Martell's will use a parking lot owned by Risden's as a storage and staging area for building materials and equipment to rebuild its Tiki Bar pier.
And the decision to use the lot between Trenton and Forman avenues was nearly final last Friday, even as Councilman Bret Gordon was changing his vote to allow Martell's to use a town-owned lot on New Jersey and Ocean avenues.
"The agreement is almost finalized," said Ronald Gasiorowski, Martell's attorney, in a telephone interview on Monday afternoon.
Gordon and Councilmembers Kristine Tooker and Michael Corbally voted no, while Councilmembers Stephen Reid and William Mayer voted yes. Councilmember Tim Lurie was absent and Mayor Vincent Barrella did not vote because he only gets a vote when there is a tie.
Those voting no said they couldn't bring themselves to do a favor for a business suing the town on multiple fronts and those voting yes said politics was interfering in the crucial need for business and town rebuilding in Sandy's aftermath.
Meanwhile, apparently unbeknownst to at least most of the elected officials and their constituents, Risden's and Martell's had already verbally agreed to Martell's using Risden's property to get building materials and equipment onto the beach and north to Martell's.
The plan calls for Martell's to use the lot on Forman Avenue, adjacent to the Risden's bathhouse, for storage for building materials and equipment and to access the beach on New York Avenue, where there is no boardwalk. The boardwalk begins one block north on New Jersey Avenue.
The parking lot Martell's will use runs in back of the bathhouse and also adjacent to Trenton Avenue. Gasiorowski said he was not sure if the lot next to Trenton will be used.
"Forman sounds familiar," he said.
Gasiorowski said that on Wednesday, the day after the council meeting when council voted against Martell's request, Alice Lyons, owner of Risden's, contacted him, offering him a potential option.
"She told me that when they do work on their beach, they enter on New York Avenue because on New Jersey Avenue there are pilings under the sand," Gasiorowski said. So contractors for Martell's will enter on New York Avenue, use the lot on Forman as a storage and staging area and use equipment to lift the building materials onto the beach, Gasiorowski said.
Lyons has said she does not wish to be interviewed.
Barrella said on Monday that Martell's never notified him that they had changed plans mid-week, not even when he phoned Martell's Manager Ed Brannagan on Friday afternoon to let him know there were enough council votes to allow Martell's to move on its original plan.
When asked why he did not notify the town, Gasiorowski said the mayor should have called him, David Bassinder, former owner of Martell's, or Scott Bassinder, current owner of Martells, instead of talking to Brannagan on Friday. Scott Bassinder was out of state late last week.
Patch called Gasiorowski on Friday to notify him of Gordon's vote change. Gasiorowski, at the time, said he had already seen Gordon's email to the mayor and council and had "no comment" on the news.
When Patch asked Gasiorowski if he had secured permission from Risden's to go onto their property on New Jersey Avenue, Gasiorowski said, "The owners of Risden's are lovely people, we're exploring that possibility. I have spoken to them and I'm confident we'll have something worked out."
He never mentioned that the "something" being worked out was the alternate plan to use the Forman Avenue lot owned by Risden's.
Why is that?
"I couldn't say anything then, because it wasn't finalized," Gasiorowski said. "It's only just today I received a letter from Risden's attorney. We're reducing this to writing and finalizing it."
Gasiorowski said during the council meeting and after the council's no vote that Martell's contractor had insisted that the "only" feasible entry point to move materials and equipment onto the beach was at New Jersey Avenue.
"At that time, we believed that to be so," Gasiorowski said on Monday. "It wasn't until Wednesday when Alice Lyons called me and told me that there are pilings under the sand on New Jersey, and that New York Avenue is where they access the beach, that I knew that. And possibly the contractor was wrong, I don't know."
When asked if Martell's has applied for any building permits to replace the end of the pier, Gasiorowski said, "That's not part of what I do. I don't know."
Patch had left a message for Scott Bassinder last Thursday but has not yet received a return call.
Barrella said the original request was in the form of a letter signed by David Bassinder asking for R. Kremer and Sons, Martell's contractor, to use the town-owned lot from Dec. 5 through 10. However, as of Tuesday (Dec. 4), Martell's had not applied for any building permits to rebuild the pier, Barrella said.
UPDATE: Martell's has not applied for a building permit to rebuild the end of its pier, said Michael Gardner, Point Beach Construction Official, late Thursday morning. He said as long as Martell's builds the same size pier that had been there prior to the storm, the state Department of Environmental Protection will not require them to obtain a new CAFRA (Coastal Area Facility Review Act) permit.