ON THE GREEN: FILM TRACKS SANDY RECOVERY

Here’s the trailer to “After Sandy,” a new film made over the past three years by Middetown resident Joe Minnella to document the rebuilding efforts at the Jersey shore in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Minnella and Anthony Jude Setaro of Red Bank, who produced the film, are alumni of Red Bank Catholic High School.

To view the full  100-minute film, click “like” at the “After Sandy” Facebook page and you’ll receive a link to the film page at 8 p.m. on Thursday. The film will be available for viewing until 8 p.m Friday. (Click to enlarge)

 

SEA BRIGHT: DIVE RESURFACES

christine diiorio 070114Christina Di Iorio outside her Ocean Avenue bar and restaurant, which reopens Wednesday afternoon. Below, her husband, Steven Graniero. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

steven graniero 070114To be honest, Christina Di Iorio says, she got to the point where she didn’t want to reopen Dive, the Sea Bright restaurant and bar that she and then-fiancé Steven Graniero saw nearly wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.

Their insurance company hadn’t lived up to its obligations, she said. A vendor was suing them, and they weren’t able to get any traction with the government or private lenders to restart the Ocean Avenue business. And then there’s the hard reality of two bodies of water – the Atlantic Ocean and the Shrewsbury River – just yards away, all too ready to combine forces to once again smash the town as they did on October 29, 2012.

And yet there Di Iorio was on Tuesday, putting the final touches on a completely revamped Dive for a low-key opening at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“I agree with you: I think we’re nuts,” she told redbankgreen. “But our clients, our families, our fan base – they all embraced us. I’m doing it for them.”

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SEA BRIGHT: FISH EATERY NOW OPEN

sb fish co 063014The impressive comeback of the hurricane-damaged three-story building at 1054 Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright continues with the soft opening of last Thursday of Sea Bright Fish Company, a restaurant and fish market owned by four members of the Diomede family. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: PUTTING A BUILDING BACK IN BIZ

christina galinos 052014Christina Galinas outside the Ocean Avenue building she brought back to life. Below, Katy Fraggos, who’s opening a dance-based workout studio on the third floor. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

katy fraggos 052014 2There’s been no shortage of notable comebacks from Hurricane Sandy in Sea Bright, starting with the front-end loaders that tackled six feet of sand on Ocean Avenue a day after the storm.

The recovery marked a milestone six weeks later with the lightning-fast reopening of Bain’s Hardware, which like every other store and restaurant in this oceanfront town was knocked offline by Sandy. And since then, more than a dozen businesses, some of them new, have added to the downtown’s revival.

Nineteen months later, the saga continues, with the reopening in coming weeks of a three-story building that has lined up two tenants brand new to town: a seafood restaurant and a fitness studio.

BONUS: SEE THE PHOTO TOUR OF A BLOCK IN RECOVERY AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE

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RUMSON: EMERGENCY REPORTED AT OXFORD

oxford house 121713Oxford House on South Ward Avenue at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A medical emergency at Oxford House, the controversial addiction recovery residence that opened in Rumson without public notice in August, had neighbors buzzing about a possible second overdose there Tuesday.

Police Chief Scot Patterson tells redbankgreen that paramedics were called to the house on South Ward Avenue sometime after 5:30 a.m. on a report of an unresponsive person inside. Paterson said he did not know the nature of the emergency.

“All I know is that when the person left, he was alive and being treated by paramedics,” Paterson said.

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RUMSON: OXFORD HOUSE REACHES OUT

61 so ward rumson 101413“Not the best mix” of residents formed the initial population at the Oxford House when it opened in Rumson in August, a facility official told neighbors Tuesday night. One of the residents died of a drug overdose. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02The addiction-recovery residence that popped up unannounced in a quiet Rumson neighborhood this summer “did not get off to a good start,” an official with the organization that sponsors the facility told residents Tuesday night.

“We haven’t been good neighbors,” said George Kent, a regional manager with Oxford House, “and I take full responsibility for that.”

