A February 12 news story in Atlantic City Press raised questions about Money Island’s future by presenting information that seemed to conflict with other available information. Specifically, the article included a map of targeted buyout properties at Money Island that included commercial docks and a confirming video tape of Mayor Bob Campbell saying that he recently received a list of 57 buyout targets at Money Island that included the commercial docks.
Today I spoke with our case manager at NJDEP Blue Acres program for an update of the status of the buyouts for two residences formerly owned by the marina. This is a summary in bullet points of my notes from that conversation:
- Blue Acres is only interested in residential properties, not the commercial docks. He directly contradicts the information in the February 12 news report. I accept this update as a credible report since it agrees with all other information (other than the 2/12 news report).
- Blue Acres staff meets every other Monday and the political ‘oddities’ of Money Island have been discussed. Blue Acres staff feels they have a good understanding of the source and motivation of the misinformation reported in the news. The case manager did not further discuss his understanding of this issue.
- Blue Acres does not have funding to make offers on all 57 target residential properties at Money Island and makes no prediction as to when or if such additional offers will be made. However, the general tone and unstated presumption seems to be that eventually offers will be made for all residential properties at Money Island.
- Because 18 of the Money Island Marina properties that were previously offered to Blue Acres in 2012 were temporarily transferred to BaySave Corporation in 2013 for a price of $1 (for further transmittal to the state under the pre-Sandy sale/gift offer), state laws may now require that the buyout offer be limited to only $1 or current market price for the properties. Because the properties are financially “underwater”, meaning that the liabilities exceed the property value, this may deter or even kill any possibility of buyout being completed through Blue Acres.
- The post-Sandy FEMA fraud alleged by Downe Township Deputy Mayor and former Money Island resident Dennis Cook against Mayor Bob Campbell has not affected the Blue Acres buyout process yet but the case manager could not speculate as to whether it might have an effect on us if a legal case progresses.
- The buyout offers that are in progress at Money Island are “going well” according to the case manager. (I’ve noted elsewhere that the published statewide average success rate is that 80%+ of Blue Acres offers are accepted by homeowners).
- We had no discussion of individual properties or prices or the number of purchases completed.
- Blue Acres has no specific information on the status of other state agency activities (specifically related to the proposal to gift/leaseback the marina properties) except to be aware that these considerations were discussed.
- I expect to receive a communication from the legal team at Blue Acres regarding the next step.
In short, it seems that some of the residential buildings on Bayview Road at Money Island will soon be sold and demolished but the buyout process for the marina, marina workers’ housing, commercial docks, and the residences on parts of Nantuxent Drive is stalled indefinitely.
What does all of this mean to the marina and commercial businesses at Money Island? It simply means that we won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. But it does mean that it will be even more lonely and isolated here than its been in the past. We joke that our winter traffic rate on Bayview Road of one car per hour could drop to one per day!