New Jersey OKs permit to rebuild storm-hit amusement park

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Owners of an historic amusement park on the New Jersey shore badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 have been given a permit to rebuild, state authorities said on Monday.

The Casino Pier amusement park is seen destroyed in this aerial view over Seaside Heights, New Jersey, almost a month after the area was hit by Hurricane Sandy, November 28, 2012. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, first opened in 1932, was wrecked by the storm that hammered northeastern U.S. coastal areas and caused billions of dollars in damage. One of the more memorable images of the devastation was of the park’s Skyride roller coaster partly submerged in the Atlantic Ocean.

The permit issued on July 15 by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection allows the roller coaster to be rebuilt and the pier to be partly relocated, a department spokesman said.

Plans for reconstruction include swapping public land for a piece of property north of the new building area now owned by the Storino family who own the park, Borough of Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz said.

While the borough can begin installing new pilings for the pier now, final approval of the land swap is not likely before the end of the year, an attorney for the borough said.

“We are at a standstill until the land swap agreement is finalized with the state and the town,” said Maria Mastoris, marketing manager for Casino Pier.

Mastoris declined to comment on the rebuilding budget.

Casino Pier was purchased by the Storinos in 2002, according to the company’s website.

“It is an estimate, but they (Casino Pier) are going to spend anywhere between $20 million and $40 million to rebuild. That includes construction and land,” Vaz said.

As part of the deal, Casino Pier would transfer to Seaside Heights ownership of a 105-year-old carousel featuring hand-carved horses that is worth from $1.5 to $2.0 million, Vaz said.

Editing by Eric Walsh