The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association is undertaking several ambitious projects this spring in the historic district including replacing the northern section of the Ocean Grove boardwalk destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, installing a new roof on the Great Auditorium, restoration of Thornley Chapel and rebulding five tent sites destroyed by fire last year.
The boardwalk project should be completed by Memorial Day weekend- at the latest.
“This is now the beginning of the project and they have been working on it since January. We are hoping it will be done by the middle of May but certainly by Memorial Day weekend,” said Bill Bailey, director of operations for the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.
Ocean Grove’s North End boardwalk project will redo the boardwalk from the Seaview Avenue street access, north to the Asbury Park border. The boardwalk will not only be replaced but also widened.
More than 20 years ago after a storm the original 30-foot boardwalk was damaged and then rebuilt with a 20-foot reduction.The boardwalk is now being expanded back to its original 30-foot width with an even wider area in front of a large commercial building at the northern end.
The project originally had a timeline to begin last fall but potential litigation challenged the awarding of a contract and delayed the project.
Bailey said anything can happen in a project like this but that he remains optimistic the completion schedules are good estimates.
The OGCMA expects to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for 90 percent of the project’s cost. Any money received from FEMA must go directly to pay down the bond issued for the $609,200 contract, which was issued by the township, not to the OGCMA.
“This is a pre-approved FEMA project so the money has already been approved, we are not going out and seeking funding,” Bailey said.
As far as the public is concerned, Bailey said he feels people “are anxious” to see the project finished.
“It has been a longtime since this section of the boardwalk has been out of commission due to Sandy. This project will make the boardwalk whole again,” he said.
Also, in other related projects in Ocean Grove, the roof of the Great Auditorium is being replaced after about 30 percent of it was blown off during Superstorm Sandy.
“We have to replace the entire roof on the Auditorium because we could not historically match the exact roof that was there for at least 30 years,” Bailey said.
He said the roof is comprised of zinc metal panels that are, basically, being replaced a few at a time so the interior of the Great Auditorium is not exposed to the elements.
After Sandy, temporary tarps were installed to protect the historic building’s interior, then a temporary rubber roof.
An insurance claim is funding the roof restoration, estimated at around $1 million, with donations covering the remaining amount.
Bailey said he hopes the roof project will be completed by the middle of June.
“We are about 40 percent complete,” he said.
The wider boardwalk at the very northern end will be built on joists installed into previously-existing asphalt. The boardwalk planking will then be screwed to the joists. The rest of the boardwalk will be built on traditional pilings.
A composite building material, named Trex, will be used over the area supported by the pilings while cheaper timber will be used in the wider commercial area.
Other restoration projects expected to be completed in Ocean Grove soon is one for the historic Thornley Chapel and the rebuilding of five summer tent sites destroyed by fire about a year ago.