Standing at a lectern in the nave of St. George’s by the River Episcopal Church just a block from the Oxford House on South Ward Avenue, Kent fielded sometimes hostile questions from about 40 residents of the West Park neighborhood, hoping to establish a dialogue in the aftermath of a drug overdose death at the house.

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RUMSON: OXFORD REHAB HOUSE SPARKS IRE

rumson council 102213An overflow crowd jammed Rumson’s council chambers to air concerns about an addiction recovery house in town. Below, Barbara Russell returns to her seat after speaking with borough Attorney Marty Barger. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

barger russell 102213Rumson residents packed a borough meeting Tuesday night to demand action regarding Oxford House, an addiction-recovery residence where a tenant died of a suspected drug overdose 10 days ago.

Seated on the floor and standing in the hallway outside the bimonthly meeting of the town’s governing body, neighbors teed up Oxford House for setting up a residence at 61 South Ward Avenue without notice and for a self-governance model they say isn’t working.

“They’re sitting on the porch and they are drinking,” in violation of Oxford’s own bylaws governing locally chartered houses, Washington Avenue resident Barbara Russell said of the house’s nine residents.

Having recently completed alcohol and drug treatment programs and then allowed to live together without supervision, Oxford’s young clients are naturally “going to come out and have a party,” said Russell, who described herself as a recovering alcoholic for 26 years.

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RUMSON: REHAB HOUSE FOCUS OF COMPLAINTS

61 so ward rumson 101413The Rumson house where a man was found dead of a suspected drug overdose Sunday quietly became an addiction recovery residence in August, neighbors say. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Nestled in a quiet Rumson neighborhood still recovering from floodwaters that tore through a year ago, the grey house at the corner of South Ward and Washington avenues stands out, towering over its neighbors.

It also stands out as the subject of complaints to the police.

“They party all the time,” a neighbor who asked not to be identified said of the home’s occupants. “They are up all night. Partying on the front porch. Running through the neighborhood.”

Sunday evening, though, the police were at the house for another reason: looking into the death of one of its residents from a purported drug overdose.

To the surprise of many in this affluent community, the house turns be a drug- and alcohol-rehab residence.

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SEA BRIGHT: RISK-TAKERS FLOODING TOWN

Antonio Murray, above, opened Beach Burgers and Grille on Tuesday. Below, Billy Geltzeiler with server Greer McCarthy at Billy G’s Beach Bistro. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Store by store, restaurant by restaurant, the old-timers are coming back to Sea Bright, a town where not one was spared the trauma of Hurricane Sandy.

From Angler’s Marina to Yumi, from Woody’s Ocean Grille to Northshore Menswear to Bain’s Hardware,  merchants have restarted their businesses as quickly as their bank balances would allow. Others are in the process of renovating. Expect Gracie & the Dudes to return shortly. Ditto for the the 7-Eleven.

But within this returning tide is a second wave: newcomers to Ocean Avenue business district. Risk-takers willing to stake their livelihoods, and their life savings, on the chance that the Shrewsbury River and the Atlantic Ocean won’t again meet in the places their renting. Not soon, at least.

Last week, redbankgreen introduced you to Alice Gaffney, a former school cafeteria cook who opened Alice’s Kitchen in the space long occupied by Steve’s Breakfast & Lunch. Here’s a look at three more newcomers – owners of a full-service restaurant, a burger place and a surf shop.

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SEA BRIGHT BEGINS LOOKING TO 2020

Borough residents at Monday night’s 2020 session, where FEMA planner Linda Weber, below, took notes. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The scene: a public brainstorming session at Sea Bright’s borough hall.

The purpose: to begin shaping what’s expected to be a long-range process to address housing and commercial needs both in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and in anticipation of another such walloping.

With the floor opened to observations, one woman raised concerns about vacant homes attracting prowlers.

A man’s suggestion that all the utility poles along Ocean Avenue be removed drew a smattering of applause.

