Archive for the ‘Blogfinger opinion’ Category

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.


When I was growing up in Rutherford, New Jersey, a small town in Bergen County, the main event for Memorial Day was a parade down Park Avenue filled with music, marching military, boy scouts, girl scouts and other groups.


Bro' Mel Goldfinger with the Rutherford High School marching band in the annual Memorial Day parade. c. 1965.

Bro’ Mel Goldfinger with the Rutherford High School marching band in the annual Memorial Day parade. c. 1965.


Even though it was to remember deceased veterans, the people decided to remember them with living memorials: happy citizens paying tribute.  As a kid marching with the RHS band, it seemed right to do that. But I had never experienced a loss during a war.

4 of my mother’s brothers came back alive from WWII  as did Eileen’s dad who was in Europe, so as a child, I always knew about war and about the risks of war. Our families were very fortunate.

In 1984 Eileen and I went with her parents on the 40th anniversary of D-Day to visit the US military cemetery overlooking the beaches of Normandy.

Our busload arrived just a few minutes before closing, but they allowed us in. It’s a good thing, because Bernie, Eileen’s dad, was determined to visit that beautiful resting place. There is no tangible remembering without the living showing up.  It was a profoundly moving experience, and now it reminds me of the movie Saving Private Ryan–the opening and closing scenes.

Recently Eileen and I visited the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. It is not exclusively a military burial ground, but it has lots of Civil War dead there along with two US Presidents.


Hollywood Cemetery. Richmond, Virginia. April, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Hollywood Cemetery. Richmond, Virginia. April, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©  Click photos to enlarge.

It is a gorgeous park-like place overlooking the James River. It not only pays tribute to the dead with great natural beauty and artistry, but it is alive with people—especially college students from nearby Virginia Commonwealth University.

I saw several of those students sitting on a rise, chatting, resting and looking at the river. Others were jogging and walking about. Having those young people there added a strong dimension to the experience.


Virginia Tech coeds in Hollywood Cemetery overlooking the James River. Paul Goldfinger photo April, 2016. ©

VCU  coeds in Hollywood Cemetery overlooking the James River. Paul Goldfinger photo April, 2016. ©  Click to enlarge


It seems perfectly fine and natural to honor the dead with the living, so the festive Memorial Day parade in Ocean Grove also seems appropriate along with a game of Wiffle Ball in Firemen’s Park, a bike ride up and down our historic streets, or a day at the beach.

But it would also be good if we took a moment to remember those who gave their lives so that we can enjoy our great country in peace, joy, love, and security.


LADY ANTEBELLUM.  What could be more promising of life  here than the anticipation of Christmas?





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Ocean Grove. Undated. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Ocean Grove. Undated. Paul Goldfinger photo ©


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor   (Blogfinger re-post from 2010.)

I recently interviewed a gentleman whose family, and whose wife’s family, go back five generations in the Grove. During our conversation, I referred to him as an “old-timer” in town. He asked me, “How long have you been here?”

“Since 1998,” I replied.

“Well then,” he said, “you are also an old-timer.”

His remark startled me a bit, because this town, with its history, seems like the kind of place where you have to go back quite a ways to be an old-timer, and I somehow could not consider myself in the same old-timer category that he was in.  Maybe I am a new old-timer.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend John Wiarda, who was a helicopter gunner in Vietnam. I was in the Navy then, but I fought the battle of Virginia Beach as a state-side Navy doctor. John said that I was as much a war veteran as he was, but I never really believed him.

So who decides who we are? Do we decide to define ourselves, or do others?  I always thought that each of us should decide who we are, and it is best for others to respect that decision.

As for Ocean Grove, with its 140 year old history, if my new five-generation Grover friend wants to call me an old-timer, then I will not protest, but I live in a house that is about 130 years old, so I have perspective and, between you and me, I like the idea that he’s the old timer and I’m the newcomer.

JESSICA  MOLASKEY    from her album Pentimento

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A gaggle of Princeton coeds at Nassau Gate. April, 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo © A gaggle of Princeton coeds at Nassau Gate. April, 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger  (Re-post from 2015, but still relevant.)


The last time we tried to bring up a controversial subject about women on Blogfinger, ie objectification of women in our society, the response from women in the BF audience was underwhelming. But maybe that topic was too abstract or just not relevant.  The latter was my opinion.

Last week I was listening to Dennis Prager, a radio talk show host who likes to discuss cultural issues.  He said that he met a bright young woman in her twenties doing security work in Israel.

He asked her if she were married, and she said, “No.” She gave the same reply when asked if she had a boyfriend.

Then he asked her, “Would you like to have a boyfriend?”

And she replied, “No, I would like to have a husband.”

I thought that was a fascinating reply and so did Prager. He and his audience had a lengthy discussion on the subject; once a week he has a “male/female hour” on his show.

Prager thought that few woman in America in that same demographic would reply the way the Israeli did because our college age women seem to want to “play the field” and delay commitment while they pursue careers.

