The mayor and council of Sea Bright took to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Monday night to accommodate a crowd that would not have fit into the town’s borough hall. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)
By WIL FULTON
Stoked by concerns that their homes and businesses might not be rebuilt in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s extensive damage, dozens filled seats near the stage at Red Banks Count Basie Theatre to pepper elected officials with questions about everything from stray transformers to the fate of their town.
The meeting, ordinarily held in small room in Sea Bright, was moved to the ornate performance hall in order to accommodate the unusually large public turnout that two other post-storm meetings attracted to football fields in Rumson and West Long Branch.
While the majority of the meeting dealt with technical, financial and infrastructure aspects of the towns revitalization, a lengthy Q and A session gave residents a forum to vent their concerns and frustrations, as well as share their gratitude with the council and their ongoing efforts to put the community back on its feet.
A woman from the Fountains Townhouses provided the most controversial question of the night, when she confronted the council on an article published last week in the Wall Street Journal, which she read as suggesting that plans were in motion to level all of Sea Bright.
I can tell you right now, that is definitely not happening,” said Mayor Dina Long, almost before the woman had a chance to finish her sentence.
There will be a beach in Sea Bright this summer, I can promise you that,” added Councilman Reed Murphy. “Were going to be bigger and better than ever before. Were not going anywhere.
Long also commented that there would be no substantial arguments against rebuilding, and that the focus was now on building a sustainable community, hopefully one out of harm’s way.
Murphy went on to detail efforts to clean and reinstate sand to borough beaches, as well as the council’s decision to to continue with construction of the new beach pavilion, which officials hope to open on Memorial Day, a further sign that Sea Bright has no intention of leaving its community behind in Sandys wake.
A full-tilt design [for the pavilion] is definitely still underway, Murphy told redbankgreen after the meeting. And we plan to have it up and running on schedule. he added.
Also covered were the Thanksgiving dinner outreaches catered by local restaurateurs and other volunteers to ensure that no Sea Bright resident goes without a proper turkey dinner. Brennans Delicatessen in Rumson is providing a dinner at Fair Havens Raven and the Peach from 2 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, and David Burke’s Fromagerie will be serving food from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Sea Bright. Also, Holiday Express will also be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for Sea Bright residents from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gibbs Hall in Tinton Falls. More information and RSVP forms are provided on the Sea Bright Borough website.
As you can see, people genuinely want to help us,” said Councilwoman Peggy Bills, addressing the crowd with emotion apparent in her voice. We are truly loved.