SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) — The boardwalk where generations of families and teens got their first taste of the Jersey Shore and where the MTV reality show of the same name was filmed is about to be rebuilt following its destruction in Superstorm Sandy.
Seaside Heights on Wednesday night was awarded a $3.6 million contract to have the boardwalk rebuilt in time for Memorial Day weekend.
The walkway, one of the most popular and heavily used at the Jersey Shore, was destroyed in the late October storm, the state's worst natural disaster. Officials say it is the centerpiece of the borough's tourism industry, which funds 75 percent of its budget.
"A lot of people love Seaside and want to see what's happening this year," Mayor William Akers said. "If they don't come back, we don't eat."
Florence Birban, a 47-year resident, said the boardwalk means a lot to homeowners.
"We need a boardwalk here to bring in the revenue and keep our taxes from going up, hopefully," she said. "It just looks wrong without a boardwalk. I look up the street, and I don't see one, and it's not right."
The work should be done by May 10.
Seaside Heights was famous for generations as a summer destination for families, teens and young adults. It took on a new level of fame in recent years when MTV set its "Jersey Shore" reality show on the boardwalk, where a tipsy Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi tottered unsteadily and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino flexed his abs as cameras whirred.
The contract approved Wednesday just covers replacement of the boards and the substructure beneath it. Akers said a future contract will include ramps, railings and a protective sea wall.