TOMS RIVER, NJ – I don’t personally know the owner of the former Ortley Beach Surf Club Joey Barcellona personally and I’ve lived in Ocean County nearly my entire life. You probably don’t personally know Joey Barcellona either, but according to Toms River Township Councilwoman Maria Maruca, who has been advocating an $8.8 million township, state, and county funded bailout of Barcellona’s destroyed Surf Club property in Ortyley Beach, everyone knows Joey Barcellona. The Surf Club property has sat abandoned for over eight years after being destroyed during Superstorm Sandy.
Maruca was questioned by Toms River resident Johnathan Salonis about her close relationship with Barcellona which she admitted she has with the family. Maruca did not deny her personal relationship with the Barcellona family at a contentious hearing of the Toms River Township council.
“Do you know the Barcellona family? Are you friends with the Barcellona who owns the Surf Club property?” Salonis asked.
“Yea, I know the Barcellona family,” Maruca replied. “I think anyone on Ortley Beach or on the island know the Barcellona family.”
Maruca lives off of Fischer Boulevard on the mainland in Toms River.
“That’s very interesting,” Salonis responded. “Is that why we’re overpaying for the Surf Club?”
Maruca said her relationship with Barcellona is irrelevant as she continues to lobby to raise $8.8 million necessary for Toms River Township to purchase the property from the family, which has an assessed value of just $1.9 million according to township records. The State of New Jersey has offered to pay Barcelona $6.3 million for the property, but according to the township, Barcellona wants $2 million more and Maruca wants the taxpayers of Toms River and Ocean County to make up the difference.
Councilman Daniel Rodrick on Tuesday said Barcellona should take the state offer of $6.3 million in Blue Acres funding and call it a day, otherwise try to sell the property on the open market, which has been unable to attract a serious buyer in the eight years since Superstorm Sandy.
Ocean County last week denied a measure by Maruca ally Virginia Haines to use county open space funds to make up the difference in a potentially illegal land purchase of already protected swampland in Toms River to be sold to the county for $2,000,000. The freeholders aren’t in the business of buying bridges in Brooklyn and they weren’t about to fund Maruca’s political campaign to bail out the Surf Club using mainland Toms River tax dollars to fund the purchase.
This report was inspired by our daily chewlo…a reminder of the corruption that exists at every level of government in Ocean County. Shore News Network will have the biggest media game in town on Thursday as another council member was called out for facilitating a $198,000 contract to a family member and more dysfunction at the Toms River Township council meeting on Tuesday.