Seaside Heights Mayor Says Coaster Would Make a Great Tourist Attraction
Seaside Heights–With his devastated seaside town still essentially under martial law with no plan on when residents can start returning to their homes, Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers said in an exclusive interview with Philadelphia’s NBC affiliate, he is working with the Coast Guard to leave the iconic JetStar roller coaster in the ocean.
The coaster, which once sat atop the Casino Pier amusement park now sits a few hundred feet off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It has been the iconic symbol of the devastation Sandy delivered here in Ocean County and across New Jersey. It was even featured on the cover of People Magazine.
According to the report, Akers says it would make “a great tourist attraction.”
Within minutes of this story being reported on our facebook page, nearly two hundred local residents disagreed with the Mayor.
Some of our readers said the coaster should be taken down because it will remind locals of the bad memories that came with Hurricane Sandy.
“I do not know why the Seaside Mayor would want to keep something that would bring so many bad memories to all of us that have lost our homes and do not know what to do and where to go,” said Pat Unice, ”What type of tourist attraction? Who would it bring here? Just to make money–for who– let the people look back on memories–that’s what we have to do about our things we lost.”
“Can’t believe the suggestion was even made,” said Suzanne Pilozo. ”People are cleaning up what’s left of their homes and the mayor is concerned with tourist attractions? Why doesn’t leadership look for serious, constructive ways to clean up Seaside?”
“I think that they should remove that roller coaster from the water,” said Janell Dilcher, of Brick, “we see the devastation to it through pictures. Why keep it there for people to see up close and be unsafe? “I think it’s ridiculous to keep it there.”
Others were concerned about safety to beach goers, swimmers and surfers in the future. Many commented about the risk of pieces breaking off in the pounding Atlantic Ocean surf and the potential for people to want to climb the structure. ”
Laraine Sgroi countered Akers’ request with logical business advice for the tourism economy in the borough. “Reminding tourist of how much damage a hurricane can do at the shore isn’t a good idea for commerce,” she said.
Some lashed out with criticism of the Mayor. ”I’m wondering why a mayor would make comments about a tourist attraction while his city is in ruins, the infrastructure is destroyed, families are homeless,” said Roger Hetel of Garfield, “What could he possibly be thinking?”
The calls to keep the coaster where it is were few, but present. Readers say the coaster should stay as a reminder of the destructive nature of hurricanes and some say they would like to see it as a reminder to children to be able to tell the stories of Sandy to future generations.
Some ideas presented, suggested the borough should instead take remnants of the coaster and other attractions and open up a museum if the borough wanted to draw tourism interest from the disaster.
The prospect of an insurance company covering liability on such an attraction does not seem likely.
On Tuesday, we interviewed Vincent Storino, land owner of the Casino Pier and asked him if the coaster could possibly be left where it is and he told us it would be very highly unlikely due to safety and insurance reasons. ”It can’t stay, it has to come out,” Storino said.
Multiple calls to Akers’ office over the past three week have not been returned.
The photo above, taken 4 days after the hurricane, demonstrates a weakened and twisted structure on the first and highest drop of the roller coaster.
You can read the hundreds of other comments and join in on the conversation on our facebook page.