Lavallette Mayor: Time to Let Residents Return Home Permanently

Borough in surprisingly good shape after storm

It's been a month since Superstorm Sandy roared ashore in Lavallette.

But the streets have been cleared, the water is safe to drink, the electricity has been turned on and even the cable television service is back.

Just about the only thing missing in the small, barrier island borough is its residents – and Mayor Walter LaCicero wants that to change, quickly.

"Lavallette is one community that miraculously did not suffer the structural damage that occurred both to the north and to the south," LaCicero said in a letter mailed to Gov. Chris Christie Nov. 21.

By Thursday, LaCicero said he had not heard a formal response from Christie pertaining to repopulating his town, which has 1,884 year-round residents.

"I've gotten two texts from the office of the governor," said LaCicero. "They got the letter, they haven't forgotten about us, but I have not gotten a response yet."

Lavallette is unique in that it has its own electrical distribution system, water system and sanitary sewer system. It also has its own public works and police departments, as well as a borough school district for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The borough is ready to repopulate permanently, and LaCicero said he sees no reason why residents should be held up any longer.

"We're ready, we've had electric since Nov. 10," he said. "We never lost water, we never lost sewer. My cable TV is on, my Internet works."

Presently, residents are able to return to their homes during daylight hours on a staggered schedule.

The only service the borough does not have is natural gas, though service is expected to be restored within a few weeks, and in other areas such as Long Beach Island, those without gas service were issued space heaters to be used temporarily.

LaCicero, who attended a tour of the barrier island by state legislators and other officials Thursday, said he spoke with State Police officials who informed him of "a different route" that could lead to opening up the town.

"I'm optimistic that, rather quickly, we can have our people in," the mayor said.

shorefriend December 03, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Eric, it’s good that Lavallette will lead the charge and definitely put pressure on Toms River to expedite the repair of the basic infrastructure. But overall I don't know how it's going to be feasible. No way to avoid from the North or South to and from Lavallette you must cross over the sections that are the “Warzone” uninhabitable. What about the lockout /curfew times coming on and off; how the heck is that going to work are people going to hide out in Lavallette trying to avoid the boot off the island? Either way it’s good to know that there is power available in Lavallette, let’s face it, the barrier island has so many towns on such a small stretch of land you almost can just run extension cords up and down the whole island!!!
Mark December 03, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Tom River Township's Mayor& Council is an excellent example of a dysfunctional, inept and incompetent governing body. The Governor should step in and appoint some business people to do what these zeros are obviously NOT DOING! * Why doesn't the Township have a mobile command center on the barrier island every single day to handle permits, tax appeals, answer general questions like what the process of succeeding from a dysfunctional government entity? Perhaps this command center can have toilet facilites that taxpayers can use! Has anyone see Ward 1 Councilwoman Maria Maruca and Township Mayor Kellerhar?
Marina December 03, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Keleher and Maruca are only arround for photo ops. Both need to be shown the door next election. I would hope the Patch would look into this....Why is Toms River charging for permits to restore power? Let's keep kicking the people while their down, DISGUSTING. TR is comparable to APK towing.
Donald Heresford December 04, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I live(d) in Lavallette: 1) I haven't seen the whole town; access is still fairly restricted but on my street (beach block) there was very little damage. This was largely due to the town's building code, that specified that all houses had to be built on pilings and elevated off the sand by 5-7 feet. The Lavallette Post Office serves areas outside the town and so people are used to referring to areas outside Lavallette as being in-town when they're not. I've no doubt some homeowners suffered great damage in-town but I haven't seen it myself. Mostly, it looks like it always did. 2. Toms River has been nothing but a huge PITA through this whole process: restricting access to Lavallette. Whereas the police in Lavallette understood that people hadn't seen their homes in three weeks when we finally got to go back, TR Police barked orders, made threats and were generally rude a-holes. I feel for TR island residents but I have to say I hate your town's administration and police. 3. I really doubt that people in Lavallette will want to look houses in Ortley but I'm sure the risk can be mitigated by restricting repopulation to year-round residents and keeping checkpoints/curfews in place. I want to go home. This storm has upturned my entire life, is hurting me financially and is costing the gov't money (being housed by FEMA now.) I'm sorry that TR and Seaside are run by incompetents but my town isn't. I've got electric, water, cable and will have gas by Friday. It's time!
shorefriend December 05, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Donald, do you mind if I run an extension cord from your house to mine in Ortley? LOL


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