Future Uncertain For Concrete Pavilion

August 4, 2020

first_imgBy Joseph SapiaHIGHLANDS – What will happen to the controversial Super Storm Sandy memorial sitting on borough property between Sandy Hook Bay and the Robert D. Wilson Memorial Community Center?The 1,104-square-foot gazebo’s basic history: It was constructed by the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, a trade group, with borough permission in the fall; became controversial because of its, well, concrete-y look – and dubbed “Shorehenge” by some, because it kind of appears as a modern-day Stonehenge; and, in December, the state Department of Environmental Protection informed the town the project needed an OK, which it never got, through the state Coastal Area Facilities Review Act.Based on much discussion at the Jan. 20 Borough Council meeting, no one seems to be blaming the Iowa-based Tilt-Up for putting up the monument – constructed with donated goods and equipment valued at $250,000, along with donated labor.Perhaps there will be answers to its future sooner than later.At the Jan. 20 meeting, Council President Carolyn Broullon concluded the borough, as the monument’s responsible party, will look into the cost to keep the monument in place – $3,000 for a CAFRA permit for starters – and the cost to take it down – $15,000 to $25,000 for starters, said Councilman Doug Card.“Both things will be researched,” Broullon said.Some of this information may be ready for the next council meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 3. But Borough Attorney Bruce Padulla said the matter could wind up in litigation.As for residents, some are for the concrete pavilion, some are against it.“I think it’s ugly,” said Colleen Kriessler, 50. “It doesn’t belong there, it takes away from the appeal of the beach, I guess.”Wallace Hartsgrove, 72, and Kerry Gowan, 53, thought the value of the structure could have been better applied into helping the borough as it continues to rebuild from the devastation of the October 2012 Sandy.Hartsgrove, whose house was destroyed, said the money should have been used to help people in town, especially those whose houses had been affected by Super Storm Sandy. “There’s a lot of stuff they could do in this town,” he said.Gowan’s house also was damaged. She said she was thankful for the thought behind the gift of the monument, but, “I just think that money could have been used somewhere else, helping the town.”In a written statement, Diane Kropfl and her husband, Bill Sabanski, said, “It is now the responsibility of the borough to fulfill the obligation on its part in consideration of the generous donation provided to our community, to ensure the continued existence of this structure.”The couple is “willing to make a donation to a public fund to offset costs to the borough for the permits required to keep this monument in its current form and location.”“I think it would be imprudent to remove it,” said Carol Bucco. “They (Tilt-Up) thought they did the right thing. These guys are innocent.”Arnie Fuog, 60, said “I don’t mind the monument,” but he did not like the “undercover” route he believes it took.In January 2015, the Borough Council voted 4 to 0 on a resolution approving a Tilt-Up proposal to build a Sandy memorial “at no cost to the borough.” The resolution called for plans to be submitted to the borough for review.While all of this seems to have happened properly, at least some seem to have been under the impression nothing had been formalized to go ahead with the monument.The idea for the concrete Super Standy monument goes back to about November 2014, said Borough Administrator Tim Hill. Tilt-Up was looking to do a community project in anticipation of its annual meeting, scheduled for the fall of 2015 in New Brunswick.Hill said three sites were under consideration: Veterans Memorial Park, Huddy Park, or behind the Community Center. “There were council members” aware of the project and selected location, Hill said.“The monument was solely built to honor the people that lived through Sandy,” said Fred Anton, who grew up in neighboring Atlantic Highlands, is in the construction supply business, and was a liaison between Tilt-Up and Highlands.The borough said a CAFRA permit was not needed, because the monument would replace an A-frame gazebo, although not in the exact footprint, Anton said.“All this was approved from the town,” said Bob Murray, who lives in Somerset County and was the project manager. “This is a case of buyer’s remorse. We got a green light to do this.”Once the warm season comes, Tilt-Up was to finish the project by painting it with a white protective paint, Murray said. Also, Tilt-Up was thinking of having a “grand opening,” a community celebration of the monument, Murray said.Now, the monument’s future is unclear.Mitch Bloomquist, Tit-Up’s executive director, said the approximately 400-member association would be “interested if they (Highlands officials) want to go for that (CAFRA) permit.”“We’d be happy to coordinate a donation for that,” Bloomquist said.But Bloomquist told the Council that Tilt-Up would not pay for the monument’s removal.“Whether it should be removed should be up to the community,” Card said. “I don’t think we should apply for a (CAFRA) permit at this time. I can’t have open dialogue without complete information.”Councilwoman Claudette D’Arrigo said she was concerned with environmental issues regarding the placement of the monument on the beach. Now, the Borough Council has to look at the issue as a community, Broullon said.“We’re not going to take action without adequate feedback,” Broullon said.“I understand people don’t like it,” Murray said. “(But) I’ve gotten a few emails from people who do like it.”last_img

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