Wesley Lake, an iconic symbol of both Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, is a gateway to both towns, even though each community is different in its style and personality.
The lake appeared in many early postcards as a lovely featured attraction for vacationers. It lived up to its promise because it was clean, filled with life, and safe for children to play in its calm waters.
Now it is languishing as a contaminated body of water resting on a blanket of polluted mud.
It stands as a monument to political incompetence. Does anyone care that we the people have been, and continue to be, denied the right to fully enjoy the lake for a variety of recreational uses?
After the Wesley Lake Commission was established to restore the lake, its condition has not improved. In fact, the lake died many years ago and it’s still getting worse because stormwater pollution keeps flowing into the lake. The pollution settles to the bottom and is absorbed into the mud, and no one is doing anything to stop it.
There is not even a conceptual plan by the commission to bring the lake back to life. Why does the commission allow the governing bodies of Neptune Twp. and A. Park to continue using the lake as a municipal facility to treat stormwater pollution?
And why in 2004 did the Township Committee change the name of Wesley Lake on the Tax Map to “Wesley detention/retention basin” without adopting a resolution with the reasons for the name change and without notifying the Planning Board.
I asked the Township Committee about this name change, and they said that they had no idea who changed the name or why. Do you believe this? I do not.
The Engineer for the Neptune Township Planning Board said Wesley Lake is not a detention/retention basin. He is correct.
On December 20, 2016, I attended a meeting of the Wesley Lake Commission. There were two people in the audience. They were discussing a photo contest for the best picture of Wesley Lake to place on their website.
“When it was the public’s turn to speak, I suggested that allowing polluted stormwater to drain into the lake was not a permitted use of the lake because:
“According to the DEP Division of Land Use Regulations, the lake is a “Special Area” subject to “Public Trust Right,” and the lake and its shores are also subject to the Public Trust Doctrine, where the permitted use is reserved for recreation and conservation only.
“The lake is also included in the State DEP Green Acre Program that requires that the lake be “held for recreation and conservation purposes.”
“In addition, the lake is also on riparian lands and is under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers which restricts the ues of the lake and its shores to recreation and conservation as well.
“Restoring the lake should be a part of both towns’ master plans which should be used as guides to restoring the lake over the next 6 years, and the Wesley Lake Commission should follow that plan as well.”
The response from the commission members was that they were unaware of the Public Trust Doctrine or the Green Acres regulations.
They also told me that they have the right to use the lake as part of a stormwater drainage system and that they are permitted to treat the contaminated lake water with a program of spreading chemicals into the lake because the original Lenape Indian name for the lake was “Long Pond” and since they believe that it is not a lake, they claim a pond can be used to treat stormwater pollution.
This is nonsense, but unlike the Neptune Township Committee, at least they are honest about why they are breaking every environmental law on the books
Ocean Grove, N.J. , December 26, 2016
The writer is a researcher and reporter @Blogfinger with a special interest in land use law and environmental issues in the Grove.
REGINA SPEKTOR: “Genius Next Door” from her album Far.
(This selection was suggested by a Blogfinger reader who says, “This song comes to my mind when thinking of our sad Wesley Lake. ” )