A troubled motel along Ocean Avenue that was condemned and taken through eminent domain by Seaside Park will be demolished on an “aggressive” schedule, borough officials said.
The borough council adopted a resolution at its meeting last week that will follow a rapid timeline culminating in the razing of the Desert Palm Inn, which was acquired early last year following a contentious hearing before the planning board which found the property met the state’s criteria for redevelopment and condemnation.
Litigation has continued ever since the taking, focusing on the value of the property, however a municipality takes legal possession of a condemned parcel at the time it adopts an ordinance codifying the acquisition. The Desert Palm Inn had been owned by Shree Jyoti LLC, a company owned by Ramesh Kania, a physician based in Livingston who previously pleaded guilty in federal court to receiving kickbacks in a Medicare fraud scheme.
Nearly a year later, officials are fast-tracking the structure’s demolition.
“We have a rather aggressive timeline to get us from resolution to demolition,” said Borough Administrator Karen Kroon.
The bid solicitation announcement for the demolition was due to be published Friday. It would have been published sooner, however New Jersey state law requires such announcements to be published in legacy print newspapers, and the Asbury Park Press, the designated newspaper for Seaside Park, takes about a week to publish legal notices.
Kroon said bids will be submitted by interested contractors by Feb. 9, with a bid opening scheduled for Feb. 12, at which point the borough engineer and attorney will make a recommendation of award. A contract is expected to be awarded at the Feb. 15 meeting of the borough council with a notice to proceed by March 11. The successful contractor will have until May 24 – the start of Memorial Day weekend – to complete the demolition.
A consulting firm hired by the planning board to determine whether the motel property met condemnation criteria found that since 2017, there had been a staggering 863 visits by police to the property. The calls included “alarms, assaults, civil disputes, criminal mischief, deceased persons dead on arrival, disturbances, domestic disputes, drugs, vice, intoxicated persons, mental health cases, noise complaints, stolen vehicles, suicide attempts, thefts, threats, unattended deaths and verbal disputes,” planning consultant Kendra Lelie, of T&M Associates, said at the time of the hearing.
Lelie, at the time, also ran down a laundry list of various deficiencies and code violations she observed on a site visit to the Desert Palm in August. Among them included faulty wiring, the presence of mold, insecure sinks, sagging floors, broken windows, rot in floor surfaces, and pool or laundry chemicals left unattended outside.
Seaside Park officials have not decided what, exactly, will become of the property. One use under consideration is to use it as part of a “green parking” initiative for which the borough has received grant funding. The project would consist of numerous parking stalls equipped with electric vehicle charging stations, and canopies with solar panels on the rooftop to generate clean energy.