SEASIDE HEIGHTS - The owners of Casino Pier in Seaside Heights say they are one step closer to rebuilding after the state has given approval to drill pilings for the pier into the beach.
Casino Pier was devastated after Superstorm Sandy and a large fire several months later. The owners say that although this ruling is a step in the right direction, there are still other obstacles to overcome before construction can begin.
"We want to have more pier and a roller coaster," says Casino Pier spokeswoman Maria Mastrois. "We want to have a Ferris wheel to make people happy."
New Jersey officials say the pilings can be drilled into the beach on the north side of the existing pier. No rebuilding will be done over the water. The owners of Casino Pier want to swap land with Seaside Heights that would allow them to expand the width of the pier. The swap would involve the beach in exchange for a parking lot owned by Casino Pier.
The land swamp needs to be approved by a New Jersey state committee before it can be done. The committee won't meet until December.
"Right now we may be at a standstill, but we're trying to push everything along so we can start building," Mastoris says.
However, not everyone is in favor of the land swap. Steve Melvin, a co-owner of Three Brothers Pizza in town, started a Facebook page and fundraiser to try and stop the deal. He hopes the state will consider his argument before making a decision.
"This is our beach," he says. "It belongs to our kids, our children and our children's children. Nobody has the right to take it away from them or anybody else that comes here."
If approved, the land swap deal would also include giving the historic Casino Pier carousel to Seaside Heights.