The historic Dentzel-Looff Carousel will be in restoration for more than a year before it is ready to entertain the Shore’s young (and old) visitors again, but the building that will house it will be ready by this season.
The borough council on Wednesday appointed a firm to take on the carousel’s restoration, which will see the mechanical portion of the attraction restored and replaced, as well as its decking. The horse figures on which revelers ride are being stored at a borough Public Works facility along Bay Boulevard in a building that borough employees purpose-built.
The council passed a bond measure of $1.5 million authorizing the carousel’s refurbishment. The state has pledged up to $750,000 in historic preservation aid to fund the effort, which is a matching grant, meaning Trenton will match the local government’s share dollar-for-dollar. Carousels and Carvings, of Ohio, will complete the restoration, which could run close to $1 million. The company, which took the carousel apart for restoration under a previous contract, is virtually the only one of its kind in the United States, and currently has a backlog of work.
Christopher Vaz, the borough administrator, said Carousels and Carvings estimates that they can begin work on the ride in the third quarter of 2021, meaning – at the earliest – it will be returned in spring 2022.
Progress is continuing briskly on the building that will house the carousel. Located between Carteret and Sampson avenues on the boardwalk, the building will also feature a boardwalk museum and could later be expanded in order to generate future revenue.
Over the summer, Seaside Heights awarded $2,597,000 contract to construction firm Epic Management, to build the carousel’s home, which will also feature a boardwalk museum run by the newly-formed Seaside Heights Historical Society. Epic has previous built the $75 million RWJBarnabas Athletic Health Performance Center in Piscataway and the School of Communication building at Montclair State University.
“The building is going to be done well before the carousel is finished,” said Vaz. “The steel was delivered this week and they’re putting the steel up for the carousel building.”
The building will be enclosed by spring, Vaz said.
“Then we will be able to get in there and do some of the work ourselves, like the electric,” he added.
Mayor Anthony Vaz said the borough had hoped the carousel could return to the boardwalk sometime in 2021, but the lack of companies that perform such extreme niche work largely puts the borough at the mercy of its contractor.
“The earliest we can assume having the carousel back would be 2022 for a grand opening,” Vaz said.
The borough’s newly-formed Seaside Heights Historical Society is expected to advocate for additional grand funding and host fundraisers to pay for the restoration effort.