By DON STINE
The constant banging of a loud pile driver in action may be annoying to some but residents in Ocean Grove are glad to hear the sound.
Pilings are now being driven and work is proceeding on schedule to complete the middle section of the historic district’s boardwalk which was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
“We hope to be done between June 15 and the end of the month so we are still on track with that,” said J.P. Gradone, Chief Operating Officer for the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. “The whole boardwalk corridor will now be open again.”
An official boardwalk ribbon-cutting will be held Sun., July 6 at 2 p.m.
This phase of the boardwalk reconstruction project will replace the missing boardwalk between the Ocean Pathway Pavilion and the Beach Office. The boardwalk will be rebuilt 30 feet west of its former location to be more in line with the existing northerly and southerly sections of the boardwalk and behind an existing bulkhead that provided excellent protection during Sandy.
Gradone said that in addition to moving the boardwalk to the west, there will be a structural wall and metal sheathing at the eastern side.
“(The boardwalk) will be like a fortress now and it should prevent any water getting underneath and lifting it up” he said.
He said the Ocean Grove community is very excited to see the work underway.
“People are always worried that the boardwalk will never be finished but once they see the pilings going in, they see we are on target,” he said.
Gradone said driving the pilings should be done by the end of this week.
The north end of the boardwalk is also expected to be replaced but Gradone said that will not be done until an off season.
The $1,135,570 project is funded by a bond ordinance that was adopted on Jan. 27 by the Neptune Township Committee. Neptune officials are overseeing the project.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had previously ruled that Ocean Grove was ineligible to receive federal money for Sandy-related repairs but that decision was overturned in January and FEMA money will be used to pay off about 90 percent the bond ordinance.
Any amount left unpaid would be repaid by the association over a 10-year period. The OGCMA is also put down the 5 percent down payment on the bond, or $70,000.
Ocean Grove officials estimate it will cost from $3 million to $3.5 million for total boardwalk and beachfront repairs, including replacing the destroyed fishing pier.
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