By JOHN T. WARD
Sea Bright voters gave landslide approval Tuesday to a plan to rebuild every public structure wiped out by Sandy.
In a special election on a trio of bonding actions taken by the borough council in June, voters by a 2-1 margin backed the plan, which would put two sizable new structures with a combined price tag of $12.73 million at the edge of the municipal beach.
The vote in favor of building an 8,600-square-foot community center and library passed, 340-169; the result on a bond for a beach utility building was 340-168; and a 14,000-square-foot municipal building to house borough administrative offices, the fire department and police won approval by more than 68 percent of the voters, 348-162, according to figures published by the Monmouth County Clerk.
Councilman Brian Kelly, who has spearheaded the plan, said he was relieved by the outcome, which was uncertain going into Tuesday. Proponents feared defeat of the bonds could mean the loss of an anticipated $7.4 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and set the rebuilding effort back to square one.
The vote result, Kelly said, means that the administration of Mayor Dina Long can resume work on the plan that was stalled by the referendum. Construction could begin as early as next spring, Kelly said.
John Lamia, one of two councilmen who strongly opposed the project on fiscal grounds — the other was Councilman Jack Keeler — told redbankgreen he was satisfied with the outcome.
His objective in backing the referendum, he said, was to give voters information he thought had been denied them going into the bond vote, and to allow them to have their say.
Now, with Tuesday’s vote, “the people did get to weigh in, and said it’s OK to spend this money,” Lamia said. “That’s the system. So now let’s move on.”
Though the two buildings have been estimated to cost a combined $12.73 million, proponents said the true cost to the town would be $5.3 million after accounting for FEMA money and other offsets.
Here’s the plan: Sea Bright Public Facilities Plan.