Seaside Heights officials are rapidly moving to begin construction of a boardwalk-facing home for the borough’s historic Dentzel-Looff carousel that will also serve as a museum and meeting spot.
Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said Tuesday that plans to construct the building are before the state Department of Environmental Protection and the borough will vote Dec. 4 on a bond measure that will fund the construction of the building. The state must review the borough’s CAFRA (Coast Areas Facilities Review Act) application and then, once a design is chosen, work can begin.
“They deemed [the application] administratively complete, and now it’s going to the people who will actually do the review,” said Vaz, who is working alongside the mayor and council to determine what the physical building should look like.
A few renderings of potential designs have been made, but no final decisions have been made. Vaz was planning to meet Wednesday with an architect who will develop the design, which Vaz hopes to keep “simple and inexpensive.”
Vaz, who has traveled to different tourism conferences promoting Seaside Heights, said he has reviewed areas where carousels are kept in other towns that have preserved them and has even drawn some ideas from restaurants he’s visited in his travels. The borough council will have the final say.
The total cost of construction has yet to be determined. Seaside Heights council members are expected to vote on a $1 million bond issuance Dec. 4, and the state has pledged to match up to $750,000 in local funding. The museum will be built along the boardwalk at Carteret Avenue – land that was traded to the borough along with the carousel itself by Casino Pier in exchange for a plot of beachfront on which the pier expanded its amusement rides. The carousel is currently being restored and cleaned up by a professional carousel builder and will be operational once it is reassembled in its new home.
The building will not be ready for the summer of 2020, but visitors will likely be able to keep tabs on the project while strolling the boards.
“I believe it will be an active construction site this summer,” said Vaz. “To be able to have this open by summer 2021, we really need to think about getting shovels in the ground as soon as possible.”