Prager was critical of the American approach saying that it was flawed in terms of what’s best for society and what’s best for women, and especially because, according to him, the best time for a woman to find a husband is when she is in college.

A few days ago, the NY Times mentioned an article by Maureen Dowd where she interviewed many women working in Hollywood. One of the quotes interested me regarding our topic today. It is a quote by Amy Heckerling, a writer and director for the movies.

She said, “I can’t stand most of the movies marketed to women. They are all about finding guys and weddings, weddings, weddings. I don’t care about weddings.”

Then, I told a friend about Prager’s remarks , and he was incensed saying that Prager was being condescending and was clinging to old fashioned ways of viewing American women.

I thought that Prager was correct as far as college being a good time to “find a husband,” but, notwithstanding that observation, contemporary American women have different priorities and life-schedules than one or two generations ago.

So what do you think?




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Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor  Blogfinger.net 

 2020 re-post  (The original question posited in the headline is still valid.)

There are multiple factions in the small town of Ocean Grove (pop  3,700,) and these organized groups are largely isolated from each other. Woven into the fabric are homeowners and renters who live here but do not belong to any organizations, thus becoming, by default, a faction of their own.

According to social scientist Steve Valk, whose family has lived here for several generations, it would be important for these factions to find ways to appreciate and cooperate with each other. For example he cites the religious groups and the secular groups which ought to find common ground for the benefit of the town. One example of such cooperation is the recent interaction, since Sandy, between Ocean Grove United (OGU) and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association  (CMA); however we have recently seen how tenuous that relationship is when we recall the  recent clash about Sunday sermons.

The CMA ran the town from 1869 to 1980 as a tax paying part of Neptune Twp.—-111 years.

Neptune Township  treated OG as a sort of gated community.  The CMA made the rules and imposed blue laws until the N.J. Supreme Court put a stop to that in 1980 when Neptune  took over active governance in the Grove  (although the Neptuners were technically the governing body almost since the town’s founding.)  Since 1980, the CMA has continued its mission and  it has largely kept out of the way of Neptune Township.

But we now see the CMA and the Township working together on the North End Redevelopment Project, but suspicious elements have been revealed, and that project does not seem to be designed primarily with the town’s best interest at heart.  By 2021, the CMA, OGNED, and the Neptunites seem to be on the verge of going ahead with the NERP.

As for the Neptune Township governance, you have seen the results of our recent poll which shows that 80% of respondents mistrust  the Neptune Township Committee. Interestingly, over the years, there were times when the citizens rose up against Neptune control resulting in law suits and even a failed referendum to allow the Grove to become a separate town which it did for one year in 1925.

The other organizations here also tend to have their own agendas and to be run like private clubs. Such groups include the Homeowners Association, the Historical Society, Ocean Grove United, and the Chamber of Commerce.

They don’t work together very much for the good of the town.  They are busy with their own agendas.  For example, the Chamber of Commerce runs big events to try and drum up business for the merchants.  But what do they do for the benefit of those who live here?  We asked them to take over sponsorship of the Town-wide Yard Sale, but they refused.

 When we introduced a new idea for the town—the Blogfinger Film Festival—a benefit for the boardwalk—-only a few of the members would be sponsors for the program, and hardly any attended the event.

When we think of factions in town, we can see the visible ones, but how about the invisible ones such as families that have lived here for generations and are part of networks that act in concert with each other, with the CMA,  and with the Township governance, especially where land use, zoning,  and parking are concerned.  Let’s call that “the OG network of special interests.”

For them the town of Ocean Grove seems like a gift that keeps on giving. This network never speaks publicly, shows its face, or identifies itself, but what it does and has done will impact all of us and will determine what the town will be in the future.  Take a look at all the Grovers who are involved with OGNED and will gain financially from that North  End project; to the detriment of those of us who live here and pay taxes.

We have seen the results of favoritism for those special interests in the Greek Temple and Mary’s Place.  The North End Redevelopment Project is a good example to keep an eye on.  Who will be the winners, and who will be the losers?

Because of indifference by the public, organizations, and special interests, Ocean Grove may become an at-risk town which could end up a failed historic  place without focus and character, such as is seen in other shore towns—unless the public pays attention and the organizations here begin to work together for the overall benefit of the town and not just on their narrow pet projects, like the Homeowners Association which is currently circulating a simple-minded parking survey while ignoring the improprieties and illegalities around town regarding land use issues.  The HOA has teamed up with the Neptune Committee ever since 2008 when it supported 165 residential units, mostly condos, at the North End.

In 2002, a professor* at Monmouth University published an academic paper about OG history, emphasizing the powerful way that the activist HOA of 25-30 years ago  fought for the town and saved its life.  Below  is a quote**  from that research about that era.

Contrast the conclusion below with the current HOA which now is failing Ocean Grove through impotence, inaction, and lack of focus towards the issues which currently threaten our town the most.

The Home Groaners need to step up and save the town once again,  but this version appears to so far be hopeless in that regard.

