Toms River Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill signed two documents on Thursday to bring possession of the former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club property in Ortley Beach under township ownership.
Hill signed two documents: the tripartite contract of sale to acquire the property, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU is a document that states that the township will assume management and use of the property once fully acquired.
In the near future, the memorandum will be supplemented by a more formal Management and Use Agreement that will spell out, in detail, the terms and conditions of the township’s post-acquisition management of the property. The document will govern several aspects of ownership, including the installation of various amenities such as the extension of the boardwalk, landscaping, restrooms, benches, and similar features. The township and state Department of Environmental Protection are still in negotiations over the Management and Use Agreement.
The township’s contribution toward the acquisition – $685,000 – will be financed through the sale of land near Cattus Island County Park and Ocean County College to the county, which is expected to be finalized this fall. All aspects of the Surf Club transaction are expected to be completed by the end of 2021. The remainder of the $7.3 million land buy will be funded through the state’s Blue Acres program.
“I’m incredibly proud that we have made this acquisition happen for the community,” said Councilwoman Maria Maruca. “I want to thank everyone involved for their efforts, especially the OBVTA. It’s taken many people and several steps but we are almost there, and the end result is one that was important to advocate for and will benefit all the residents for many years to come.”
The OBVTA – the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association – funded negotiations between the township and the Barcelona family, which owns the Surf Club property, on the sale. It is thought that this piece of land is among the last oceanfront properties that will ever become available to expand a public beach and boardwalk in New Jersey.
The agreement also calls for the township to acquire a parking lot across the street from the old entrance to the Surf Club, which will accommodate more than 100 additional cars, providing parking relief during the busy summer season.