The complete letter is below:
I hope you and your family are having an enjoyable and safe summer. After Sandy and the rough winter we had, our community certainly deserves to have a long summer filled with fun. We have come so far, and should be proud of what we have accomplished together so I want to thank everyone for pulling together as strongly as we have since Sandy.
Unfortunately, we still have friends and neighbors that are displaced from their homes, so if you have not had an opportunity to donate, you can still help by making a contribution at our website, www.belmar.com. Every dollar contributed goes directly to help a family in need. I can assure you we will keep working until every family in Belmar is back in their own home.
From the day of the storm until now, the borough has been working every day to not only get people back in their homes and make sure businesses get up and running again, but also to make sure the look and feel of our beloved Belmar returns as much as possible to what it was before the storm. Working together we have made significant strides, but we still have much work to do to fully restore our town and provide a long-lasting legacy for our children.
I would like to take a few minutes of your time to update you on what we have focused on since Sandy and the next steps we intend to take to continue moving Belmar forward. Over the course of our daily lives I have the good fortune to run into many of you and discuss the borough’s future face to face, while others attend council meetings, call the borough or e-mail me directly. I appreciate that direct feedback and want you to know the Borough Council and I all take it under strict consideration every step of the way. These next weeks and months will be pivotal for the long-term future of Belmar and the potential for misinformation can only serve as a setback so I appreciate your taking the time to allow me to lay out the next steps we intend to take in Belmar’s post-Sandy recovery.
The Belmar Boardwalk recovery project was the first post-storm project in the state. We chose that project not only because it is part of the character of our town but also because of its importance to Belmar’s 140 small businesses that depend on tourism.
Once we made the decision to move forward and prioritize the Boardwalk, we were able to capitalize on our partnership with FEMA and the overwhelming support of the public at large through the buy-a-board campaign, allowing us to rebuild using less than $400,000 in funding from the Beach Utility and $0 from Belmar property taxpayers. Over $9,600,000 from FEMA and $727,000 from the buy-a-board campaign.
By restoring the Boardwalk in time for the summer we were able to speed up the borough’s recovery as a whole both symbolically and financially. The aggressive nature of that project and the expedited timetable required to get it done were significant challenges, but we met, and even exceeded, those goals. We took great pride in the fact that we were able to marshal local, state and federal resources and the result of all of us working together was a model effort praised by local, state and county officials, both Democrat and Republican.
The financial stability provided as a result of efficient planning and near unanimous cooperation throughout the borough on the Boardwalk recovery project has put us into position to move on to the next step in our recovery . . . the beachfront pavilions.
Like the boardwalk, the pavilions are a part of the character of our town. It is important that they are rebuilt, and improved where possible. We have been very careful throughout this entire rebuilding process to make sure your voice has been our driving force and, because of the feedback we have heard from residents like you, we have scaled back the original plans and are now only moving forward with the Taylor Pavilion and the 10th Ave Pavilion.
These two pavilions are vitally important to our community symbolically, financially and for public safety purposes, and their reconstruction will not present us with a financial burden.
The old Taylor Pavilion held many community events, and the new Taylor Pavilion will be able to accommodate even more. Public forums, elementary school events, senior events, Boy & Girl Scouts functions and so many others will always have a home in Belmar and the reconstructed Taylor Pavilion will serve as that home. The 10th Ave Pavilion will house our public safety entities that are necessary to providing a safe environment for families on the beachfront. Both buildings will be paid for and financed through federal or state grants along with beach badge revenues. Like the Boardwalk project, no property taxes will be used to build these two pavilions. We take pride in not raising Belmar resident’s property taxes over the past three years and will work hard to ensure a fourth consecutive year with the same outcome.
There are a few very important items I want you to know about the proposed pavilions;
1) Zero property tax dollars will be used to build them;
2) The pavilions are designed for the residents of Belmar and future generations as well;
3) There is a great deal of misinformation and rumor regarding these buildings. While they will most certainly be built to present day standards and flood elevations, the top of the building heights are only approximately 10’ – 14’ higher than those that Sandy took from us. The new designs are not the overwhelmingly tall structures that a certain element in town has claimed.
I want to thank all nine members of the Belmar Beachfront Advisory Committee including Councilman Brian Magovern, Ed Windas, Suzanne Anan, William Young, Merry Brennan, John Hutchinson, William Luddecke, Judy Rokoszak and Mark Fitzgerald. They all worked tirelessly since January and held eight public meetings that included architects, engineers, and residents of Belmar.
I can say for sure that if you like the new boardwalk, you are going to love the new pavilions. Check out the new designs at www.belmar.comand let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for everything you have done as a community. Belmar truly is a great place to live, and I am honored to be your mayor. Thank you and enjoy the rest of your summer,
Matthew J. Doherty