** 2002:   “The HOA has maintained or reconstructed the carefully planned infrastructure of the founders, and even as Ocean Grove is being reborn as a contemporary tourist site, the HOA has worked with the CMA to preserve its sacred foundations. Just like the CMA, the HOA has been outstanding in its ability to secure what it wants and what it believes the community needs. Property values have risen, the community is again a safe place, tourism has been revived, an enormous amount of social capital has been generated, and the Victorian charm of the town has been restored.”

By Karen Schmelzkopf*  in the Journal of Historical Geography, 2002





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You get a choice on Blogfinger. It’s freedom of speech, and that’s what we want.


By Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor @Blogfinger.net

In recent days there has been a brief discussion on the social media site “Nextdoor.com” about Blogfinger’s policy of allowing anonymous commenters to express their opinions.  Nextdoor insists that all posts be under the person’s full real name.

Kennedy Buckley, a trustee of the OGHOA and a member of Nextdoor.com, said this publicly regarding our policy:   “Comments without a name = fake news.”  This condemnation by good old “Grover Ken” trashes over 90% of the comments on Blogfinger.

But what Kennedy forgot is that he was a regular commenter on Blogfinger for years.

When he was commenting on BF, 90% of the time he signed in as “Ken,” and that was done because he didn’t want to reveal his full name, and, only on rare occasions, would he would sign in as “Kennedy Buckley.”

And, at times, he would contribute using pseudonyms such as “The Dreamer.” “The Nag”  “Biased” and “Curious”  and there were many others as well—we lost count.   And then, one day, he stopped commenting because he joined the silent majority at the OGHOA’s Board of Trustees.

So I guess the H in HOA for him means “Hypocrite.”   Or maybe we could use the term “Double standard.”

And this, by another Grover on Nextdoor.com named Diane Giangeruso:  “If you can’t give your name then you can’t give your opinion on the permit parking. Speak up and be proud 🌞”

As for Diane Giangeruso’s comment, you can see the defect in what she said using her real name.

Although that website Nextdoor should be very useful if you are looking for an endodontist or a Portajohn, I doubt that it will be a good forum for serious debate because of the real name requirement.

THE ANDREWS SISTERS: We send this song out to Kennedy Buckley of Ocean Grove–a guy who can’t make up his mind.

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I commented on Blogfinger, and no one has stolen my identity..


Cartoon by Sue Gioulis of Ocean Grove.

It has come to our attention that some individuals might be intimidated by the regular “comments” process because of privacy concerns.  When you click on “comments” at the bottom of each post, you can sign in using a pseudonym, which is what most commenters do, even though, in the  best of worlds, we would all use our real names.  You also don’t have to give us your email address, although that is the only way I have to privately get back to you for clarification, discussion, etc.

We at Blogfinger are fine with not knowing, and certainly not exhibiting, anyone’s email address, which never occurs.

If any of you want to make a comment using a back door process, simple send your comment by email. You don’t have to use the “contact us” form or the “comments” route.    Just send your comment by regular email to Blogfinger@verizon.net.

Doing that will reveal your email and maybe your name, but we will not post either.  As for your name, tell us your pseudonym, or else we will conjure one up for you.  We will not use your name unless you specifically ask us to do so.

So please join in our discussions.  And if you have an opinion that you want aired out, unrelated to anything currently posted, just send us an email and we will turn it into a “letter to the editor” or a “just wondering” segment.


Paul Goldfinger, editor and master-of-ceremonies at Blogfinger.net



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This appeared in 2013, so it is fun and timely to post it again..And don’t fail to read the 34 comments.  Do your homework for the HOA parking forum on Jan 23.

Use the BF search engine on the top of the page and search under parking, RSIS, etc.   Don’t let the Home Groaners Board steamroll you with their usual lawyerly, pedantic propaganda.

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A statue of George Washington in Albany. Two of the most powerful men in the capital, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver and Senator Dean G. Skelos, go on trial this month. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

A statue of George Washington in Albany. Two of the most powerful men in the capital, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver and Senator Dean G. Skelos, go on trial this month. Photo: Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

Recently we discussed how Neptune officials, engaging in irregularities and improprieties  regarding  the Ocean Grove North End Project might “get away with” such activities.  We said that public apathy and a useless Home Owners Association could provide the opportunity for officials to successfully skirt or manipulate the law to achieve objectives which are not in the public’s best interest.

New Jersey has an infamous history of successful prosecution of elected officials who break the law, including cases in Neptune Township* and Asbury Park.

But with instances when there is just a suspicion of wrongdoing,  the suspicion alone can result in loss of trust on the part of the electorate, and that loss of trust can produce a corrosive effect on our normal democratic processes which are supposed to result in  justice and the public good.

