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Doesn’t Care How Much Money He’s Got To Spend,

Has To Have Pavilions Back Again.

Sandy Took Them All,

Plus He Wants A Banquet Hall.

So Our Mayor, He Wrote Us A Letter.


I guess the mayor wants his letter to be as widely read as possible, evidenced by the fact that it versions of it appeared in the Coast Star, the Patch, and in a (taxpayer-funded) mailer.  In case any of you are living under a rock and missed it in one of those venues, I present the version of it that appeared in the Patch and in the (taxpayer-funded) mailer with the additional benefit of my astute observations and clarifications (in blue italics.)

Dear Friend,

I hope you and your family are having an enjoyable and safe summer.  After Sandy and the rough winter we had, our community certainly deserves to have a long summer filled with fun.  We have come so far, and should be proud of what we have accomplished together so I want to thank everyone for pulling together as strongly as we have since Sandy.  So far no problem.

Unfortunately, we still have friends and neighbors that are displaced from their homes, so if you have not had an opportunity to donate, you can still help by making a contribution at our website,  Every dollar contributed goes directly to help a family in need.  No it doesn’t.  It goes from the donor to Matt, and then to the beneficiary. If it went directly from the donor to the beneficiary it would be a beautiful thing.  When a politician acts as the middleman, it’s a lot less beautiful.  I can assure you we will keep working until every family in Belmar is back in their own home.


From the day of the storm until now, the borough has been working every day to not only get people back in their homes and make sure businesses get up and running again, but also to make sure the look and feel of our beloved Belmar returns as much as possible to what it was before the storm.  So why does he want to change everything?  Nobody would be objecting if he simply replaced what was lost in the storm.  Working together we have made significant strides, but we still have much work to do to fully restore our town and provide a long-lasting legacy for our children.


I would like to take a few minutes of your time to update you on what we have focused on since Sandy and the next steps we intend to take to continue moving Belmar forward.  Over the course of our daily lives I have the good fortune to run into many of you and discuss the borough’s future face to face, while others attend council meetings, call the borough or e-mail me directly.  I appreciate that direct feedback and want you to know the Borough Council and I all take it under strict consideration every step of the way.  So why is he resisting having a referendum?  These next weeks and months will be pivotal for the long-term future of Belmar and the potential for misinformation can only serve as a setback so I appreciate your taking the time to allow me to lay out the next steps we intend to take in Belmar’s post-Sandy recovery.


The Belmar Boardwalk recovery project was the first post-storm project in the state.  We chose that project not only because it is part of the character of our town but also because of its importance to Belmar’s 140 small businesses that depend on tourism.  I think that 140 number represents all of Belmar’s small businesses.  I don’t think dry-cleaners, auto repair shops, opticians, self-storage facilities or lumber yards are patronized much by tourists.  Generally it’s only the bars, liquor stores and restaurants that see the benefit.  They get the money.  We get the noise, the traffic, the parkers and the litter.  Besides, people come for the beach, not the boardwalk.  (For the record, I was NOT against building a new boardwalk.  I do think though that if we had taken a little more time, we could have had a much better boardwalk.  And it ended up raining the entire month of June anyway.)    


Once we made the decision to move forward and prioritize the Boardwalk, we were able to capitalize on our partnership with FEMA and the overwhelming support of the public at large through the buy-a-board campaign, allowing us to rebuild using less than $400,000 in funding from the Beach Utility and $0 from Belmar property taxpayers.  Our “partnership” with FEMA was no more special than any of the other towns in the area.  They all were reimbursed too, many of them getting their money back long before we did.  Over $9,600,000 from FEMA and $727,000 from the buy-a-board campaign.  Anyone see a verb here?


By restoring the Boardwalk in time for the summer we were able to speed up the borough’s recovery as a whole both symbolically and financially.  Maybe symbolically (politicians love symbolism because it frees them of the need for concrete results), but not financially.  Like I said, it rained a lot in June and the beach utility was way behind in revenues as of the end of that month.  The aggressive (bordering on reckless) nature of that project and the expedited timetable required to get it done were significant challenges, but we met, and even exceeded, those goals.  We took great pride in the fact that we were able to marshal local, state and federal resources and the result of all of us working together was a model effort praised by local, state and county officials, both Democrat and Republican.  Generally, when I see one politician being praised by a bunch of other politicians it makes me think he must be no good.


The financial stability provided as a result of efficient planning and near unanimous cooperation throughout the borough on the Boardwalk recovery project has put us into position to move on to the next step in our recovery . . . the beachfront pavilions.  The “financial stability” was provided courtesy of the American taxpayer.  And their “efficient planning” resulted in a $1.4 million change order with an   ever   evolving   explanation  for it.


