By PETE WALTON
The Bradley Beach Borough Council has endorsed plans to revive a century-old theater on Main Street.
However, a proposal by the group to request $300,000 in assistance from the borough over seven years met with strong opposition from residents and a lukewarm reception from the council.
Cinema Lab, comprised of six film industry veterans and New Jersey locals, wants to reopen the former Beach Cinema on Main Street as The Bradley this summer.
The council unanimously approved a resolution in support of Cinema Lab’s efforts. The resolution said the reopening effort is “well thought-out, reasonable and achievable,” but did not address the proposal for public funding.
Council members pointed to the fact that many borough businesses have been struggling in light of the coronavirus battle, and that it would be difficult for the council to support one private venture financially while not offering financial help to others.
Shortly after announcing its plans last month, Cinema Lab met its goal of $50,000 in crowd-sourced funding online. Resident Paul Neshamkin said he felt $300,000 could be raised quickly from investors, indicating that he would be happy to be one of them.
Cinema Lab’s Arianna Bocco, a borough resident and president of AMC Networks’ IFC Films, said the online response was “phenomenal,” but that $300,000 would not be “an easy thing to raise.”
The building opened in 1915 as the Palace Theatre and featured vaudeville acts before starting to show films 10 years later. In 1976, it was renamed the Beach Cinema under the ownership of John Esposito, presenting films at affordable prices for more than four decades. Michael Sodano and Nancy Sabino purchased the theater and rebranded it as The ShowRoom Cinema Bradley Beach in May 2019. They closed the operation due to the pandemic after spending tens of thousands of dollars on renovations.
Also at the meeting, Borough Administrator David Brown said an “exit conference” was scheduled for today (Feb. 11) with auditor Gerard Stankiewicz of Samuel Klein and Company. Brown said he and Chief Financial Officer Sandra Rice expected to receive the long-overdue 2019 audit of the borough’s finances.
“Seeing will be believing,” said Council President Al Gubitosi, a former certified public accountant who filed a complaint on the council’s behalf about the lateness of the audit with the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy.
The council gave final approval to a $1.1 million bond issue for a new public works garage, new vehicles and other equipment. Rice said the ordinance would allow for the bonds to be issued as needed.
A new garage for the borough’s public works department is planned, along with relocation of an existing diesel fuel tank. Two utility pickup trucks and a front-end loader would also be purchased.
Mayor Larry Fox urged all borough residents to sign up for the “reverse 911” system which allows the borough to provide timely information to the public, including advisories about moving vehicles so that streets can be plowed after snowstorms.
The mayor said sign-up information is available on the borough web site or by calling borough police at 732-775-6900.