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Sunday, September 21, 2014

City: Boardwalk costs are ‘unique’ to Long Beach
Officials: can’t compare it to reconstruction projects in N.J.
Alyson Goodman/Herald
City officials say that the costs of rebuilding the Long Beach boardwalk are “unique,” while a number of residents say that the project's costs are exorbitant compared to other boardwalk projects.

City officials this week responded to critics who have questioned the $44.2 million cost of rebuilding the Long Beach boardwalk and compared it with reconstruction projects in New Jersey that are costing substantially less.

City Manager Jack Schnirman said that comparing the city’s boardwalk to a $4 million project to rebuild a 2-mile structure in Spring Lake, N.J., is like comparing “apples and peanut butter.”

“We couldn’t be comparing two more dissimilar projects,” said Public Works Commissioner Jim LaCarrubba. “…

[T]hat boardwalk is not made to carry any vehicles, and is not even a third of our width. It’s essentially ground-level — in other parts it’s just flat with the beach; it has no wall underneath or ramps. There is no comparison.”

The response from the city came after a number of residents criticized the cost of the project. Former City Council President Jimmy Hennessy, a regular critic of the administration, said that the city is paying millions of dollars more per mile for its boardwalk than those in New Jersey. He cited a $10 million reconstruction project for the 1.3-mile boardwalk in Belmar, N.J., and an $8 million project for the 1-mile boardwalk in Seaside Heights, to name a few.

“What’s so different about our boardwalk?” Hennessy said. “You have to ask yourself, Why are we paying so much? I’m all for a beautiful, nice boardwalk, but I don’t want to get ripped off in the process.”

LaCarrubba addressed the criticism at Tuesday’s Chamber of Commerce meeting, saying that the Long Beach boardwalk is “unique.” “It has to hold a certain load,” he explained. “It’s 50 feet wide, 2.2 miles long, and we have certain code requirements based on its height. We’re also putting in mitigation measures to protect the boardwalk not only from the south side, on the ocean, but on the north side as well to keep people from getting underneath it. It’s a completely different animal from what other municipalities are doing. It’s a huge structure and a huge undertaking.”

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