Like the boardwalk, the pavilions are a part of the character of our town.  It is important that they are rebuilt, and improved where possible.  We have been very careful throughout this entire rebuilding process to make sure your voice has been our driving force and, because of the feedback we have heard from residents like you, we have scaled back the original plans and are now only moving forward with the Taylor Pavilion and the 10th Ave Pavilion.  This has nothing to do with listening to the public.  Not one person said to build FEWER buildings.  They all said to build SMALLER buildings.  The mayor dropped the idea of building an 8th Ave pavilion because there was no money for it.  Saying he’s bowing to public opinion is pure spin.

These two pavilions are vitally important to our community symbolically, financially and for public safety purposes, and their reconstruction will not present us with a financial burden.  Debatable, to say the least.


The old Taylor Pavilion held many community events, and the new Taylor Pavilion will be able to accommodate even more.  Public forums, elementary school events, senior events, Boy & Girl Scouts functions and so many others will always have a home in Belmar and the reconstructed Taylor Pavilion will serve as that home.  The 10th Ave Pavilion will house our public safety entities that are necessary to providing a safe environment for families on the beachfront.  Both buildings will be paid for and financed through federal or state grants along with beach badge revenues.  I doubt we are going to get any significant amount of outside funding for this.  Plus, is it really moral to force Americans who might live 200 or even 2000 miles from here to pay for us to have a banquet hall?  Like the Boardwalk project, no property taxes will be used to build these two pavilions.  He can’t say that with such absolute certainty.  If beach revenues fall short, the property tax payer is on the hook.  The bond ordinance to pay for the project specifically says: “The full faith and credit of the Borough are hereby pledged to the punctual payment of the principal of and the interest on the obligations authorized by this bond ordinance.  The obligations shall be direct, unlimited obligations of the Borough, and the Borough shall be obligated to levy ad valorem taxes upon all the taxable real property within the Borough for the payment of the obligations and the interest thereon without limitation of rate or amount.”  We take pride in not raising Belmar resident’s property taxes over the past three years and will work hard to ensure a fourth consecutive year with the same outcome.  Belmar’s debt has increased every year for the past three years.


There are a few very important items I want you to know about the proposed pavilions;

1)         Zero property tax dollars will be used to build them;

2)         The pavilions are designed for the residents of Belmar and future generations as well;  1) and 2) contradict each other.  If the pavilion is going to be predominantly used by Belmar residents, the state will not allow us to use beach revenues to pay for it.  And the next big storm might obviate any future generation’s chance of ever even seeing this thing (except maybe in old photographs.)

3)         There is a great deal of misinformation and rumor regarding these buildings.  While they will most certainly be built to present day standards and flood elevations, the top of the building heights are only approximately 10’ – 14’ higher than those that Sandy took from us.  The new designs are not the overwhelmingly tall structures that a certain element in town has claimed.  But the new elevations along with the extra 14 feet for the second floor will make the new Taylor much taller than the old one overall.  The great “misinformation” he refers to is only something like 4 or 5 feet.  And is he allowed to use taxpayer dollars to call some residents of town a “certain element”?


I want to thank all nine (Democrat) members of the Belmar Beachfront Advisory Committee including Councilman Brian Magovern, Ed Windas, Suzanne Anan, William Young, Merry Brennan, John Hutchinson, William Luddecke, Judy Rokoszak and Mark Fitzgerald.  They all worked tirelessly since January and held eight public meetings that included architects, engineers, and residents of Belmar.  I attended two of the meetings and both times so many members of the committee were absent that they could just barely make a quorum.  I’ve heard rumors that some who disagreed with the mayor’s big plan stopped going because they were being ignored anyway.

I can say for sure that if you like the new boardwalk, you are going to love the new pavilions.  I, for one, think the boardwalk could have been much better.  If we had been a little more patient we could have used the beautiful and durable ipe wood, and it would have been nice to incorporate bike lanes into the plans.  Check out the new designs at and let me know what you think at  Positive comments only please.


Thank you again for everything you have done as a community.  Except that Jim Bean guy. Belmar truly is a great place to live, (agreed ) and I am honored to be your mayor.  Thank you and enjoy the rest of your summer,

Matthew J. Doherty



  1. Teddy Ehmann wrote:

    I guess everyone west of Main St. is chopped liver ie we don’t count. No mailers received here. Nothing new however, the Mayor paid policemen to drop a flyer regarding ideas and improvements planed for Mclearie Park two years now to only those west of Main.
    So let me get this right. If you pay taxes and or live in Belmar, if you live west of Main, you have no say or interest in the beach. Correspondingly, if you live east of Main you have no say or interest in the Shark River area. Thank you Mayor for helping me sort out my interests and priorities.

    Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Guest wrote:

    I didn’t get a mailer either. I also live west of main st.

    Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
  3. Karen wrote:

    Live on Maplewood Road. Did not receive mailer.

    Monday, August 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
  4. Teddy Ehmann wrote:

    Well, I guess the mayor is listening. Today, everyone got a second mailer. Colleen Connolly is working hard sending 5000 letters and envelopes @ 46 cents a pop. All I can say is nothing is false, nothing is true ALL IS MISLEADING.It will take a lot more than this to convince us that the emporer has clothes.

    Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

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