Brick’s mayor said Tuesday that taxpayers will construct a building to house amenities for transient boaters at an “outrageous price” of$1,396,960 thanks to agreements made by a previous administration in order to secure grant funding for Traders Cove Marina and Park.
Brick secured $4.9 million in boating infrastructure and I BOAT NJ grants toward the project, but as part of the agreement, was obligated to build a facility to support the site as a destination for transient boaters – boaters who pay a fee to stay at the marina for a few nights, usually as part of a longer trip up and down the eastern seaboard.
The township council – two members of which said they voted in favor of the project “under duress” – was put into a “terrible position,” Ducey said. If the township refused to build the transient boating facility, the grant money would likely have to be given back.
Ducey said the project was scaled down from its original design, an 8,000 square foot building with boating facilities on the first floor and an open space on the second floor which would have been developed as a restaurant or banquet hall. The new building will simply house two sets of restrooms, a lounge area and a laundry room.
Like all public projects in New Jersey, the cost of construction is driven above private sector rates by the state’s prevailing wage law, though the $1.3 million figure is slightly less than the $1.5 million estimate provided to the township by the Barlo and Gouvernale architecture firm, which was contracted to design the building. Coming in under budget, however, put township officials in yet another bind – because the project was under the estimate, the bids cannot legally be rejected.
“We’re dumping more taxpayer money into the money pit known as Traders Cove,” said Ducey.
The contract was awarded by the township council Tuesday night to Wallace Brothers, a construction firm based in Brick.
Council members reluctantly voted in favor of the project.
“I make my living administering grants, and I know the ramifications of applying for grant money, accepting grant money and not fulfilling your obligations,” said Councilwoman Andrea Zapcic. “I feel like it’s extortion.”
Zapcic and Councilwoman Heather deJong both said their votes were made “under duress.”
Council President Paul Mummolo cast the lone dissenting vote.
The silver lining, according to officials, is that the facility will promote Brick Township as a destination for boaters, and will be the final construction project undertaken at the site at taxpayer expense.
A privately-owned restaurant is also slated to be built at the marina, from which the township will collect annual leasing fees. A Green Acres hearing on the restaurant, proposed by Chefs International, will take place Sept. 19.