SEA BRIGHT MAKING PROGRESS ON EYESORES

31-new-stThis vacant home on New Street is set to be demolished within a month, officials said. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mayor Maria Fernandes’s revived crusade to clean up or raze dilapidated buildings in Sea Bright is slowly paying dividends, she says.

But there’s still a long way to go, including the drafting of an ordinance that punishes negligent property owners — “slumlords,” she’s called them.

“There’s some more work that needs to be done,” said Fernandes, who resurrected the dilapidated buildings discussion two months ago, after it had been mothballed some years back.

Since directing outgoing borough Administrator Maryann Smeltzer to coordinate an effort with the code enforcement department identifying buildings in need of serious repair, and putting their owners on notice, one building, at 6 Peninsula Avenue, has already been demolished, Councilman Read Murphy said. Another, at 31 New Street, is set to come down within a month, he said.

“There’s been some forward movement on that,” Murphy said.

But of a building on River Street that was once home to the River Street School, he added, “it’s like talking to a wall with that one. But things are moving along.”

In April, Fernandes went on the offensive against owners of neglected property and pushed the council to draw up an ordinance to deal with them and their buildings accordingly. The borough culled a list of six properties in bad shape, which included a vacated Ocean Avenue building owned by mayoral candidate Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams.

The list may grow, too.

One resident at last week’s council meeting suggested that another building be added: the police station.

The council said the public is welcome to provide input on properties they feel qualify for dilapidated status.

Meantime, Fernandes, who has said she won’t seek re-election after her term as mayor expires at the end of the year, said she’ll pursue the issue until her time is up.

“This is not over. We have other buildings that are in very bad shape, too. We just have to be more proactive in that area,” she said. “It’s a slow process, but, you know, everything takes time.”