After being twice denied funding from FEMA before finally getting $2.4 million on their second appeal, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association re-opened their boardwalk to the public today with a ceremonial ribbon cutting lead by Governor Chris Christie, Congressman Chris Smith, Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, Neptune Township Mayor Dr. Michael Brantley and Dr. Dale C. Whilden, President of the OGCMA.
“Today is truly a great day for Ocean Grove, Neptune Township, Monmouth County, and the Jersey Shore, and a critical step forward in our recovery from Sandy,” said Smith.”This boardwalk is an integral part of Ocean Grove the neighboring Jersey Shore community, a fact we reinforced during our efforts to reverse FEMA’s original decision at the local level—and yet another at the regional level—to deny critical funding.”
“With unrelenting determination and teamwork, we brought the case to critical decision makers in Washington, holding meetings with FEMA in my congressional office. On the second appeal, a skillful oral presentation given to FEMA by Ocean Grove leaders left no doubt as to the boardwalk’s important emergency and public health and safety function—resulting in FEMA’s reversal,”continued Smith.
“Not long after the Storm I visited the boardwalk, and vividly remember the total devastation all around. Dr. Whilden, J.P Gradone, Bill Bailey, Ralph DelCampo and all those with OGCMA deserve great credit for their tenacity and tireless efforts to rebuild and restore the Ocean Grove community and boardwalk.”
FEMA originally deemed OGCMA ineligible for federal assistance as a private, nonprofit entity, despite facts to the contrary. Following the denial, Smith helped lead an effort with OGCMA leadership, Governor Chris Christie’s office, and in particular, NJ “Sandy Czar,” Mark Ferzan, Neptune Township and Ocean Grove’s state legislators—State Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande and Mary Pat Angelini—to petition the federal agency in Washington to reverse its decision.
“This is a very exciting day for shore residents, the reopening of the Ocean Grove boardwalk is a significant step forward in our recovery from Sandy,”said Beck, “I worked closely with Ocean Grove officials and FEMA representatives through the application process and the numerous appeals. In the end, FEMA did the right thing and awarded Ocean Grove the aid needed to rebuild. Governor Chris Christie must be applauded for his leadership and dedication to Ocean Grove in ensuring the boardwalk was rebuilt. All New Jerseyans are the beneficiaries of this outcome. This boardwalk is truly a landmark and will now again be a beach destination for generations to come. I am proud to join