Beach Haven West Residents Complain About Mill Creek Pavilion, Want Code Enforcement Crackdown

Sep 28, 2016

Beach Haven West residents continue to voice their grievances with regard to the design plans for the Mill Creek Pavilion, insisting they want and deserve a facility comparable to what they had prior to Superstorm Sandy, complete with an oven and stovetop range. The town is saying no, citing insurance and maintenance liability. The pavilion won’t be built until the Bay Avenue Community Center is finished and the town pursues reimbursement funds from FEMA and then uses that money to engineer and finalize the plans and build the Mill Creek building.

The Beach Haven West Civic Association’s Richie Gilchrist heads a citizens committee dedicated to keeping the town leaders on task on the community center project. But some council members were dissatisfied with a recent meeting between said committee and Mayor John Spodofora and Councilman Alan Smith, according to letters exchanged afterward.

At the Sept. 13 council meeting, civic association President Dawn Papatheodorou publicly questioned the council, asking who exactly was dissatisfied, and why. Spodofora said subsequent “arguments” were uncalled for.

“This is the first we’re hearing that you’re not going to give us an oven in the kitchen, and I’m really not happy about it,” Papatheodorou said. “We really want the oven, and I don’t know what we’re going to have to do.”

In a separate matter, some Beach Haven West residents feel they should have their own code enforcement officer, but Spodofora said, “I personally do not feel I need to assign a person just to work on Beach Haven West.”

Township Administrator James Moran looked at the statistics for the Beach Haven West section of the 50-square-mile town. In the last three years, the town has recorded 692 new homes have been built, which amounts to seven to 10 inspections per home; 566 demolitions; 582 raisings, multiple inspections with each; in all, some 2,000 zoning permits issued. Since January, 290 zoning complaints have been answered in Beach Haven West alone.

“Certainly we are doing a very active and effective job in Beach Haven West,” Moran said. “It would take an army” of code enforcers to police all 4,000 homes on a daily basis, he added. More than 30 “abandoned” homes have been removed in the last six months, he added, and Stafford is working with the state on a potential hazard mitigation project to raise additional houses.

The attention given to Beach Haven West doesn’t come cheaply. In the last three years, according to Moran, the town has spent $2,750,000 in water, sewer, and road paving projects; improvements to Mill Creek Park totaling $75,000, sewer for $1.2 million, the water plant at $100,000, a new bulkhead for $800,000, and millions more in other repaving and water tower upgrades. All told, the list he read contained $15 million worth of work, making up the bulk of the town’s capital budget in that time period.

“I think our guys have been doing a phenomenal job keeping up with everything,” Spodofora said, explaining threats to public health and safety take priority over cosmetic issues. 

— Victoria Ford

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