Toms River officials confirmed at a township council meeting Tuesday night that they were actively negotiating a purchase of the former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club property in Ortley Beach, however the talks have recently stalled.
Ortley Beach residents have been calling on the township to make a rare open space purchase on the barrier island. Officials say they may be able to fund the purchase of the former restaurant and nightclub property at least partially with state grants. Numerous residents of Ortley Beach were on hand at Tuesday’s meeting to continue to push the council toward a sale.
“We have been in negotiations, and continue to be in negotiations, with the owner of that property,” said Councilman Brian Kubiel, though the process recently hit a snag.
“An attorney got in their ear, indicated the property is worth well more than what it is,” Kubiel said.
The former Surf Club property is assessed at $1,907,500, however its market value is likely worth significantly more, since the assessment does not include any structures (the club was washed away in Superstorm Sandy) and is zoned to allow residential development, such as a condominium complex.
Officials said they were serious about the purchase.
“We’re all for it, we’re just negotiating,” said Council President George Wittmann.
If the township were to buy the property and use it for oceanfront open space, preliminary plans call for an expanded boardwalk in front that would connect the two existing portions of boardwalk, as well as a potential recreation or community center.