Dilapidated sections of the Atlantic City Boardwalk along Absecon Inlet will not be demolished by Memorial Day as previously planned, officials said Friday.
“We’re all of the same mind to get rid of the eyesore and make it safe for people to swim and recreate on those beaches, but it just takes time because we’re dealing with state, federal and local processes,” Keith Mills, director of planning and development for Atlantic City, said Friday.
Mills spoke a day after a 40-foot section of Boardwalk fell into the water in front of the Flagship high-rise condominium complex at Grammercy Place and Maine Avenue.
The collapse adds to the dilapidated area stretching along the inlet. The area’s higher wind speeds and overall intensity of weather and tidal activity have long sped the deterioration of the Boardwalk there, leaving much of it warped or broken, and blocked to public access.
The recent break occurred because a repair patch on one of the supports holding the wooden walkway over the water gave way, city Public Works Director Paul Jerkins said Thursday.
“That’s a first on that whole end. Even in the bad section, the columns are stable.” Mills said. “So it was totally unexpected.”
Contractors assessed the damage Friday morning to help officials decide whether to repair the Boardwalk, given other parts of it along the inlet are slated for demolition.
Mills could not comment on whether officials will bulldoze or tear down the section scrutinized Friday, and Jerkins and City Engineer Bill England were unavailable.
But Jerkins said previously that officials likely will demolish the newly collapsed area because they are leaning away from rebuilding the Boardwalk over the water in favor of reconstructing it as a walkway atop the bulkhead between the sand and street.
The entire project will cost at least $6 million, according to estimates previously compiled by city officials and reflected in the Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan.
City officials have raised nearly double that amount — slightly more than $11 million — during the past decade to fix the Boardwalk there but ended up spending it on other things instead.
The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority now controls planning and development in the Tourism District, which includes the Boardwalk. The agency has provided $650,000 toward its demolition in the inlet, an undertaking expected to cost $1 million.
CRDA Deputy Director Susan Ney Thompson said previously that she hoped workers would finish tearing down the Boardwalk by the end of this month.
CRDA spokeswoman Kim Butler on Friday deferred to the city on where those plans stand.
The municipality won’t find out until June whether it will get a $150,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a City Hall memo shows.
If that money comes through, the city would start seeking proposals for the demolition in hopes that a contractor would be “hungry enough” to do the job for $800,000, Mills said.
But that project cannot even start until after the Coastal Research Center at Richard Stockton College finishes a sonar scan in that area to map debris and ensure all of it is removed, Mills said.
The city and Stockton have finalized the contract for the project, said Mills, who wasn’t sure how long it will take to complete.
Stockton officials did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment late Friday.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration also has provided the city with a $2.4 million grant for the redecking of the Boardwalk, bringing total secured funding for the entire undertaking to nearly $3.1 million of the $6 million estimated cost.
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