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Talks on Municipal Purchase of Surf Club Property Stalled

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The former Joey Harrison's Surf Club in Ortley Beach, July 2018. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club in Ortley Beach, July 2018. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A plan for Toms River to purchase the former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club property in Ortley Beach for use as a public beach and recreation area has hit a snag over price.

Toms River Township Administrator Don Guardian said Tuesday night that there have not been any new developments recently, and that the would-be deal is stalled over what it would cost the township, with help from the state, to buy the valuable oceanfront land.

Guardian said the property was appraised at a market value of $6.3 million, with the state recently agreeing to increase that figure to an even $7 million. Numerous state regulations govern the purchase of private properties by public agencies, with little latitude given to pay what an appraiser would consider above-value. Toms River is hoping funding from the state’s Green Acres or Blue Acres program could be utilized to turn the former nightclub property – destroyed in Superstorm Sandy – into a public beach, expanded boardwalk and more parking for beachgoers. Ortley Beach residents have heavily lobbied for the township to make the purchase, especially in light of multi-million dollar purchases in North Dover and western portions of the township in recent years.

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Guardian has previously said that an attorney representing the Barcelona family, which owns the Surf Club property, had been trying to up the price of the land. The $7 million figure, however, appears to be the highest price on the table.

“That is the final offer and they asked for the owners to proceed,” Guardian said.