The former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club property will become a public beach and form an extension of the Ortley Beach boardwalk if plans that have apparently already been negotiated meet final approval by government officials, numerous people familiar with the talks have said.
The Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association had paid for a mediator to host negotiating sessions between Toms River Township and the Barcelona family, which owned and operated the former oceanfront nightclub for decades before it was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy. A small portion of an adjacent building still stands in its place.
Shorebeat has learned that while details of the negotiations remain confidential, the deal hinges on the involvement of Ocean County in the purchase. The county government is seeking an unspecified parcel of township-owned land, and if Toms River is willing to sell, the influx of funds from that sale will finance the local cost of the purchase of the Surf Club property.
The state has already agreed to fund $6.6 million, up from its initial offer to provide $6.3 million toward the purchase.
The OBVTA, which has lobbied heavily for the purchase of the park, is planning to gather its members to attend the pre-board work session meeting of the Ocean County freeholders this Wednesday. The board, however, holds its pre-board meetings in person on-site, and the meeting room holds about 25 people, with county officials taking up the majority of the seats. There is a chance the OBVTA members will remain outside the room simply as a show of support, said association Vice President Paul Jeffrey.
Supporters are hoping the board resolves at its meeting this week to place the item on the agenda for its regular meeting next Wednesday, when freeholders will actually vote on measures discussed at the work meeting.
Action by the county to purchase land from Toms River appears to be the final step in acquiring the Surf Club land, Jeffrey said, since his members were told a memorandum of understanding between the parties had been signed. The price has not been announced.
“The mediator cannot give us many details because it’s confidential,” Jeffrey said.
Toms River had offered $7 million for the property and the Barcelona family had sought $8.2 million. The mediator was hired when the two sides were at an impasse regarding the $1.2 million difference.
The OBVTA members are planning to attend Wednesday’s freeholder meeting, which takes place at the Ocean County Administration Building, 101 Hooper Avenue, Toms River. The meeting begins at 4 p.m.