BELMAR, NJ — After a nearly five-year absence from Belmar’s beachfront, the Taylor Pavilion is back — bigger and stronger than before.
The new facility, which replaces the pavilion that was destroyed in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, was officially opened yesterday, May 1. Several hundred people attended the ribbon-cutting and reception, including the event’s most-significant VIP — Doris Taylor, the 99-year-old wife of the late John Taylor, the former Belmar mayor after whom the building is named.
Surrounded by elected officials and family members, Mrs. Taylor was given the honor of cutting the ceremonial blue-and-white ribbon atop the stairs of the building’s expansive entrance, bringing a generous round of applause from those gathered on the boardwalk, sidewalk and street below.
“This is a milestone event for Belmar, the Jersey Shore and the entire state of New Jersey,” said Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty. “A building has stood on this site for 125 years before Superstorm Sandy. Today, we rededicate this pavilion to John Taylor.”
Cheryl Schaak, granddaughter of Mrs. Taylor, spoke of how her grandmother enjoyed going to the pavilion after her grandfather died in 2001. He served as Belmar mayor from 1967 to 1979.
“Since Superstorm Sandy it’s left a void for my grandmother, our family and for Belmar,” she said. “No one is more thrilled than my grandmother to have the pavilion back.”
Belmar officials were joined at the podium by three members of New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation — Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, and Rep. Frank Pallone, 6th Dist. While Doherty credited the lawmakers for their advocacy in helping Belmar secure $2.6 million in federal funding for the project, they each spoke of the steadfast determination and persistence of Belmar officials in getting the job done.
“The (new) Taylor pavilion will be as resilient as this community was after the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy,” Sen. Menendez said. “There is no better place to be than in Belmar and at this opening, just in time for summer.
Characterizing New Jersey as the “Comeback State,” Sen. Booker said the pavilion speaks to “the strength of Jersey folks. It’s written in our DNA … This ribbon-cutting is a testament to that spirit.”
Rep. Pallone, who represented Belmar for 20 years before congressional redistricting, called the Taylor Pavilion “a special place in Belmar, located between (Silver) lake and the ocean. It had to be rebuilt,” he said. “The Jersey Shore is important to us and to the state. It’s what many people think of when they think of New Jersey.”
After the formal portion of the morning’s event, many attendees got their first look inside the 6,800-square-foot facility, where “A Taste of Belmar” reception featured offerings from a variety of Belmar restaurants and live music by the Danny White Band.
There was also a colorful spread of food provided by Merri-Makers, the Edison-based catering company that will operate the food concession at Taylor Pavilion. For CEO Rick Bott, the new opportunity is a renaissance for him as well. He lost his Merri-Makers at Water’s Edge facility in Sea Bright to Superstorm Sandy. Now he’s back on the oceanfront — a bit farther south in Belmar — ready to open Cruz Bay Café. As he quipped during the ribbon-cutting: “I always wanted to sell hot dogs on the beach.”
In addition to that concession, the Taylor Pavilion houses Belmar’s beachfront operations, and event and meeting space.
In January 2016, the Belmar Mayor and Council awarded a $5.45 million contract to Epic Construction of Piscataway to rebuild both the Taylor Pavilion at Fifth Avenue and the Howard Rowland Public Safety Pavilion at 10th Avenue, which is in the final stage of completion.
Regarding their resiliency, both pavilions have been erected to “V-Zone” construction standards utilizing concrete-filled steel piles and are at an elevation of BFE +3 (approximately 5 feet above the existing boardwalk), according to the borough.
Epic also constructed Belmar’s boardwalk in 2013 — the first major infrastructure project to commence at the Jersey Shore in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.