By WIL FULTON
Before Hurricane Sandy, Sea Brights downtown bus shelter, elaborately painted to resemble a typical beach-front bungalow, was one of the little things that gave the shore community an indelible sense of character and charm.
Post-Sandy, however, all that remains of the decorated stop is a bit of faux flooring on a slab of broken concrete, with the rest of the structure washed away into oblivion.
Fortunately for Sea Bright straphangers, thats about to change.
Sea Bright Rising, a charity group that arose in the storm’s aftermath to aid the ailing community, is planning to rebuild the Ocean Avenue shelter and restore it to visual glory with help from artist Megan Heath Gilhool.
Were waiting for the go-ahead from the state,” because the stop is on a state highway, said Chris Wood, owner of Woodys Ocean Grille and a prime force behind Sea Bright Rising. “But were committed to bringing it back as close as we can to the original version, Wood told redbankgreen Thursday.
People really enjoyed the stop before its character, the added element it gave the town. So we want to make the new one literally as close as possible, he added. The decorations done by Megan were very detailed, and a great reflection of the community and our residents.
An interior trompe l’oeil mural, which Gilhool completed in late 2011, turned the ordinary shack that covered the stops waiting bench into what resembled a beachside home, complete with a virtual a bookshelf, a cat Buster, Gilhool called him and a sofa.
Wood estimates that the new project shouldnt cost more than $4,000, a number he called “a shot in the dark,” and hopes that local vendors such as Bains Hardware, which provided the paint free of charge for the original mural, will also help with the restoration.
According to Wood, the bus shelter restoration is part of the third prong of Sea Bright Risings three-prong plan, consisting of aiding residents, business owners, and now, the boroughs infrastructure. Wood also said that Sea Bright Rising is committed to replacing lifeguard stands, the boroughs marquee announcement board originally located in front of Woodys and looking into restoring the business districts benches.
We want to do anything we can to help beautify the town, Wood said, and we consider the bus stop to be an important part of it.