In Ocean Grove, where Blogfinger and some citizens are suspicious of  procedures being followed for the North End Redevelopment Plan and other issues, the situation has reached the point where there is mistrust of the Neptune Township  Committee.  We elected them to represent us and we loaned them the power to make decisions on our behalf.  But their lack of transparency and possibly illegal behavior create a justified lack of confidence in them as our representatives. There already is one law suit in play naming the Neptune Township Committee.

It’s one thing to disagree with your Committeemen about policy, which is a normal part of our system, but it’s quite another if you don’t trust them.  And it is not only a problem experienced at the local level of government.

Consider Meet the Press this past Sunday when the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, said,  regarding working with the President, “I don’t trust the President on immigration.”  Regardless of the merits, that charge has serious implications, and it illustrates how loss of trust may negatively affect our democratic processes even at that level of governance.

Let’s consider a shocking situation in NY State where loss of trust actually turned into indictments. In Albany two respected and powerful men, long distrusted by many,  are now on trial for corruption. Consider what the NY Times** says about the “culture of corruption” in that state:

“In separate federal courthouses in Lower Manhattan this month, two of the most powerful men in New York are about to go on trial, an extraordinary spectacle centering on allegations of corruption, bribery and nepotism in the state’s highest chambers of political power.”

“The alleged acts are typical of a culture, according to the watchdog groups, that has made Albany practically synonymous with corruption and stubbornly resistant to reform, keeping citizens — and even most lawmakers — in the dark about much of the legislative work and spending done in their names.”

Because of these New York State cases, the electorate in that state has to wonder if the entire governance  process in Albany cannot be trusted. This is the extent of the destructive effect on our democratic institutions  when loss of trust evolves into criminal investigations.

The Times says, “This focus on Albany has already had a chilling effect in the Capitol and contributed to what was an anemic legislative session this year. Some lawmakers said this occurred, in part, because of their concern that investigators may view the normal, transactional nature of politics in Albany as crimes of corruption. And some lawmakers complain privately that the federal scrutiny has tainted the state’s many honest public servants.”

Locally, we have not gone on record to accuse anyone of a crime, but some of us are suspicious of what’s going on in the Municipal Building in Neptune, and we have every right to say so and to demand a transparent explanation of whatever is questioned and to insist on an outside investigation of the public processes.

Is there a “culture” at Neptune Town Hall which causes failure of trust?  So it seems.

  • In 2005, the FBI indicted  the Neptune Township Deputy Mayor for corruption.  He served jail time.  There also was another Neptune functionary, the Director of Code Enforcement, who got caught up in the same investigation which brought down numerous Monmouth County officials.

** NY Times link for November 1, 2015



Neptune Township Committee:  It’s not too late to go down the better road; restore trust by pulling the plug on that North End Redevelopment Plan—-start over and earn back the trust.

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A small crowd of OGU supporters gather by the Beersheba Well. Blogfinger photo 8/16/15 ©

A small crowd of OGU supporters gather by the Beersheba Well. Blogfinger photo 8/16/15 © click to make the small crowd bigger.

The shirt says,

The shirt says, ” Support Garden State Equality.” The sign says, “Thank you Rev. Dr. Campolo.” Blogfinger photo 8/16/15.  Police stand by in case someone wants to burn their Medicare cards.

Sunday, August 16, 2015, Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger, reporting live from the Great Auditorium.

Today was the day that Ocean Grove United called for a demonstration outside the GA prior to the weekly Sunday morning service.

Each week there is a different guest speaker, and today it was Tony Campolo, a well-known Baptist pastor.  OGU previously announced that they wanted to welcome him. Couldn’t they just have sent him an email or a nice note?

OGU assembled a lively group of supporters, about 30 of them,  in Auditorium Square Park, outside the GA,  starting at 9:30 am.  They spoke among themselves, but their body language indicated that they did not want to interact with others.

Many in the group were wearing matching blue T shirts with a slogan that said “Support Garden State Equality.”  GSE is the state-wide gay advocacy group that showed up in the Grove at the time of the Pavilion problem and during the demonstration against Kirk Cameron.

I was there with my camera and my NJ Press Pass around my neck. I approached a small knot of demonstrators. One of them was a senior member of OGU who lives in OG  (let’s call her S.–for silent)   She refused to talk to me. Standing next to her was a young woman wearing one of those blue shirts clearly identifying her as a member of the demonstrators.

I asked her why she was there today. She began to speak, but S. demanded that she stop talking to me. The young woman was intimidated and she said, “I guess I can’t say anything.”

Then I approached Luisa Paster, Co-Chair of OGU. She would not say a single word to me—not even hello. She kept her lips tightly sealed as she looked at me. “So I guess you aren’t speaking to me?” said I. She shook her head to indicate “No,”

I told her that it was a shame.  I wanted to ask her to tell us exactly what OGU wants in this town.  Why have a demonstration if you won’t say what the message is?

Someone who did speak to me was Jen Giordano, at her table, promoting “Urban Promise” a Christian group that had been founded by Tony Campolo.  She said that she was well aware of the issues between the CMA and OGU.  Her reaction was , “God loves everyone.”  But she followed up by saying, “Tolerance goes both ways.”

