Two New Jersey shore towns affected by a massive fire that destroyed parts of their boardwalks and dozens of businesses last month have jointly hired a contractor to do demolition and cleanup work.
Seaside Park and Seaside Heights officials agreed this week to hire South Toms River-based Eagle Paving Corp. The company will receive roughly $4.7 million for the work, which should get started sometime next week and take up to 60 days to complete.
Due to the emergency nature of the cleanup, state officials allowed the towns to skip a closed bidding process and instead allowed them to seek quotes. Two of the four interested firms proposed a lower cost than Eagle Paving, but officials felt the bids were too low for the job to be done well.
"They definitely underestimated the job,'' Seaside Heights administrator John Camera told the Asbury Park Press, noting that just dropping off the debris at a landfill is estimated to cost $1 million.
The bids received for the work ranged from $979,000 to $6.34 million, officials said. The newspaper said Eagle Paving is run by Bill Majors, who also runs FunTown Pier, the amusement pier that was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy and lost what was left in the Sept. 12 boardwalk fire.
The devastated boardwalk area has been closed since the fire to keep people from entering the unsafe site, but authorities say it has become an attractive nuisance, so police have been stationed there to keep people away.
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.