It's hard to see the improvement at Casino Pier following its destruction at the hands of Hurricane Sandy. But, it's what you don't see that let's you know work is being done.
The Seaside Heights attraction is nearly empty. All of the amusements and rides that remained on the pier following Sandy have been taken down, piece-by-piece, and carted away, some to storage, some to the scrap yard.
The log flume, half of it having fallen into the ocean, is gone. The Wild Mouse rollercoaster has been taken down and hauled away. The buildings that housed concessions and games have been torn down. A few remnants remain, including the Jet Star coaster, still sitting in the water.
Soon, that will be gone too.
It's stark right now; the pier is almost completely empty save for a few scattered piles of debris and equipment. Now is when the rebuilding can begin.
Toby Wolf, marketing director for Jenkinson's, said anywhere from a few to two dozen workers have called the pier and its adjacent Casino Arcade home for the past few months, working on various projects in hopes of getting the pier and arcade open by this summer.
Tentatively, Wolf said ownership is hoping to open the property by May, in line with the expected completion of the Seaside Heights boardwalk reconstruction. A definitive timetable is hard to process, however. In some cases, damage at Casino Pier and Arcade is still being assessed, though progress is still being made.
Soon, crews will start to replace pilings beneath the pier. Then they'll start to replace boards and the portion of the pier that fell into the ocean during Sandy's onslaught. Once the pier is rebuilt and sound, then the amusements will start to roll back in.
For now, the pier is empty, splintered and cracked in spots, with holes scattered throughout its surface. It's ugly, but it's progress.