the boardwalk. It would also have the beach badge sale area, and a “significant size garage,” for storing all terrain vehicles and other equipment needed to patrol and maintain the beach. The second floor would have a first aid training area, a lifeguard platform for easy access to the beach, and a multi-purpose room. While the exact plans are still being designed, Adler said the building would have a historic look, but would be made with “the latest and greatest” techniques to resist future floods and storms. It would also be completely ADA compliant. More controversially, Adler said that the borough library could be put on the second floor if needed. “Of all the buildings we lost, one of the most important was the library,” he said. The potential replacement would have an oceanfront view and space for computers and to sit and read, he said. Adler made his presentation just minutes after Liz Von Ziegesar, chair of the Sea Bright Library Committee, had asked council to work with them on getting the library restored to its building as soon as possible. Von Ziegesar and other committee members present were not happy hearing that council was considering moving the library — and hadn’t consulted with them first. A beach pavilion has a very different feel than a community library, she said. “That’s not a library. That’s a standing room for tourists.” Council members said that space in the pavilion was only one possibility. While members of the library committee say the library appears to be in restorable condition, Councilman Read Murphy said that the borough is waiting on engineers’ analysis to see how much would need to be rebuilt. The back of the library, which faces the ocean, was damaged in the storm, and the roof was lifted off from the winds. Murphy said until they hear from engineers, they don’t know how to proceed. Von Ziegesar also said that Councilman Marc Leckstein, a member of the library committee, should have told them what was happening. Leckstein said that if the library can’t be rebuilt where it is, it would still be respected. “If the library has to go… we’re talking about putting it up in a room that overlooks the ocean,” he said. “Liz, I’m not a traitor. Let’s not go there.” Council has not made any final decisions on the beach pavilion. They will review the plans they have and bring the matter up at a future meeting. Public works garage donated Another building used by the borough that was destroyed by Sandy was the Public Works storage building. Acting Borough Administrator Joseph Verruni said that since the space which the borough leased has been demolished, the public works department has been unable to store vehicles and other equipment indoors. However, a company has offered put something up for the borough, providing the building at no cost. “The company Crane Group International has said they would like to donate to us,” Verruni said. The borough is proposing a three-bay garage on River Road. Verruni said that Sea Bright would need to pay for some limited engineering, and to get utilities hooked up, but those costs would be relatively small. Mailboxes and buses There is currently nowhere in Sea Bright to mail a letter — and officials have been told that there are no plans to install a mailbox. “I met today with the Rumson postmaster, and his exact words were absolutely not,” Murphy said. The Rumson office handles mail for the borough. Several residents have said that it is difficult to send out letters, especially because there is currently work on the Rumson-Sea Bright bridge, which means getting to the post office is a major detour. Murphy said the post office’s suggestion — putting outgoing mail in your personal mailbox with the flag up — is not practical, especially for residents who don’t have that sort of box. Murphy said that the borough would see if they can bring political pressure onto the post office. Several residents said that mail delivery has been poor. “I’m missing rent checks, credit card bills… it’s been a real problem for me and my business,” one resident told council. Murphy said that he himself has missed four checks. Another amenity that Sea Bright currently lacks is a bus stop shelter, another casualty of the storm. Officials said that public works has held off on putting up a temporary shelter because NJ Transit has said it will soon install one.