A state program to buy out flood-prone homes will fund the acquisition and demolition of two West Grand Avenue properties near the Wheatena section of Rahway River Park.
The cost to acquire 182 W. Grand Ave. and 188 W. Grand Ave. and eventually demolish them is estimated at about $580,000, according to City Council President Samson Steinman, and will be covered primarily by the state’s Blue Acres program ($280,000) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ($230,000), with some from the homes’ flood insurance ($40,000).
182 W. Grand Ave. will be acquired for $167,500, and another $53,000 was budgeted for demolition and asbestos survey and abatement, and $20,000 for engineering and other preparation work. 182 W. Grand Ave. (Block 161, Lot 37) had a property tax bill of about $5,321 based on an assessment of $92,300. It last changed hands in March 2002 for $157,000, according to property records.
188 W. Grand Ave. will be acquired for $180,000, with $63,000 for demolition, etc., and $20,000 for engineering and other preparation work. 188 W. Grand Ave. (Block 161, Lot 36) is assessed at $125,700 and had a property tax bill of about $7,247.
Final costs and the state’s contribution are subject to factors such as appraisals and demolition costs, Steinman said. The state will handle the acquisition process for the city, as well as demolition, while the city eventually will maintain the property as open space. Once the offers to purchase are accepted and agreements signed, he said the acquisition process could take three to four months, followed by demolition and restoration.
City Council adopted a resolution at its July 9 that allows the state to acquire the parcels, along with a Memorandum of Understanding with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The state periodically accepts applications for properties to be acquired in the Rahway River Floodway and through negotiations with property owners, will undertake the acquisition of properties. New Jersey’s Blue Acres program received $48 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last summer.
“Properties that have been damaged or prone to incurring damage caused by storms or related flooding, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage,” are eligible for acquisition under Blue Acres, part of the state’s Green Acres program.
More than a decade ago, several homes along Central Avenue near the Rahway River were acquired and razed. Today, that area is home to the Rahway Community Garden, just off St. Georges Avenue.