Home Ocean County Casino Pier Plans Revealed As Seaside Heights Residents, Businesses Debate Land Swap

Casino Pier Plans Revealed As Seaside Heights Residents, Businesses Debate Land Swap

A proposed museum that will house a historic carousel on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A proposed museum that will house a historic carousel on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The owners of Casino Pier in Seaside Heights will potentially dedicate as much as $40 million to a build a pier extension and new rides in what some hail as a reinvigoration of the famous boardwalk. Others, however, view the borough’s plan to give more than an acre of sand to the pier owners in exchange for a historic carousel and a boardwalk museum and as a giveaway that would erode a precious swath of beachfront property.

A proposed museum that will house a historic carousel on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A proposed museum that will house a historic carousel on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The two sides of the debate were discussed at a hearing Wednesday night in Seaside Heights, a requirement by the state Department of Environmental Protection because the land on which the proposed pier extension would be built is included in an open space inventory filed by borough officials.

The hearing provided some of the first detailed glimpses into what the expanded pier and boardwalk museum might look like, including an artist’s rendering of the latter. Borough Attorney George Gilmore said the multi million-dollar pier expansion would include a new Ferris wheel and roller coaster, among other modern thrill rides. A protective dune that is planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be built underneath the pier itself and be anchored by the pier’s superstructure. The Sky Ride cable car attraction would be moved northward from its current position.


Under the land swap plan, the borough would give up 1.36 acres of beachfront north of the current pier for the expansion. In return, the Storino family, which owns Casino Pier, would donate back about an equal amount of land and a historic Dentzel-Loof Carousel. The carousel would be housed in a boardwalk museum which would be built on the donated land, which is currently used as a parking lot situated between Carteret and Sampson avenues.

A rendering of the proposed museum shows a grand, octagonal building with a sprawling observation deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

“We’re trying to find a way to have a tourist draw back in Seaside Heights,” said Gilmore. “There really hasn’t been a significant increase [in tourism] since Sandy, we’ve kind of been in the doldrums.”

The borough’s business community largely agreed, endorsing the plan during the hearing, though some residents balked at the idea of giving up publicly owned beachfront to a private company – even for the chance to save the carousel, which was to be sold by the Storino family.

“Our beach belongs to all of us here in Seaside Heights, and we’re so proud to share it with visitors from around the world,” said Steven Melvin, owner of Three Brothers Pizza. “How dare anyone think they can just give it away. There is an alternative to this. The deal stinks.”

Melvin said if the land must be sold off, it should go to the highest bidder, not just the business with the “deepest pockets.”

But Melvin’s disdain for the land swap ran counter to most of his colleagues in the borough’s tourism industry.

“Since Sandy came, my business has dropped tremendously,” said Tom Partyka, who runs a rental home business. “When my vacationers call to reserve, they’re constantly asking me, ‘Tom, what’s going on? There’s not enough rides there.’ I think it’s a fantastic idea and it’s great for all the business owners.”

“Without exception, everyone is for this proposal,” said Mike Loundy, a broker with Seaside Realty, speaking for about 500 rental home owners he represents. ” In July of 2013 when we had no rides, all of us in business here saw that we had no one in town. When the pier opened, people came back here again.”

Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Wayne Cimorelli, owner of Spicy Cantina, agreed.

“For years, I always heard, ‘why can’t Seaside Heights be more like Point Pleasant Beach?’” he said. “The Casino Pier people, who own the entire boardwalk in Point Pleasant, have proven that they are family oriented and can do things right, and they can not only compete with Wildwood, but Ocean City as well. The fact that they want to make this capital improvement to our town is something that we shouldn’t take for granted.”

But some residents said Seaside Heights’ issues go beyond a lack of rides, and those issues need to be addressed before the borough’s most valuable asset – its beach – is whittled away.

“Our property values have tanked,” said Andre Tulley. “The situation we’re discussing tonight will do nothing to resolve the borough’s real problems. The best part of Seaside Heights is our beach. Giving away a portion of it is a crime.”

Mayor William Akers said with the planned beach replenishment project, the borough’s beaches will grow larger to make up for the sand lost to the pier proposal.

“We agree the beach is the reason people come to Seaside Heights, but your beach is going to be there and it’s going to be just as big or bigger than it is now,” Akers said.

The debate will continue as public comment on the plan will be accepted through May 20. The DEP must sign off on the project before the borough can convey the beachfront land to the Casino Pier owners.

  • Stephen Melvin

    Spicy Cantina and Coin Castle is also partly owned by the Storino family,most business owners are not residents.Most residents have not been informed,there was no mailing just a sign on the beach at the property in question so it’s a wild generalization that a local real estate who lives in Point Pleasant agent can say about a supposed 500 renters.

  • Paul Hennen

    This has to be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Who cares if they take over a part of the beach? A historic museum with the carousal? That’ll be great. A new roller coaster, A new ferris wheel? more thrill rides? Bring back the tourism and restore the shore. If you want to go to the beach, go somewhere else. There are beaches covering the entire New Jersey coast. THis should not even be a debate. If Casino Pier is fully restored, tourism will come back on a large level. End of story. It’s fact. So all of the people objecting need to go right back to wherever they came from with the people giving Funtown Pier crap for wanting to build structures higher than 80 feet. Yes, that is also a problem going on right now.

