The Jan. 22 meeting grew contentious at times, after City Councilman Mike Fagen asked LaCarrubba about a line in the resolution to hire LiRo stating that the firm would oversee the solicitation of public input. Fagen said that residents were eager for details about the reconstruction and coastal protection, and asked how, exactly, they would offer their ideas.
“I believe that a project this critical to the city should include public hearings,” Fagen said. “We held public hearings six years ago just to discuss the Army Corps of Engineers project at the time, which would have involved many of these elements, which was the barrier wall of dunes and reconstruction of the boardwalk. Is there going to be some sort of public hearing process so that the public can be heard?”
City Council President Scott Mandel said that the resolution dealt only with LiRo’s selection to begin the process of rebuilding the boardwalk, and did not extend to other storm-mitigation projects.
“These are legitimate questions, it’s written here,” said Fagen, who later abstained from the vote. “Why can’t that question be answered? You’re cutting me off.”
Mandel accused Fagen of “grandstanding."
“[The answer] is in the resolution,” Mandel said.
LaCarrubba added that the resolution was separate from the city’s renewed talks with the Army Corps. “It has nothing to do with the Army Corps project,” he said. “It has nothing to do with beach restoration or replenishment of sand on the beach. It is specific to the boardwalk.”
Resident Eileen Hession said she was interested in learning the answer to Fagen’s question, and also called for public hearings. “The way this [resolution] reads,” she said, “it looks like [LiRo is] involved in every aspect of the boardwalk.”