A Jersey shore town has abandoned its plans to use tropical rain forest wood to rebuild a boardwalk destroyed by Sandy.
Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty announced the decision Tuesday, saying officials in the Monmouth County community had decided the municipal government should avoid a protracted legal battle with environmentalists.
The town wants to have the new boardwalk completed in time for the summer tourism season, and some groups had threatened to seek an injunction that could have postponed the work for up to two months.
"I cannot stress enough that the only reason we are not using ipe (wood) is because our town and small business owners cannot endure a delay of the boardwalk being completed in time for Memorial Day," Doherty told the Asbury Park Press (http://on.app.com/SiUsjF).
Belmar had awarded a $6.6 million contract last month to a company to provide the ipe wood for the project. Plans to resume use of that species of tropical hardwood on the Ocean City boardwalk in 2007 touched off a furor that led to the city canceling its order and paying nearly $1 million in damages to a lumber company.
Ipe has proven popular with coastal communities who use it in their boardwalks. It looks good, lasts for decades and can support the weight of a police car or fire engine, not to mention thousands of people.
But the trend is upsetting environmentalists, who favor boardwalks made with synthetic materials or wood from trees that didn't grow in endangered areas. They fear that in the rush to rebuild damaged boardwalks — and there are many along the Jersey shore — towns will cast environmental concerns aside.