It's a Christmas miracle.
The Point Beach Council, on the recommendation of the mayor, voted unanimously Tuesday night for a compromise with Jenkinson's that calls for rescinding the early bar closing ordinance and revising the parking plan in exchange for Jenkinson's to drop lawsuits against those measures and to pay up to $1 million towards boardwalk repair expenses.
Councilmember Michael Corbally was absent.
Mayor Vincent Barrella announced in the early portion of Tuesday night's meeting that he and Municipal Business Administrator Chris Riehl had met a few times with Jenkinson's representatives, including two meetings last week with Pat, Anthony and Frank Storino, who have owned Jenkinson's, since 1976, that led to the agreement.
Unlike many such private meetings during the past year, there were no lawyers representing the town or Jenkinson's present at the last two meetings.
Later in the Tuesday night council meeting, shortly after 9:20 p.m., council voted unanimously to accept the terms of the agreement.
Now the council needs to adopt an ordinance rescinding the early bar closing ordinance, said Barrella, adding he expects to have that on an agenda of the first regular council meeting in January.
Anthony Storino, Jenkinson's president, and Ed McGlynn, the company's attorney, were at Tuesday night's council meeting and confirmed the terms of the agreement.
"Thank you" said Anthony Storino, in a rare public statement to the mayor and council, before the council voted. "We're starting the New Year off on the right foot."
Barrella, in turn, thanked Storino.
"Please thank your father, uncle and brother," Barrella said, referring to the other Storinos who are principals of the company. Barrella said he had been particularly happy that Jenkinson's proposed helping to pay for boardwalk repairs.
The agreement pertains only to Jenkinson's and not to which is still litigating against the earlier bar closing (which will now be a moot point) and the parking plan.
"I talked to Dave and Scott Bassinder, but I couldn't get them on board" to drop their lawsuit against the parking plan, said Barrella, who had met with Dave Bassinder, the former owner of Martell's, and Scott, his son and current owner of Martell's. "Maybe they'll be on board."
Councilmember Kristine Tooker said she's happy with the agreement and commended the mayor and Jenkinson's for reaching the compromise.
"Kudos to the mayor and Jenk's," she said. "We've all wanted this, peace in our time," she said laughing.
"I really encourage the Bassinders to get on board," Tooker said.
"There are people who say the mayor doesn't support tourism, but he does, he met with them and he worked this out," Tooker said.
Regarding the boardwalk repairs, Jenkinson's has agreed to reimburse the town up to $1 million, over a 20 year period, for any expenses to repair and replace Sandy-damaged boardwalk that is not reimbursed through state aid or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The parking plan, which was in place only during the summer, prohibited overnight parking on all municipally-owned roads in District 4.
Barrella said he expects council to revise the parking plan and then pass a new measure calling for it to be put back in place for next summer.
He said there may be sections of District 4 that are exempted from the plan and there may be sections of District 3 that are added to the plan, but no specifics were discussed Tuesday night. That will be the subject of future council discussions.
McGlynn said to the mayor and council, "In your minds and in the citizens' minds, the parking plan worked. You gave us your word that you won't be expanding the parking plan."
Barrella also said he will recommend to council that any new, revised parking plan start at 12:30 p.m, instead of midnight, which was the starting time for this past summer's parking plan.
Barrella and McGlynn agreed Tuesday night that the wreckage left in Sandy's wake was an impetus in meeting and reaching an agreement.
When asked outside the meeting why Jenkinson's is willing to drop its lawsuit against the parking plan, McGlynn said, "There was a give and take on both sides. Out of adversity always comes some good. Maybe both sides can start with a clean slate and work together for the betterment of the Beach.
"The negotiations have nothing to do with what was right, wrong, good or bad," McGlynn said. "This storm devastated this community and it's time for all of us to put this behind us and to work towards solving the problems that exist."
When asked if the two sides would likely have reached an agreement had Sandy never happened, McGlynn said, "I don't know. If there had been an agreement, it would have been much different circumstances and reached at a much later time than now."
Anthony Storino said the top priority for Jenkinson's is to bring back the town, as well as the company and its properties.
"We're working with the town to get it 100 percent back," he said. "We have to put in 110 percent effort to help homeowners and the community to get the town back to 100 percent.
"As residents and good neighbors, we want to work with the town to do that," Storino said.
McGlynn said as long as council supports the agreement, Jenkinson's will drop its three lawsuits against the earlier bar closing and the parking plan.
Storino and McGlynn also complimented the town's elected and appointed officials and the Public Works Department in cleaning up the remains of Sandy.
"What a miraculous job by mayor, council and public works in cleaning up and stabilizing the town," McGlynn said.
"They had it done in a month," Storino said, emphatically.
Storino said he expects Jenkinson's to be fully operational by Easter weekend, when it expects to hold its half price ride ticket sales and Easter egg hunt as in past years.
Why is Jenkinson's willing to help pay for boardwalk repairs?
"That started with discussions with the mayor, Vincent Storino (Pat Storino's brother, as well as other Storinos), on Nov. 21," McGlynn said. "That began discussions to try to get rid of the contentiousness which has existed between the mayor, council and Jenkinson's, the largest tax payer in town, to get things heading in a different direction."
Is this a Christmas miracle?
"It's a miracle at 416 New Jersey Avenue instead of Miracle on 34th Street!" McGlynn said, laughing.
Barrella said that any resurrection of the parking plan will still include the municipal lot on Arnold and Ocean avenues, known as the Silver Lake lot, to have free parking from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
In other business, the council's organization meeting will be at 1 p.m. Jan. 5.