Gen Giordano of Urban Promise. Blogfinger photo. © 8/16/15

Jen Giordano of Urban Promise. Blogfinger photo. © 8/16/15

Another person who tried to speak to the OGU demonstrators was Colleen Batchelder, an outgoing, cheerful woman who came today from Barnegat with her dad to hear this speaker.  She is the founder of “Recklessly Abandoned Ministries Inc.”  I was standing there when she approached a group of OGUniks.  She asked them what the demonstration was about.  No one would speak to her.  The same  OGU member (S for silent) who turned me down, turned Colleen down as well.  But Colleen is a determined person, and she asked S.  to say something because she likes to “hear all sides.”  No answer.  Then she asked S. if she could pray for her. “What would you like me to pray for?” Colleen asked.

S. said nothing, but Colleen is persuasive, so S. said “Pray for world peace.”

Two out of towners tried to speak to the OGUniks, but no answer. © 8/16/15 Blogfinger photo.

Two out-of-towners tried to speak to the OGUniks, but silence was the answer.  © 8/16/15 Blogfinger photo.

After that Colleen and I spoke to each other.  She said that we all should see each other not as groups but as individuals.  She said that all should be welcomed in the church.

You would think these OGUniks would like to explain to the people of Ocean Grove what they are about. But evidently they are so embarrassed by their message that they would prefer we all guess what they are thinking. Ironically they are a group which says they are about “neighborliness, inclusiveness, and mutual respect.”  (from their web site)  Really?

Of course, no one is required to talk to Blogfinger, but stifling the speech of that young lady is another matter altogether.

Ocean Grove United has a history of trying to stiff-arm speech in the Great Auditorium. They have tried, but not succeeded, in intimidating the CMA into applying a gay litmus test to all speakers who are being considered for summer Sunday services in the GA.

How ironic it is that a group that claims to be about equality and freedom would violate somebody else’s right to speak.

As for Blogfinger, I am not surprised by their behavior, because they have shown hostility towards us before. But yesterday we had 1,800 visits to our site and we will probably have higher numbers today.  We never get any commenters who identify themselves as being members of OGU, but that’s their loss.  Their behavior  seems childish.

And anytime someone Googles OGU, they will find our articles, but they won’t find OGU’s message as offered by themselves on our site because they are also silent on the BF site where their voice could be heard by many readers:  www.blogfinger.net.   (At the top of our home page is a search block where you can research our coverage of OGU-related issues in Ocean Grove.)

Golly….OGU really needs a PR person, because their recent activities, like bailing out on the Cupola dedication, have drawn predominantly negative reviews in the Blogfinger comments section.

Oh, by the way, Tony Campolo gave a fine and inspired sermon today to about 3,000 avid followers, but OGU’s favorite topic never came up.  He did, however, remind the congregation that, “This is a Methodist place.”

About 3,000 people attended the Sunday service today to hear Tony Campola. ©

About 3,000 people attended the Sunday service today to hear Tony Campolo. © Click to enlarge.  Paul Goldfinger photo.

JANE MONHEIT  with some good advice:

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The mark in the foreground is at the south eastern corner of the property  Blogfinger photo

The mark in the foreground is at the south eastern corner of the property Blogfinger photo. Click to enlarge and read the side of the truck.

This mark is on Lake Avenue at the north western corner of the property.

This mark is on Lake Avenue at the north western corner of the property.


This view shows the southern edge of the "blighted area in need of re-development". At the lower edge you can see the orange marker.  The hotel (or more condos) will be at that location, with view of the ocean). Further west on Spray will be some single family homes.  Blogfinger photo July 14, 2015 ©

This view shows the southern edge of the “blighted area in need of re-development”. At the lower edge you can see the orange marker. The hotel (or more condos) will be at this location**, with views of the ocean. Further west on Spray will be a row of single family homes with underground garages. Blogfinger photo July 14, 2015 ©  Click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Orange marks have been placed around Block (1) and a section of the Lake Avenue walkway by a land surveyor who is preparing a survey map that will be used by an architect and engineer in creating site plans that must be submitted for approval to all agencies having jurisdiction over the proposed plan.  After those approvals, construction plans can be  prepared.  These maps will demarcate the outlines of the property which will comprise the bulk of  the North End plan.  They also will provide documentation regarding the sale of the property.

We know that WAVE, the mysterious LLC that will soon become  the sole re-developer of the NERP,  has contracted to purchase most of the North End property from the Camp Meeting Association.   That purchase is tantamount to owning the land, although it is officially promoted as a 99 year lease in perpetuity.

The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association stands to receive a large sum of money for selling that valuable property  to WAVE.   As we have reported, the identities of the individuals behind WAVE have not been released.  Meanwhile, the CMA has requested that the Township officially remove them as co-developer. That will require a resolution by the Township.

