Longport not smiling about uncompleted paint job

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Longport is seeking to return the trademark smiley face and slogan “Longport the best port” to the borough water tower. Longport is seeking to return the trademark smiley face and slogan “Longport the best port” to the borough water tower.

LONGPORT – The borough has lost its face. The smiley face on its landmark water tower, that is.

The smiley face that adorned the water tower and has served as a borough trademark along with the slogan “Longport the best port” for more than 30 years have yet to be replaced after the tower was repainted last year.

Mayor Nick Russo said the repainting job has been a disappointing process.

Longport is in a dispute with the contractor, Beckett Enterprises of Malaga, and when that is resolved, the happy face will be back on the side of the tower, the mayor said Tuesday, May 14.

“Many people, not only from Longport but from the entire Downbeach community, keep asking when is the happy face going back on the water tower. The happy face has become our signature,” the mayor said.

City solicitor Pat Pat Agnellini has been in contact with the bonding company about the uncompleted the project.

The borough commissioners awarded a $599,500 contract to Beckett Enterprises July 6, 2011 for the job.

The unfinished work was a topic at the Dec. 5 Borough Commission meeting, which was attended by company representative Elmer Beckett, who cited numerous hardships it has had since starting the job.

“We completed all the sandblasting, the intermediate coat is fully done, and the final coat is fully done,” Beckett told the commissioners at the Dec. 5 work session meeting.

“All we need to do is put the logo on it and some repairs to make on the anchors, pull the containment beams off the top – but it was windy today so it should be done tomorrow. We are pretty much wrapping it up other than getting the logos back up.”

The commissioners agreed to give Beckett approximately half of the $107,000 balance for the project.

Russo said the commissioners agreed to give Beckett a portion of the funds since it was represented to them that the business had hardships.

“We showed our displeasure of the timeline and things not being done in a timely fashion, and we had some other issues with sandblasting material that got on residents’ cars and property,” he said. “I just cannot believe this individual has not completed this project to our satisfaction.”

Russo said this week that the city is holding approximately $52,000 of the original contract.

“We have not released that money and we certainly have no intention of releasing the remainder of the money until this project is completed, and we feel now the bonding company is responsible,” he said.

Russo concluded with a smile, “Hopefully this will have a happy ending.”

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