Westwood Waiting on State Money For Home Buyouts
The Green Acres program pledged to pay about $500,000 for the borough to purchase flood-prone homes in addition to $1.5 million from FEMA.
Plans to purchase several flood-prone homes in Westwood are on hold until the borough receives $500,000 promised by the state's Green Acres program. The money is currently being held up pending approval from legislative committees, according to borough officials.
After Hurricane Irene caused major flooding in Westwood, FEMA promised to pay about $1.5 million to the borough for voluntary home buyouts. New Jersey's Green Acres program pledged about $500,000 for the plan, but the money still needs to be earmarked by the state. The combined total of $2,068,057 will be used to purchase up to nine homes, which will then be demolished.
The Westwood Council had been scheduled to pass a resolution Tuesday which would authorize the execution of the contract with FEMA, but council members said they did not want the borough to get stuck with the bill if the state money is late or never comes.
"It's too expensive to be done wrong," Councilman Peter Grefrath said.
Officials said they do still expect the state to follow through with the Green Acres money, but they will reach out to Westwood's state representatives for help expediting the process.
"Our goal is to have the funding in place," Mayor John Birkner said.
Once the borough has the money, appraisals and title searches will have to be performed for the flood-prone homes of residents who have expressed interest in selling.
FEMA set aside $21 million for flood mitigation projects in the state and New Jersey pledged another $7 million in support after Hurricane Irene hit the state last August.