For some observers it seems like a poor decision for the CMA to give up such valuable property because there is so much money to be made in the future from all sorts of possible uses including parking for the Township. But perhaps the CMA is somehow still involved with WAVE and thus stands to gain in that way. We already know that if the hotel is turned into condos, the CMA will receive a 10% fee for each one sold.

Blogfinger will continue to educate the Ocean Grove public as to the truth of what’s happening with the NERP. We are sticking to this because, according to the Duck Principle, “If it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.”

We plan to report on  a variety of issues related to the NERP. Some of them will be surprises. There’s quite a lot to keep us busy.

Among those matters, we want to revisit the outrageous 2007 Planning Board vote which recommended that the Township approve the special designation  (“area in need of redevelopment”)  which resulted in the  zoning being changed despite what was in the best interest of the Grove.  That was the key event in this whole story.

Here is a link about that 2007 Planning Board vote:     http://blogfinger.net/2015/04/20/2007-the-planning-board-passes-a-resolution-to-allow-an-area-in-need-of-redevelopment-why-did-they-do-that/

Wee will soon report on something else that relates to that Planning Board vote in 2007.

You can forget about the Coaster for information.  They merely are stenographers who copy down whatever the HOA and the Committee tell them.  And as for the OGHOA, they have no idea about the the real truths beneath the surface, and they don’t want to know.  Their last statement was replete with errors.

We will try to find the truths and to assemble the pieces of the puzzle.

**The location of the hotel building is the worst possible choice.  The hotel  (or probably condos) will be the tallest building  (5 stories) in the zone and will block the most views of the Ocean.  The tallest building should be placed in the back of the zone, not in front. This decision is arrogant and gives a clue as to the attitude of the developers towards the town of Ocean Grove.  The idea that they have reduced the density has been celebrated by the out-to-lunch OGHOA who should be standing on their heads in opposition to this “travesty.”

Credit:  Ocean Grover Jack Bredin has been doing important research for Blogfinger as we pursue this story.


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Whitfield Hotel.  Blogfinger file photo c. 2013.  ©

Whitfield Hotel. Blogfinger file photo c. 2013. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger

It was in the summer of 2013 that a hearing was held by the HPC to decide about demolishing a wreck of an unsavory 130 year old hotel in Ocean Grove. The Whitfield  sits on 4 lots at the intersections of Surf, Beach and Bath Avenues.    Testimony about the Whitfield Hotel, a 54 room residential facility, revealed that all criteria for demolition were met. In addition, experts testified that the property had no historic significance. After that hearing, Code Enforcement issued a demolition permit.   We wrote a detailed article about the history of the Whitfield and about that hearing (see link below). 


The neighbors were ecstatic to hear that the hotel would be torn down, hopefully to make way for four single family homes. Many called it a “seedy flea bag.” It was said to be a place where people who had criminal records lived.  Social agencies often sent offenders of various types to stay there for short periods, but sometimes those characters were sent back again and again.  The police were often called to the location.

The HPC hearing dealt with the demolition application, but it was not going to get involved with the fate of the tenants.  Some Blogfinger readers expressed concern about that. There are 37 comments there, and they make very interesting reading.  Here are two:

Doubting Thomas said,  “It is sad because of what it represents. Every derelict building represents the lives of people, and we should view tear-downs (as with the Sampler) from that perspective.

“And speaking of that perspective, where was the Home Owners Association special committee on derelict housing? Why weren’t they there offering an opinion? What exactly do they do besides not showing up for a demolition hearing?”

Wisher said,  “Most, I love the move-ahead, clear, and most-certainly Germanic tone of this post. It is as though no humans lived in the structure, and it is an abstract real estate construct. Maybe that is appropriate for New Jersey – dead communities. Spring Lake – dead, Deal – dead. Ocean Grove?”

After the Code Enforcement awarded the demolition permit, the tenants received assistance to find comparable affordable housing.  NJ law requires that tenants be given 18 months eviction notice, and that was done in March 2014.

So the demolition of the Whitfield cannot be implemented until at least September, 2015;  however the end is in sight.  After that, the owner will be able to develop the property, but condominiums will not be permitted.  Evidently only single family homes will be allowed to replace the Whitfield Hotel.

When that happens, the neighbors ought to have a block party, because their home values and quality of life should go up.

We hate to see authentic historic buildings torn down, but sometimes it is necessary, and Ocean Grove has lost many such buildings over the years due to fire and/or neglect. The idea is to solve the problem of derelict and deteriorating historic houses in town.  It is an uphill battle, but one that requires a team approach by those who care in Ocean Grove.

LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III  (from Boardwalk Empire)

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Ocean Grove north end boardwalk.  October 30, 2012--the day after Sandy.  Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Ocean Grove north end boardwalk. October 30, 2012–the day after Sandy. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

The Ocean Grove Homeowners Association recently sent letters out to their members asking them to renew their dues at $10.00 per year per “household.” The letter contains a summary of their “accomplishments” in 2014.

