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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 16, 2014

Contact:  Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
                 Bob Considine (609) 984-1795
Joe Seldner (609) 777-4260

CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES FIRST POST-SUPERSTORM SANDY
BLUE ACRES BUYOUT IN EAST BRUNSWICK

PROGRAM CONTINUES TO HELP RESIDENTS MOVE OUT OF HARM’S WAY AND MAKE
FLOOD-PRONE AREAS MORE RESILIENT

(14/P100) TRENTON – The Christie Administration has completed the purchase of the first of seven flood-damaged homes in an East Brunswick neighborhood under its post-Superstorm Sandy Blue Acres buyout program, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.

The purchase of the home at 7 Squire Street makes East Brunswick the fourth municipality in the state where Sandy-related acquisitions have been made through the Blue Acres program as part of the Administration’s $300 million plan to move willing sellers out of repetitively flooded areas, and make flood-prone areas more resilient by creating buffers that will help protect communities against future floods.

The Blue Acres Program is working to purchase of 1,300 homes statewide – 1,000 damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 and 300 damaged by previous storms. The house was damaged by flooding from the South River, from both the remnants of Hurricane Irene in August 2011 and again by Sandy in October 2012.

“The Blue Acres buyout program is moving as quickly as possible to fulfill the Governor’s pledge to help residents in flood-prone neighborhoods move out of harm’s way and start over without having to live in fear of future flooding,” said Commissioner Martin. “As a result of this program, we are creating new tracts of permanent open space that will help absorb flood waters and protect our communities from future storms.”

The property purchased today is the first of seven identified for purchase in East Brunswick – all on Squire Street. It was owned by longtime resident Nancy Von Spreckelsen.  For many years, Von Spreckelsen lived at the house, located next door to the home where she was raised.

“I’m glad the state is able to acquire the property so I can now move away from all this flooding, but it will be sad because this was our home for so many years,” Von Sprecklesen said.

The home was purchased for $193,073. Like other homes acquired under the Blue Acres program, it was purchased at pre-Sandy market value based on an independent appraisal.

Because the Squire Street properties are part of a historic district listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, photo documentation and an oral history will be collected from residents, and the demolition contractor will be trained to identify cultural material that may be discovered during the demolition process.

“The Blue Acres process has worked out very well between the township and our partners in the state,” said East Brunswick Mayor David Stahl.

“Blue Acres has been great for the township and great for the residents,” added East Brunswick Municipal Administrator Jim White.

In total, 317 homeowners in five municipalities have so far accepted Blue Acres’ buyout offers. Of these, there have been 161 closings in three other municipalities - Sayreville, South River and Woodbridge.

The DEP also has made offers to homeowners in Newark, will be making offers in Lawrence Township, Cumberland County, in the fall, and is currently pursuing buyouts in Linden, Old Bridge, and Manville, and several other municipalities.

Additional federal funding to acquire other properties impacted by Superstorm Sandy will be provided through the $1.46 billion second round of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds allocated to New Jersey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The DEP has created a special post-Sandy Blue Acres team to work closely with willing sellers and process their buyout applications as quickly as possible. Case managers are working with individual homeowners personally to help personally guide them through the process.

The initial Blue Acres Program began in 1995, and purchased lands in floodways in the Delaware, Passaic and Raritan river basins, but was later expanded to include all state waters. Eligible properties are those that have been storm damaged, that are prone to incurring storm damage, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage.

Homeowners interested in selling their homes through this process may contact the DEP’s Blue Acres Program at 609-984-0500.

For more information on the Blue Acres Program, visit:http://www.state.nj.us/dep/greenacres/blue_flood_ac.html

For information on Sandy Recovery, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/

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