Almost three years after Super storm Sandy completely destroyed the Sandy Hook Bay Marina in Highlands, construction is underway to rebuild it bigger and better than before, according to owner Jim Bollerman.

Sandy Hook Bay/photo by Dianne DeOliveira, TSM News

"It has been a very turbulent three years, but we are excited about bringing Sandy Hook Bay Marina back to its very prominent status in the boating community," said Bollerman.

The marina was built in 1963 and Bollerman admitted, there was a brief time where he considered not moving forward with the redevelopment program.

"I remember walking out  the day after Super storm Sandy hit, and looking around, and just looking at the utter devastation and obliteration of buildings all over the property. It was very discouraging in the sense that it's an enormous amount of work to do; on the other hand, I kind of said to myself, there's a real opportunity here to reconstruct and create a rebirth of Sandy Hook Bay Marina, and update the facilities and really take it to another level."

The ambitious reconstruction program is being made possible with a federal grant and years of working cooperatively with the various levels of federal, state, county and local governments to achieve the necessary approvals, according to Bollerman.

Upon completion, the marina will be deemed a "Safe Harbor" with the ability to sustain up to a category 2 Hurricane. It will feature 130 slips with deep water access, a full service restaurant and Captain's bar, swimming pool, Ship's store and more.

"We were selected for a National Boating Infrastructure Grant Program, and the award is given to marinas that can demonstrate in the application process, environmental sensitivity, a position in the market place which would enable us in the market place to attract transient boaters, because that is the primary focus of the infrastructure grant," said Bollerman.

The project is considered one of the largest private investment reconstruction projects post-Sandy. Bollerman said upwards of $40 million in private capital has been invested so far.

"The marinas contribute an enormous amount of economic activity to the shore communities," Bollerman said. He added, "The marina business is an important economic driver, particularly in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, but for New Jersey in its entirety."