By John Burton
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS — The borough’s municipal harbor at “99.99 percent up and running” was good enough for officials on the federal, state, county and local level to declare success and dedicate it on Friday.
Officials and a considerable turnout of well-wishers gathered for the formal dedication of the restored harbor, which was dramatically damaged by Super Storm Sandy last October.
Mayor Frederick J. Rast III said at “99.9 percent up and running,” with only a very few minor punch list items left to finish, he declared it completed and noted it was a remarkable achievement given how hard “our harbor got whacked” by Sandy.
The overall project cost approximately $20 million, according to borough administrator Adam Hubeny. Thankfully, for the borough, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to reimburse the borough for 90 percent of the costs.
“In the aftermath of the storm it was so upsetting to see all the damage,” that occurred at the harbor, said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who, local officials of both parties said, was instrumental in securing the needed funding to restore the facility.
Many noted the harbor’s importance to not only the local community, but to the entire region and state, pointing out that the harbor serves vital economic and security interests, “for the whole East Coast,” Pallone said.
With its completion, “I believe this will be the premier harbor on the entire Eastern seaboard,” said Jane Frotton, chair of the borough’s harbor commission.
Recognizing its importance, the borough council, working with the harbor commission, shortly after the storm bonded the money to get the project under way as quickly as possible, Hubeny said. The harbor is an important resource for the community generating approximately $1 million a year from its fees for its docking of about 500 vessels annually, its launching fees, as well as having a mooring field to accommodate 172 sailboats, Hubeny said.
The site is also home to SeaStreak commuter ferry service.
The harbor had begun operations on a rolling basis starting in late June, Hubeny said.
The project has won two awards, said David Marks, borough engineer, winning project of the year awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, New Jersey Chapter, and from the New Jersey Society of Civil Engineers.