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SEA BRIGHT: FEMA TAKING THE LONG VIEW

The long-term revitalization of the downtown is expected to be among the topics addressed by FEMA-organized teams. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is about to make its presence known in a big way to Sea Bright, officials said Thursday night.

Through a Community Recovery Assistance program being launched in the storm-battered beachside borough, FEMA plans to inject trained professionals to help locals guide their own long-term recovery.

Two representatives from the program were present at Thursday night’s mayor and council workshop meeting – Linda Weber, a professional planner, and T.W. Theodore, Recovery Task Force Lead – to lay out some of their plans for Sea Bright’s recovery.

“The idea is that we want to help you in any way we can,” Weber said, “to help the community move closer and closer towards your recovery, to take some of the work off your table and put it onto ours.”

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SEA BRIGHT: ANOTHER RESTAURANT REOPENS

Yumi restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright is now back in business, adding to the growing list of stores coming back on line in the hurricane-battered borough. The eatery features sushi and “neo-Asian” cuisine. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT, RISING, KICKS OFF SUMMER 2013

Beneath a cloudless sky, Sea Bright snapped back to life as a beach destination Monday, Memorial Day, seven months after Hurricane Sandy all but obliterated its downtown and oceanfront beach clubs.

One, Chapel Beach Club, above, boasted its restoration was “Done,” while work continued at the Valkryrie Squash Club. Elsewhere, beachgoers happily made due with less than full amenities. 

redbankgreen covered much of the town on foot Monday to see how things were going. We’ve got a dozen more photos after the jump… (Click to enlarge)

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CHRISTMAS IN SEA BRIGHT

Heartwarming update on Sea Bright’s effort to recover from Hurricane Sandy. The video is  by Montclair State student Noah Smith, who also produced one last month on the challenges faced by business owners in town. (Thanks to Debbie Galant of the New Jersey News Commons for passing this along.) (Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT BRACES FOR MORE, ONLY LESS

A comfort tent has been set up for personnel manning the blockade on the Rumson side of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

It looked like Sandy Redux on the west side of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge in Rumson early Wednesday afternoon, as police and National Guard blockaded the already battered ocean community of Sea Bright with a mixture of snow and sleet already falling steadily.

Though the power of an approaching northeaster isn’t expected to carry anything near the destructive force of Hurricane Sandy, the resulting damage could be worse than usual because of its proximity to last weeks’ superstorm, particularly in ravaged communities like Sea Bright trying to pick up the pieces, officials there worry.

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AGOSTINO, T. BERRY SQUARE PACKING IT IN

Agostino Antique’s home, at 21 Broad, is expected to have a new owner soon. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Downtown Red Bank’s economic recovery is not without its setbacks, as evidenced by two imminent departures from Broad Street.

After months of advertising a clearance sale, Agostino Antiques is planning to pack up its remaining merchandise in the next couple of weeks and shut its doors by the end of June, a principal in the company tells redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

Just two blocks to the south, Jennifer Quinn Payne is winding down her children’s clothing and furnishings store , T. Berry Square, to devote herself to motherhood.

Meanwhile, two doors away from T. Berry, and under the same roof, Hip & Humble Home has a for-lease sign in the window, but they’re not talking.

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DOWNTOWN RED BANK COMES OFF THE ROPES

The recent opening of Lucki Clover, above, in a Broad Street space vacated last September, is seen as one of many indicators of a strengthening comeback.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Without question, the losses have been significant.

Over the past six months, as the global, national and regional economies have struggled to emerge from the wreckage of the 2008 credit meltdown, Red Bank’s retail market has continued to absorb hard-to-shake-off business departures.

Primas Home Cafe. Willy’s Cheesesteaks. Soapmarket. Later this month, Surray Luggage, a Broad Street fixture, will hold a liquidation sale.

But more so than in the recent past, the downtown real estate market has been marked by two noteworthy trends: faster refilling of storefronts, and the end of several key, longtime vacancies.

What’s it all add up to? In a word, recovery, says at least one downtown Churn watcher.

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