AVON DECLARED A GHOST TOWN(partially)
By TRUDY CAPOMAN staff writer
AVON – Decaying merchandise sits behind dusty display cases. The storefront windows of abandoned businesses stare out at a deserted Main Street. Prime parking spots beckon to be used but find no takers. Tumbleweeds now meander freely where pedestrians and business patrons once trod.
The section of Avon-By-The-Sea that lies south of Sylvania Avenue has joined the ranks of such places as Centralia, Pennsylvania; Bodie, California; Oatman, Arizona; Medicine Mound, Texas and even New Jersey‘s own Ong’s Hat…it has been officially declared a ghost town.
The closure of the Main Street bridge that connects Avon with Belmar so that it may undergo repairs has resulted in a complete lack of vehicular traffic in Avon’s business district. This, in turn, has caused the economic engine that drove the downtown area to completely collapse. Like dominos, one small business after another has fallen victim to the “rehabilitation” of the bridge.
“They swore it wouldn’t be like this,” said a former Avon business owner who wished to remain anonymous, …“they assured us that the impact would be minimal. Just look at it! Minimal, my ass! Rehabilitate the bridge? Who‘s going to rehabilitate the town!”
The “they” being the New Jersey Department of Transportation who masterminded the glacial-paced repair job on the bridge and declined to comment for this story.
While the bridge closure has devastated the town of Avon, it has been an absolute boon for the union workers employed on the bridge. At a time when unemployment in New Jersey is nearly ten percent, these workers are flush with cash from the project.
As one welder told us, “This is freakin’ great! I hope this job never ends! Thanks to the Main Street bridge, I was able to buy a new boat and take the family skiing in Europe for the holidays.”
Another worker commented, “We’re following the lead of those who worked on the Route 35 bridge years ago. They set the bar pretty high as to how long a cash cow like this can be milked. We’re determined to break their record for feeding at the public teat.”
He continued, “ Yeah, some stores may bite the dust in the process, but hey, that’s the law of the jungle, right? The strong survive, the weak die. If they can’t handle something like this, they deserved to go under. They had their chance to make money and they blew it, now it’s our turn and God willing, this will last a long, long time.”
Another worker, who also wished to remain anonymous, offered a solution to the situation, “What this town needs is a tunnel. That’s right, a tunnel. Go under the inlet instead of over it. If they had a tunnel we wouldn’t have to listen to all the whining cry babies around here…that crap is gettin’ old. And, you know what? We’re just the guys to build it. Hell, we could knock that puppy off in no time…4 or 5 years, no problem. And just think, no one will ever have to wait for an open bridge again…or a closed one for that matter.” His co-workers seemed to be unanimous in their approval of this idea.
Despite the valiant efforts of local business owners to get some form of relief from their elected officials before things worsened to the point of no return, the only assistance they were able to elicit was the erection of a few signs around town (see photo) that indicated that Avon was still open for business.
“Far too little, far too late” remarked Avon resident, Mitch Nagleson. “It’s a joke, an insult. It’s always the same, the ones who make the decisions about this sort of thing always make decisions that don’t affect themselves…not one of those SOB’s live here.”
Looking for ways to replace the lost income, the Avon town council is considering promoting the town as a tourist destination…the only ghost town in America with lifeguards.