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Avon Mayor: Pavilion Lease Is Illegal

Avon Mayor Robert Mahon says the lease is illegal and Hurricane Sandy gave the town the cover it needed to terminate it

The lease between the borough of Avon and the owners of the Avon Pavilion was illegal, and Hurricane Sandy provided the town the impetus it needed to finally terminate it, Avon Mayor Robert Mahon said Monday.

At an afternoon workshop session of the Avon Board of Commissioners attended by an audience of about 70 mainly supporters of Rob Fishman, Avon Pavilion owner, Mahon interjected into a public comment period his reasons for making the controversial move a week ago.

But at Monday’s meeting, Mahon provided a different explanation on why the lease was terminated: It was simply illegal to have what he called a 25-year lease. State law, he said, allowed only 10 years.

“My problem with the lease is that it’s illegal,’’ he said. “We have been advised by more than one attorney that you can’t have a 25-year lease.”

Commissioner Frank Gorman emphatically agreed.

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Gorman said. “I am in lock-step with you sir.’’

The lease between the borough and Fishman has a term of five years, with two 10-year options thereafter. Fishman had three years left in his first option when the commissioners revoked it.

Numerous audience members — both Pavilion supporters and employees — called out the mayor and Gorman for revoking the Pavilion’s lease. Commissioner Robert McGovern cast the lone vote against.

“I am stunned by your remarks Mr. Mayor,’’ said Roger Domal, of Woodland Avenue. “I have no idea why you are terminating this lease, at this time. If you do not reverse this decision I’m pounding a ‘For Sale’ sign right out front and I’m getting out of town. This is terribly wrong.’’

About a dozen people spoke at the meeting during the public comment portion. Only one supported the Mahon and Gorman votes.

While some audience members questioned the timing of the lease termination, Mahon said the timing was “opportune, since the business cannot operate this summer.’’

Earlier in the meeting, the Commissioners discussed what, if any, amenities would be available on the boardwalk for the summertime crowds come Memorial Day. There was some lengthy discussion, but no clear direction, on what would be available, especially on the north end of the boardwalk where the Pavilion once stood.

Dennis Collins, Wall Township-based attorney for Fishman, said Mahon’s comments comprised “intellectually dishonest” discussion.

Collins said that the borough in a lawsuit brought by a third party just shy of two years ago defended Fishman’s lease as valid.

“And to stand here today, after superstorm Sandy and suggest that this is a good time for someone to tell you whether the lease is good or not – that ship sailed quite some time ago,’’ Collins said.

Collins last week notified the borough of his intent to sue if the commissioners did not reverse their decision to revoke the lease in a strongly worded letter. He reiterated that threat at Monday’s meeting.

The termination of the lease prompted swift action from legions of Pavilion supporters. An online petition was set up aimed at urging the Commissioners to reverse their decision. One week after setting up, the petition had more than 1,600 signatures.

Fishman, who attended Monday’s meeting, said he was still reeling from the Commissoners’ decision.

“I’m stunned,’’ Fishman said. “Just stunned.’’

florence ray February 05, 2013 at 10:51 PM
i cant believe what avon politics is doing to the avon pavillion they are a wonderful bunch of people and think of the college kids that worked there and now have no jobs how many people do u think will su pport the avon beach now with no facilities or a place to eat it was nice to walk up there in the evening for a ice cream and listen to the music kudos to the belmar mayor for helping his vendors BRING BACK THE FISHMAN FAMILY AND THE AVON PAVILLION they built that place up with his late parents they must be turning in their graves dont any of u have a conscience to see the good they bought to this town
jerry moore February 06, 2013 at 04:29 AM
If they're going to 'Set it Right' the currant lease term ends in 3 years, they're in the middle of a legal obligation now. What vendor or business is going to want to sign ANYTHING with Avon now, knowing they don't honor their obligations. What are they 'setting right' anyway? There is no mention of any fault by Mr. Fishman to honor any agreements, The Mayor & Councilman Gorman just decided to do what they want, for no viable reason, if there is such a reason they should make it known, Taxpayers are paying the bills & have every right to know what is being 'Set Right'. Mr. Gorman is in 'Lock Step' with the Mayor...'Lock Step' isn't that a term that was used in Nazi Germany...Just Saying... Karma will punish they're shenanigans.
jerseyswamps February 06, 2013 at 08:15 AM
Do you really expect the town to try this thing in the press? If Mr. Fishman was so wronged he'll do very well with the town paying for a new place built to HIS plans, attorney's fees, loss of business, etc.
Beach Bum February 11, 2013 at 12:15 AM
I have been going to the Avon beach with my family for 45 yrs. Each year the fees go up but we still return to Avon. If there is no Pavillion I am certain we will strongly consider another beach. By the way, if you do rebuild, you may want to consider adding on a few more bathrooms.
Mary Jo Alburtus May 19, 2013 at 06:17 PM
What goes around, comes around Avon needs to watch not to get too big for its britches.Whatever the ins and outs of the prior leases, the bottom line is that the Avon Pavilion brought many people to the boardwalk and the Fishmans became an integral part of summers in Avon. This all could have been handled in a more professional and respectful way between the parties but it sounds like a decision was made behind closed doors. .I,for one, may rethink the beach I sit on. For those of us who remember Skopas's in the 50's and 60's and the original and very ragtag building and business that it inhabited, I daresay, in contrast to the "swamp" guy who seems to think he knows so much, there is no doubt that the Fishman's additiions were clearly an asset.There are, in fact, restrooms, in the building along with a lovely boutique run by a family member.Perhaps there can be some improvements but why throw the baby out with the bathwater? And why is it that two politicians get to pronounce on something that the public is clearly telling them it feels differently about? One more sign of the hubris in politics these days.

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