With 100 days since the devastating hurricane, Gov. Chris Christie’s visit to Sea Girt focused on what he called another rebuilding success — the reconstruction of the borough’s boardwalk.
The visit was to celebrate another town’s big step in rebuilding their shorefront, and the governor used the opportunity to predict summer will be “open for business” on the Jersey Shore.
“It’s been a hundred days now, they are wondering, is the Shore going to be back for the summer, and there are those who don’t think so. We know that is not true,” Christie said.
The governor toured Sea Girt’s beach and now-under construction boardwalk, then praised that another town was rebuilding “responsibly” and with “future generations in mind.”
Getting people back in homes and businesses open is a long process but Community Development Block Grants should help tremendously, Christie said.
Grants Should Help Relieve Pressure on Homeowners
The financial turmoil Hurricane Sandy has created for property owners grappling with renovation and insurance of homes could be relieved somewhat by grants. The grants would be available to all property owners on the New Jersey coastline affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Community Development Block Grants may begin to be awarded for Hurricane Sandy damaged projects by the end of February, Christie said, but further specifics about the program are in development. The department of Housing and Urban Development oversees the CDBG program.
The grants would be used to repair damage, mitigate destruction and get homes updated with new post-Sandy standards, Christie said.
"The purpose is to get people back in their homes, and to not saddle them with more debt," said the governor. "We don’t need to put more pressure on people, and this is a way to do that."
Christie heralded the grants as a way individual properties could return to normalcy and possibly hamper abandonment of damaded property.
"We need to get people back in their homes, and businesses to start to reopen, so the region can start beating again and return to normalcy," he said.
Focus on Sea Girt, Dunes
As he did in Bradley Beach last month, when that town’s dune reconstruction project was underway, in Sea Girt today the governor again emphasized the importance of dunes in protecting natural resources, tourism, homes and the legacy of the Jersey Shore.
Is there a blanket height authorities should be requiring dunes be statewide in order to offer the best protection? Christie said no.
“It will vary from town to town, depending on how close things are to the beach, are their homes right on the beach?” Christie said. “I don’t think there’s a one size fits all. The way it looks in Bay Head or Mantoloking is significantly different than how it looks here or in Bradley Beach.”
Communities can successfully balance tourism and environmental protection, geared to their town specifics.
“Obviously we don’t want a homogenized Jersey Shore,” Christie said.
People want to know their homes, the community, landmarks and way of life will be rebuilt, he said, and are not as invested in how high dunes will be but must recognize the dunes' importance.
"What will effect tourism is when the beach is wiped out every year, the town is wiped out every year, and people don’t want to come back," Christie said. "Their beach house will be there, their favorite restaurant will be there, the place the rent beach cruisers from will be there next year...The size of the dunes won’t matter."