Demolition under way after Seaside Park boardwalk fire

October 7, 2013 2:48:19 PM PDT
Demolition and cleanup work is set to begin this week along a Jersey shore boardwalk where a fire destroyed dozens of businesses.

Seaside Park and Seaside Heights officials have agreed to hire South Toms River-based Eagle Paving Corp. roughly $4.7 million for the work.

The two towns plan to build a temporary dune to protect the shore line in the area where the debris is until new development begins.

Authorities blamed Sandy for damaging electrical wiring that sparked the fire in Seaside.

It's all coming down now, nothing but rubble and twisted burned metal, but still it's hard for residents.

"The boardwalk was where we all came, it's sad, very sad," said Michelle Tortorelli, a Toms River resident.

"So many memories, bringing the kids and the grandkids down, now its concrete blocks," said Lisa Hewson, a Seaside Heights resident.

Seaside Heights Original Steak and Clam Bar, was at the heart of co-owner Corrado Spinosa's dreams.

"I've been here since I came from Italy," Spinosa said.

He was just in the midst of buying it outright, when the fire happened.

"I'm going to come back. If they let me lease again, I want the same spot," Spinosa said.

The owner of what was once the Funtown Pier is also the man with Eagle Paving Corp. contracted to take it all down, with many companies working with him to try to keep a tight deadline.

"It feels good. We want to help these people get back on their feet. It's one disaster after another one," said Tom Tedesco, a contractor.

John Spadavecchia owns a restaurant in Ortley Beach and has stayed open past the season to feed the contractors here.

"All winter you see nobody, summer comes, you see 50 people you know, meet you at the boardwalk, meet you at the arcade," Spadavecchia said.

As people with heartstrings and financial investments tied to this place look to the future, many also look to an unfortunate reality that still exists for so many families.

"There are many people who are still not in their homes," said Michael Hewson, a Seaside Heights resident.

There are many dreams and needs still unfulfilled.

(Some information from the Associated Press)