CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION’S SUPERSTORM SANDY BUYOUT PROGRAM MARKS MILESTONE WITH DEMOLITION OF FIRST SAYREVILLE HOMES
SHOWS CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO GET AT-RISK RESIDENTS OUT OF HARM’S WAY
(14/P17) TRENTON –A severely flood-damaged home in Sayreville today became the first structure to be demolished as part of the Christie Administration’s $300 million post-Superstorm Sandy buyout program, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced.
The home, located at 127 Weber Avenue, is the first of four demolitions scheduled this week in Sayreville. Sayreville and South River were the first municipalities targeted by the DEP’s Blue Acres program to purchase Sandy-damaged dwellings in flood-prone areas from willing sellers at pre-storm values, with the properties to be returned to open space.
Today’s demolition demonstrates our commitment to working through all phases of the Blue Acres Superstorm Sandy Program, to move families and property out of harm’s way and give them a chance to restore their lives,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “The action today is the final step in the process, returning these properties to a natural state to serve as buffers for future storms and flood events.”
So far, 171 property owners have accepted DEP buyout offers in Sayreville and South River, two Middlesex County municipalities that sustained significant flooding when Sandy’s storm surge pushed from Raritan Bay and into the South River. The DEP has closed on 50 of those homes, including those to be demolished this week.
The Weber Avenue property demolished today was the first home to be purchased as part of the Superstorm Sandy Blue Acres Program. It was owned by Theresa and Martin Kuczynski for 25 years. The Kuczynski family closed on the sale last October and has relocated to another home in Sayreville.
“We are glad to have had the opportunity to be a part of this buyout program because we were able to put this storm experience behind us and move on,” said Theresa Kuczynski, who along with her husband gave the signal today to work crews to start the demolition. “The process was long, but each individual really needs to work as close as possible with their Blue Acres’ case manager. It was the right decision for us, but each individual needs to decide what is in their best interest.”
The DEP has created a special team in its Blue Acres Program to work closely with sellers and process their applications as quickly as possible. The team reaches out to individual homeowners personally and guides them through the acquisition process.
In addition to today’s demolition, three homes on MacArthur Avenue, which runs parallel to Weber Avenue, are scheduled to be razed this week. Another 24 nearby homes in Sayreville are targeted for demolition in the near future.
“The demolition of these houses is, of course, very emotional for the people who for years called them home,” said Richard Boornazian, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources. “But it also marks progress in our continuing efforts to help these residents get a new start. We remain committed to assisting willing sellers as they go through the buyout process and helping them move on with their lives without having to worry about the next flooding event.”
The demolition contracts have been bid through the State Division of Property Management & Construction (DPMC).
The DEP is continuing to expand the Blue Acres Program in other Sandy flood-impacted communities. In addition to Sayreville and South River, the DEP has either secured funding or is targeting funding for potential buyouts in Woodbridge, East Brunswick, Newark and the Delaware Bay community of Lawrence Township.
The DEP also has engaged in dialogue with officials and residents in other Sandy impacted municipalities, such as Old Bridge, Linden, and another section of Woodbridge. These are being considered for a next round of buyouts using a recently announced second round of federal Sandy buyout dollars, once that funding gets formal federal approval.
This effort demonstrates significant progress toward the Administration’s goal of buying out 1,000 properties in tidal areas affected by Sandy and another 300 properties in other towns, such as Manville and communities in the Passaic River Basin, that have repeatedly flooded. The Blue Acres Superstorm Sandy Program was launched May 16, 2013.
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will provide 100 percent of the funding for buyouts in Sayreville and South River, plus a first round of Woodbridge buyouts. Additional federal funding to acquire other properties impacted by Superstorm Sandy is expected to be provided through the $1.46 billion second round of federal Community Disaster Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds allocated to New Jersey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Homeowners interested in selling their homes through this process may contact the DEP’s Blue Acres Program at (609) 984-0500.
To view a map of the four properties to be demolished this week, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/docs/sayreville-demo-map-20140310.pdf
For more information on the Blue Acres Program, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/greenacres/blue_flood_ac.html
For information on Sandy Recovery, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/