    • Stephen Melvin

      Isn’t it up to the residents of Seaside Heights what happens to their land that they have been paying to maintain.Nobody would like us going to their town giving our opinions on what they should or shouldn’t do.Most businesses in Seaside had a good summer last year,this deal is fueled by greed.The land on the beach just south of Casino Pier is privately owned and available,but you can be sure the owner is not dumb enough to trade it for a carousel.Look into it some more Paul,they are taken us for fools.

      • Paul Hennen

        A deal fueled by greed to bring in more tourists to make the town richer? Is that why they agreed to film “Jersey Shore” there, cause it certainly increased tourism. Increased tourism equals increased business. All that equals way higher property values. The town of Seaside Heights is being a pain to expanding and refueling it’s main tourist attraction, and Seaside Park is doing the same thing. To be honest, it’s sickening, and incredibly selfish of anyone to not allow them to do as they should. If not for the rides and attractions, there are dozens of other beaches people can go to in NJ. But they come to Seaside a lot and so many people who live very far away know where/what it is. The pizza guy knows the truth. If the town thinks they are doing any good by being trouble makers, they are being just that: trouble makers. And they won’t ever win in the end, so they might as well just give up now, and stop delaying construction.

      • Paul – The town (Seaside Heights) is endorsing the plan, not standing in the way of it. Regarding Seaside Park and Funtown’s redevelopment, the issues tend to be a bit different, as SSP is more residential in nature and not necessarily reliant on tourism revenue to support its tax base and home values.

  • Anon2

    I was a former long-time resident there. I rarely visited their “most valuable asset” as they charged an astronomical price to enjoy what should be free. If they want to cycle more people through the city to increase soda and games sales then they should cut those prices to nothing. This will bring people in droves back to the shore to enjoy all that it offers. With the prices done away with people would visit and use this “valuable asset” and bring their wallets with them.

  • Mac

    rule of thumb: if Gilmore says it’s a good deal, then it is definitely a good deal for him – rarely, if ever, is anything he touts a good deal for the taxpayers

  • Greg

    The last time George Gilmore publicly supported something, Jackson Township was stuck with a corrupt former Paterson mayor as their Business Administrator and 4 years later, he landed a sweet six figure contract getting that BA re-elected in Paterson. Something is up for him to publicly like something.

  • Jack

    The town has proven it cannot make the proper decisions. The state should take control of that town for many reasons.
    The powers that be cannot pull SSH out of the doldrums it is in.and consistently make foolish decisions with the taxpayers money and the decision to make a museum is just another ridiculous one as well.
    Would love to conduct an audit to know where all the cash from the beaches / parking/ passes / and anything else cash related goes????
    I would propose that when they figure out how to remove the steel structure sitting in the middle of town that has been there for the last 6 years, once they can prove that they can clear that mess, then let the M&C move on to the next decision.
    The town is just 1 mile long and yet this steel structure which is a major eyesore remains in place as if it doesn’t exist. What town allows a developer to build a sizable structure without them having a bond to back up the construction.
    What town lets 20 something’s make a disgusting mess out of their town each and every weekend throughout the summer.
    I understand they paid $125,000 for that carousel sculpture in Sumner and Bay Ave. – Pathetic.
    The town needs to focus on family entertainment but yet google “Seaside Heights News” and you will see headlines for drug selling, gangs and an amazing amount of bar fights. WEEKLY.
    The poor hotel owners have to resort to receiving state assisted clientel year round because families will not go near these places and the hotel owners are trying to pay their bills. You think families want to vacation next door to known pedophiles and drug users ?

    The town is overtaken by 15 – 25 year olds urinating , getting sick and driving drunk. It is a pathetic mess. It all stems from the bars and streets. For some reason, the town looks the other direction from these weekend warriors and allow this ruckus to continue even in this 2015 year.
    Please, State of NJ- Help SSH residents

  • Paul Hennen

    lol some of the comments down below. So much lies and nonsense made up. The pier/Casino Pier/it’s owners should have all say just as those who own Funtown Pier should. It needs more tourists, a historical building with the carousal inside will look amazing. It’ll open the arcade to having more stuff for people to play/do. More pier means more rides and a roller coaster. So lots and lots of more tourism.

    People really…drugs…drunk teenagers…random pedos…other issues…every single town has that lol. Grow up. also, screw up townships, you left an eyesore steal structure for how long now? Knock that thing down. And, stop giving the people who actually wanna make money so much trouble. This whole plan probably would’ve been all ready and complete for next season as would Funtown’s, but we will be lucky to see fully restored piers/boardwalk by the end of the season of 2017 at this point. I blame them entirely for a good 2 years of construction delay. One more thing: there are beaches everywhere, cutting off a part of it in Seaside is practically meaningless in every sense of the word.