Christie Outlines Goals for 2013, 2014
A packed house of about 800 people attended the Governor's 100th town hall meeting
Help is on the way, but it is going to be at least another year before New Jersey's beaches are back to what people remember from summer of 2012.
That was the message from Governor Chris Christie at the 100th town hall meeting, held today at St Mary's Parish Center in Stafford.
Christie fielded questions from residents and business owners located all over southern Ocean County today, many of whom voiced frustration over lack of payouts from insurance companies and FEMA.
Although Christie said that he is confident Senate officials will approve the Sandy relief package totaling $50.7 billion in coming days, and the measure will be signed by the President shortly thereafter, he said there is bookkeeping to be done, which could hold up checks to individuals for a few more weeks.
After the President signs the bill, "don't expect to see me on your doorstep the next day after it is signed," Christie said, to some chuckles from attendees. However, he said, his office is committed to disseminating the funds in a quick fashion to those in need.
He said the funds will go toward several areas, specifically: dune replenishment and block grants to help business owners rebuild.
That was good news for business owners like Tom Paxton, owner of Great Bay Marina in Little Egg Harbor, who said he has recieved little to no help from his insurance or government agencies after Sandy leveled his docks.
"We need to rebuild," he said in a comment to Christie.
Christie told residents that summer 2014 is the target date by which residents would see the beach they left in summer 2012. The goal for this summer, he said, is to make the waterways navigable again, and make the beaches comfortable enough for people to get back into their homes, and this summer, for people to visit, swim, and have fun.
"I don't want there to be unrealistic expectations," Christie said. "We want to rebuild the right way." He said this will mean taking a hard look at the revised advisory FEMA flood maps, and for residents, rebuilding to the specifications requested.
Stafford Mayor John Spodofora, who was in attendance at the town hall today. said during a recent meeting that 2013 will be a rough one for the township.
The current tax base is certain to drop with an estimated 4500 homes and business having their current assessments adjusted due to the damage they suffered, said Spodofora.
A reduction in revenue is not an option at this point as the township suffered severe infrastructure damage to roads, bayfront areas, the Beach Haven West Community Center and the water and sewer system among other areas, said the mayor.
A Beach Haven West resident expressed concerns about having to walk away from her home, because she and her neighbors are facing rising taxes, and, if they don't comply with revised FEMA maps, higher flood insurance premiums.
"Choices will need to be made here ... some are unpleasant choices," Christie answered, but, he added, he is hopeful that the aid will ease at least some of those choices.