Business

Stories From Main Street: Rebuilding Seaside Park, N.J.

'Without That Boardwalk, This Town Does Not Exist'
The Funtown Amusement Pier collapses during the massive fire that destroyed part of the boardwalk and surrounding businesses in Seaside Park, N.J. (Photo: CBS 2)

The Funtown Amusement Pier collapses during the massive fire that destroyed part of the boardwalk and surrounding businesses in Seaside Park, N.J. (Photo: CBS 2)

SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – For any shore town the boardwalk is Main Street.

“Without that boardwalk, this town does not exist,” Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.

He said he’s grateful that the state is going to help pay for removing the charred debris left behind following Thursday’s massive boardwalk fire in Seaside Park.

And just like after superstorm Sandy, Akers said there is no question that the boardwalk will be rebuilt.

“You’ve used your resources to get back online, you’ve got your doors open, you had a sub-par summer. Everybody’s down about 30 percent and now you’re asked to do it again,” he said.

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For business owners, the past 11 months have seen a run of bad luck. But there is optimism, Adams noted.

“Clean up, start building again. I’ve been through this before,” John Sundermann of Big Hearted John’s Beach Shop said.

New Jersey is offering $50,000 grants and $5 million no-interest loans with no payments due for two years, but still it could be an uphill climb for many businesses.

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

“I had no insurance. Usually I do. this year, this summer was so awful that I wasn’t able to pay for it so everything is gone,” seafood restaurant owner Nick Dionisio said.

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“We plan on fixing it back up and rebuilding the inside of the arcade. We will be open in the spring,” Funtown Arcade manager Daniel Shauger said.

Despite what some have called a punch to the gut, local officials said this fire is just another challenge to overcome.

“When the Garden State Parkway was put through, this became a place, this became a destination and it still is. That’s what makes us able to say we’re going to rebuild this. There’s a big stake, there’s an emotional stake in this. It isn’t just a business stake,” said Seaside Park Administrator Robert Martucci.

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