The Long Branch boardwalk will likely have a different look once it is rebuilt by the city.
Upcoming FEMA regulations and a desire for the boardwalk to not suffer the same fate from a future storm as it did from Hurricane Sandy may force the city's hand in building a new type of boardwalk, city officials discussed during Tuesday night's council meeting.
"Our concern is that if we build it back in the condition it was in prior to the storm, we're inviting a disaster," Long Branch Business Administrator Howard Woolley said. "We're inviting it to be destroyed if and when there is another storm of this magnitude."
"The intelligent thing to do is to build it possibly at a higher level with a more secure method of construction, but we don't have all those details now," Woolley continued.
Much of the city's boardwalk south of Pier Village was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. The Pier Village portion of the boardwalk and the Promenade, which is made of concrete, survived mostly intact.
"The boardwalk in Pier Village held because there was a release point underneath which allowed the water to come up and come under," Woolley said. "It took out some stairs and it took out some bricks, but the boardwalk held."
"We're looking at possibly going to that elevation, possibly moving it out to give it that release point," he said. "There's a lot of different things we're looking at in possible design for this moving forward. We want to build it in a fashion that it's going to be resilient and durable the next time a storm comes and hits us."
Councilman John Pallone asked if wood was the cheapest material available to rebuild the boardwalk. Woolley said it is, but that the city is also looking at Trex, a wood-alternative decking and railing material.
Woolley said new FEMA flood plain regulations will also play a part in what type of design the city selects for its boardwalk.
"We have to see how these FEMA regulations that are going to come out, impact this, because were we to build it and not comply with these rules, FEMA is going to say 'you're on your own, next time out something happens, we're not going to help you with it'," Woolley said.
Pallone asked if Applied Development, the engineering firm that will be building the third phase of Pier Village, will wait to see the FEMA regulations before finalizing it's boardwalk designs. Woolley said city representatives met with Applied Development and that they will take the requirements into account before moving forward.
"They were going to elevate it and it was going to be similar to the boardwalk they have there now," Woolley said.
Long Branch Office of Emergency Management Coordinator said FEMA will help fund the city's replacement of the boardwalk and a percentage of any changes it chooses to make.
He said the city is still compiling the damage estimates for the boardwalk.
Woolley said the city's commitment, regardless of what design it chooses for the boardwalk, is to have access to all the city's beaches this summer.
"Our commitment is that even if we don't have a boardwalk, we will have beach access where we had beach access before," he said.