It's an amazing time for Belmar Jersey girl Justine Smith to be back, a block from the beach.
"It was devastating to see it all busted down, but to see these guys coming early in the morning working until after dark, doing their jobs, it's wonderful," Smith said.
There's an ambitious clock ticking. Belmar is determined to have its vital financial vein, its boardwalk, back by May 1st.
"All the businesses here are mom and pop, no corporations. It's important for them to have good summer months for their families and our economy," said Matt Doherty, Mayor of Belmar.
Work is on dawn to dusk. Next week they'll start sinking the pilings. The project is $6.6 million, about a third of what they thought.
The "Buy a Board Fundraiser" has raised nearly $250,000 so far, and seasonal beach badge sales are through the roof.
"So we take those three things into affect and we won't raise beach badge fees, and that's great news," Doherty said.
Belmar has opened summer along a boardwalk for 137 years straight.
"Without the boardwalk and beaches, we'd be hurting. There's a lot of people in the service industry, restaurants, a lot of people would be out of work," said David Pagella, a Belmar resident.
La Dolce Vita on Ocean Avenue is hanging on to the boardwalk bounce-back.
"It's been slow and steady. We're trying to make the best of it. We have a full crew, trying to keep everyone working, keep their lives as normal as possible," said Nocola Vuccilli, a restaurant owner.
They're optimists and that money pouring in is an even bigger inspiration for the town that wants to be the first to cut the ribbon on a new boardwalk.
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