NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP — 16 months after wind damaged a former hotel, neighbors are complaining that the only check-ins at the still-damaged building are rats and transients.

A cold front that pushed across the state on March 28, 2021 caused "significant structural damage" at the Neptune Motor Lodge on New York Avenue off Route 35. It was known at the time as America's Best Value Inn.

Pictures of the hotel show exposed walls on the upper levels, debris scattered around the parking lot and a small boat on a trailer. A part of the roof from the hotel lay across the street on Monday morning, according to photographer Bud McCormick.

The building sits unused and deteriorating, which upsets residents of Shark River Island. Residents met with staff from the office of state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-11th Legislative District, to express their frustration with what say is a lack of action by the township.

“We’re working with the town to address the tenant and the town is all over it. Our staff has been engaged and went out there last week," Gopal told New Jersey 101.5 in an email. "The conditions of the hotel are unacceptable and I am happy to see the town is taking the appropriate steps to remedy this. I thank the mayor and committee for being aggressive on this."

Damage to the America's Best Value Inn of Neptune City (Neptune Special Rescue Operations)
Damage to the America's Best Value Inn of Neptune City (Neptune Special Rescue Operations)

Some initial post-storm cleanup

Mayor Nick Williams said the owners of the building, Beena Halari Family Trust of Manalapan, initially worked with township code enforcement and construction departments but then stopped. Now the owners and the township seem headed for court.

"All members of the governing body are aware of the issues regarding the hotel and are doing everything legally allowable to address the conditions," Williams said.

Code enforcement has issued four violations. The township construction department has issued several violations, some of which have been addressed while some are being appealed, Williams said.

"It is anticipated that the owner will be in court in the near future to address some of the violations," Williams said.

The building has also been placed on the township's abandoned township list and could be headed for demolition.

"The hotel is amongst several properties in that area to have been designated in need of redevelopment. The township has been actively communicating with the property owners to get the redevelopment process moving, which would include demolition of the hotel," Williams said.

Damage to the America's Best Value Inn of Neptune City in March 2021
Damage to the America's Best Value Inn of Neptune City in March 2021 (Bud McCormick)

Rats and debris?

An area of disagreement between neighbors and Williams is the presence of garbage, which attracts rats. Steve Roberts told the Asbury Park Press that squatters are also staying in what's left of the rooms.

Williams said the township is unaware of any "significant issues" at the hotel.

"There have been no reports of debris in the water whatsoever and it is highly unlikely that this is occurring. There are no known hazardous materials nor contaminated items that could cause any type of pollution within the building nor being spread throughout the neighborhood," Williams said.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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