Garden Pier and other Atlantic City landmarks damaged during Hurricane Sandy are finally on track for repairs in the coming months.
In a special meeting Thursday, City Council agreed to seek bids for what is expected to be millions of dollars in fixes, the majority of which should be covered by the city’s insurance plan.
Repairs will address damage to the Police Athletic League building, the All Wars Memorial building, Surf Stadium and Garden Pier. Bids will also include repairs to three Atlantic City fire stations that suffered an estimated $900,000 in damage during the storm.
Public Works Director Paul Jerkins said that in some cases, particularly Garden Pier, the city has been engaged in a battle with its insurance company to ensure the repairs will be covered before requesting bids on the work.
“Even if we had the money in our coffers, if it wasn’t approved by the insurance company, then we don’t get that money back. We have to be responsible to the residents,” Jerkins said. “Unfortunately, a lot of residents of Atlantic City have had the same situation with their homes where the insurance companies have stalled them for months. Just because we’re a municipality doesn’t mean we are immune from that.”
Bids for all of the projects are due by 11 a.m. Sept. 24. That should allow contracts to be awarded at the Sept. 25 council meeting, Jerkins said.
Jerkins declined to provide expected budgets for each project, citing the city’s upcoming bid process.
He said work on Garden Pier was expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but added that quotes for the work have been as much as $100,000 apart.
Garden Pier received $3.3 million in upgrades less than a year ago but has been shut down for nearly 10 months. The renovated pier had been open for less than two months when the hurricane hit, inflicting significant roof damage on the Atlantic City Historical Museum and the Atlantic City Arts Center housed on the pier.
Complicating repairs is the intricate terra cotta roofs on the buildings. The rounded clay tiles are more expensive than other materials but are historic to the property, Jerkins said.
Still, officials, including Mayor Lorenzo Langford, stressed that there are repairs that are more important to the city than Garden Pier. While Garden Pier primarily serves the city’s tourists, residents are more directly affected by the services offered at the Police Athletic League building on New York Avenue and the All Wars Memorial building on Adriatic Avenue.
Segments of both buildings, as well as an elevator in the All Wars building, are still unusable due to flood damage. Langford called the All Wars building the most versatile community building in the city. It hosts wedding receptions, banquets and other gatherings and serves as a shelter for the city during weather-related emergencies.
Also included in the latest round of bids are repairs to firehouses at Indiana and Baltic avenues, Annapolis and Crosson avenues, and Indiana and Grant avenues. Officials were unable to immediately comment on the city’s deductibles against the expected $900,000 of work.
Sixth Ward Councilman Tim Mancuso, however, questioned why the city would invest in significant repairs to aging buildings.
“We could build a new fire station for this cost,” Mancuso said. “Some of these buildings are so old, we ought to think about building now.”
City Engineer William England agreed that the city should preemptively look into future options for building but stressed that the slated repairs are necessary.
Work across the city is expected to take several months to complete. No specific time lines were available Thursday.
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