Gifford Marine

Gifford Marine has gone out of business, partly because it's unable to overcome damage by Hurricane Sandy.

Edward Lea

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — A long-time marina will not reopen this spring, saying it was facing mounting troubles before Hurricane Sandy delivered the coup de grace.

“This has been a long ordeal,” Gifford Marine President William Gifford said. “It’s just one thing after another, from fishing regulations to prices of gas.

 “The finishing touch was the storm that basically put us out of business,” he said.

The marina closed in early October and is in foreclosure awaiting a sheriff’s sale, said Jim McGowan, an executive vice president and chief credit officer with Cape Bank, based in Cape May Court House.

Superior Court records show Cape Bank began proceedings against Gifford Marina in July, to foreclose a 2004 mortgage originally worth $2.2 million and take possession of the property. Courts ruled in Cape Bank’s favor in December.

County records show the business repeatedly fell behind in its taxes and had tax liens sold against the property in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Gifford Marine later redeemed most of them.

Last week, a fence surrounded Gifford Marine, at Margate Boulevard and Dock Thorofare in the tidal marshes between Northfield and Margate. Just four boats sat in winter storage. The business’ phone was disconnected, and a sign on the fence directed calls to Cape Bank.

Gifford Marine once operated what was one of the largest commercial fishing and clamming operations on the East Coast, with a fleet of 26 vessels. It made the news in 1989, when one of their clamming boats got stuck in reverse and bounced off the Trump Princess, a 282-foot luxury yacht then owned by former casino magnate Donald Trump and parked at the Frank S. Farley State Marina in Atlantic City.

Gifford, 70, a lifelong fisherman, retired from the clamming business in 1995 to open Gifford Marine Inc. on Franklin Avenue in Pleasantville. He bought the Margate Boulevard property at a sheriff’s sale for $950,000 in 1999, according to Atlantic County real estate records, and sold the Pleasantville marina for $430,000 in 2006.

Gifford said it was difficult being in business as a small firm.

“There are just so many things against a marina owner,” Gifford said, listing state and national fishing regulations, the rising price of gas and the fact his business was along a private toll road and subject to its tolls.

He also criticized the response from insurance companies after Hurricane Sandy.

“If anyone around here thinks they have flood insurance, they don’t know what they are talking about,” Gifford said.

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