The Toms River Township council is expected to vote Tuesday night on a measure that would see the municipal government purchase the coveted oceanfront property which once housed the famed Joey Harrison’s Surf Club.
An agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. and can normally be viewed virtually, shows an ordinance to fund the purchase of the property. It is enabled by one of 10 ordinance on the agenda for consideration, setting the scene for an unusually busy – and potentially controversy-filled – evening on tap for the governing body.
The ordinance, which was presented in short form on the agenda, calls for the township to sell a plethora of land parcels to Ocean County for $1,880,000. The funds derived from these parcels, which are located adjacent to Cattus Island County Park and buffering Ocean County College, are to be used toward the purchase of the Surf Club property. The state has committed $6.6 million toward the purchase of the property.
The $6.6 million would come from the state’s Blue Acres program, which preserves lands that are frequently subject to damaging floods. The council’s agenda for the meeting follows its ordinance authorizing the sale of mainland properties with a resolution supporting the state’s purchase of the Surf Club parcels. The $6.6 million and proceeds from the township’s land sale equal $8,480,000.
The specific properties the resolutions sets forth include:
- Block 1022, Lots 2.03 and 2.04
- Block 1026, Lots 27- 30
The properties represent the Surf Club parcels along the oceanfront where the nightclub, restaurant and condominiums once stood before being wiped away by Superstorm Sandy, as well as a parking lot across Ocean Avenue. Plans call for blocks of additional public beaches and more than 100 parking spaces for beachgoers to be added to Toms River’s parks system, though it has yet to be indicated how the state and local government will share the property since it is, presumably, being purchased with commingled funds.
The township council, as well as the Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill, has endorsed the purchase, save Councilman Dan Rodrick, who has stated the price for the land is too high – since the owners of the Surf Club were granted a tax appeal on the property – and that the owners should be subject to discipline since structures still on the land have not been torn down after nine years.
Tuesday night’s council meeting is expected to draw wide interest from across the township, especially Ortley Beach. The Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association provided, at its own expense, mediators to negotiate a price for the property.