But, if the members are to decide if they will get their money’s worth, they must consider not what the OGHOA did in terms of meetings, wheel spinning, touring derelict houses, misleading the public in the Coaster, and other nonproductive activities, but rather what have they actually done that has made a substantial difference?

They say that that their goal is “the maintenance and enhancement of property values in Ocean Grove.” Really? So have they achieved that goal? We will look at their “accomplishments” in a series of Blogfinger posts and let you comment.

Let’s begin with The North End Committee report: Anne Horan, the President of HOA said, “Last year the restoration of 4 Boardwalk, the building near the north end of OG, was halted as a direct result of the North End Committee’s information to the Township that the builder did not obtain the required permits.”

Is it the job of the OGHOA to police the town and look for builders or homeowners who are doing construction without permits? The Code Enforcement officers used to patrol the Grove and take pictures—-sort of like a junior secret police. Then they would pounce if you had peeling paint, the wrong retaining wall, or plants that were too high. But there was a public outcry, and they stopped doing that spying.  The citizens spoke.

So now, the OGHOA has taken upon itself the job of junior secret police. Was it their job to complain to the Township about a building owner who is trying to bring his property back from the Sandy destruction?   Are we better off now that the work has been halted?

Do we want our HOA to be patrolling around the Grove watching for derelict construction permits? Where will they take this task next?   Will our HOA neighbors be watching us if we put up a fence or the wrong window replacement? Is this Pogo redux: “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

OGHOA members should demand that the Board of Trustees stick to their mission and not become enforcers for the Township.

What do you think?  Do you say “hello” or do you say “goodbye?”


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The North End Redevelopmane Zone is bordered by the boardwalk, Wesley Lake and Spray Avenue. Photo by Prosper Bellizia, Blogfinger staff. ©

The North End Redevelopment  Zone is bordered by the boardwalk, Wesley Lake, Beach Ave,  and Spray Avenue (foreground).   West to east photo by Prosper Bellizia, Blogfinger staff. ©   This was first posted in 2015.

Northeast aspect of the Redevelopment zone. Prosper Bellizia ©

Northeast aspect of the Redevelopment zone. Prosper Bellizia ©


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

In the December 4, 2014 issue of the Coaster is a column called “Did You Know?” by reporter Bonnie Graham. The focus of the piece was to explain the functions of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association. Ms. Graham interviewed HOA President Ann Horan and wasted no time in bringing up the controversial North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP).

In responding to Graham’s questions about the NERP, Horan made an unforced error and got the facts wrong,*  resulting in a mild tempest at the subsequent Township Committee meeting on December 22, 2014.  The NERP, after all, is a sensitive and critical subject in Ocean Grove.

Between Horan’s embarrassing factual mis-step in the Coaster  and the reaction to it before the Neptune governing body, our interest in revisiting the story of the NERP was aroused.   On top of that, Graham made a  comment in the same article  that “CMA COO JP Gradone had asserted last August, 2014, at the  legislative breakfast meeting, that the North End redevelopment project, which had been on the back burner for some time, is now on the front burner.”   Really ?

On January 23, 2015, Blogfinger asked Gradone about that quote, and he said, “We are currently in discussion with the Developer regarding the project.”   So there is  some life in the process after many years of mystery, and therefore it’s time for the public to pay attention once again.  It should be noted that work cannot go ahead on the plan without a signed Redevelopment Agreement between the Township Committee negotiators  (Committee-persons Jahn and Bishop)  and the developers.  

By way of background, in the year 2006, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, owners of the undeveloped 2.37 acre North End property, decided to bring the desolate area back to its previous life where it was a lively place with a hotel, a cinema, attractions and shopping.  But one thing stood in the way—-zoning;  it was zoned for 13 single family homes.

So the developers of the property, including the CMA and others involved, created an end-run and convinced the Township Planning Board to redefine the area as a zone “in need of redevelopment,”  in accordance with the State Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.    This meant that the property was so “blighted,” that local government had to take over its management.  That new designation would allow a mixed use community to be built.

The design of a redevelopment was turned over to professional  planners in Middletown to come up with a ” framework” for a mixed use community at the OG North End. Ultimately, a much more detailed plan would have to be done before any construction could begin. Two planners signed the NERP, but no engineers did.

The developers of the plan include the OGCMA and a partnership called WAVE  (see below.)

In early 2008, the HPC, the CMA, and the OG Homeowners Association provided input which resulted in some changes in the NERP, and that was the last time that there were any changes made. The Planning Board approved the proposal, and in March, 2008, the Township Committee wrote the NERP into law.  A lawsuit was filed in opposition, and that held things up for awhile, but in 2010, Neptune Township won the suit.

The Plan includes a hotel with 80 rooms, 85 residential units consisting mostly of condos, some single family homes,  a “below grade” parking deck and  about 20  surface parking spaces. Parking is supposed to comply with RSIS State standards.   A 99 year renewable lease was part of the deal. The design was supposed to look Victorian.

You can read the  official NERP document at the Clerk’s office in the Neptune Township Municipal Building. It is no longer available on the Township web site, but we have located a link  (below) where you can read the entire planning report. **

For a variety of undisclosed reasons, the project has been dormant. Among the theories  are that a bad economy has been inhibitory and/or there have been difficulties getting all the approvals.

In 2011  the HOA passed a resolution asking that the NERP be scaled back. They offered some constructive ideas.  There is a link below reporting on their recommendations.  Unfortunately, nothing came of it.

In 2012  there were objections raised by the soon-to-be-elected Committeewoman Marybeth Jahn  regarding the size, scope and other details of the project.   Ms. Jahn spoke aggressively of changing the NERP in a totally retro direction, and everybody cheered.  It should also be noted that two other Committeemen were sympathetic to downsizing the project—-Eric Houghtaling and Randy Bishop.

Evidently buyers’ remorse was echoing through the town of Ocean Grove.  But not a single change was adopted despite these outcries.      Our October 2012 piece on this subject is linked below and is critically important reading material for every Ocean Grover.

In Sept. 2012, the following was reported in Blogfinger, covering the year-end Labor Day CMA meeting:  “CMA Trustee Douglas E. Arpert responded to a questioner who asked the status of the North End development of condos, homes and a hotel. The CMA and a company called WAVE (Wesley Atlantic Village Enterprises run by attorney William Gannon) are co-developers.  Arpert told Blogfinger they hope to conclude a redevelopment agreement with Neptune Township by the end of the year and to break ground in 2013.”    

But, of course, one month later, all of that changed with Sandy, and the developers planned to go back to the drawing board to “reassess” the plan. That made sense, because environmental regulations after the superstorm were going to change how things must be done in environmentally sensitive areas.  That was the last time we heard anything about NERP—until now  (2015).

So, getting back to the aforementioned HOA President Ann Horan’s December, 2014 Coaster interview, she said that the current  “North End Committee (and she listed the current members’ names) have  expressed the HOA’s concerns regarding the project to the Neptune Township Committee,  and their efforts helped to persuade the Committee to revise the redevelopment plan by reducing the number of proposed hotel rooms/condominium units, limiting the size of the structures in the site, providing for single family homes, and including an off street parking facility”

The problem with Horan’s December public statement in the Coaster is that she gave the false impression that the current North End Committee has been “active” in eliciting recent changes in the Redevelopment Plan.  But, as noted, there have been no changes in NERP since 2008—-7 years ago.

Horan’s statement was of sufficient concern that it was brought up at the Dec. 22, 2014 Township Committee meeting where her remarks were discussed publicly, and Committeeman Randy Bishop  found it necessary to make a public statement about it (see below.)   The Township Committee’s minutes are posted at Neptunetownship.org

The following is taken from the Committee minutes of Dec. 22, 2014:

Jack Breden, 94 1⁄2 Heck Avenue, read a recent Coaster article regarding the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association concerns regarding the North End Redevelopment Plan. The President of the Association, Ann Horan, is quoted that the Redevelopment Plan was changed based on recommendations from the Association. The article goes on to state that the Association got numerous elements of the Plan changed. Mr. Bishop stated changes were made to the Plan based on Association input before the Plan was adopted in 2008. There have been no changes made to the Plan since it was adopted in 2008.”

Because of the importance of the Redevelopment Plan to the town of Ocean Grove, “Horangate” has given us a heads-up to bring the plan’s story out of mothballs and into the public eye once again. Concerned citizens need the background to assess whatever may be coming our way re:  NERP.

Regarding starting work on the project, Committeeman Eric Houghtaling told Blogfinger three weeks ago, “I know that there are many, many things that need to be worked out before anything can be done on the Redevelopment project.”

Township Clerk Rick Cuttrell said earlier this month that he thought that the project had gotten all necessary approvals, including NJDEP, but he wasn’t certain and would find out.  We have not heard back yet on that inquiry.

So, now that the cat is out of the bag once again, and the history of the HOA’s involvement is cleared up, we will consider a series of more  detailed Blogfinger articles about the North End Redevelopment and what the future will bring.

It’s time to pay attention again, because anything new in this story, even just a dorsal fin in the water, must be made public. Currently the NERP is no different in size, scope or specifics than it was in 2008 when there were many misgivings in town about local congestion, environmental impact, parking,  and other quality of life issues. The project will affect the future of Ocean Grove in a major way.


1.   North end plan from 2008**

Click to access Redevelopment%20Plan_03-06-08_NorthEnd.pdf

2.   Dec 13, 2010:  BF “basic fact guide” about NERP         Link to  2010 BF review

3.   May, 2011:  HOA passes a resolution which results in no changes to the NERP   HOA NERP resolution 2011 BF post link

4.  October 2012:       Very important article which all Grovers should read. Blogfinger was the last OG entity to plead for a reduction in the project.    Link:     BF Oct 12, 2012 North End article

BF quote from the Oct. 2012 article linked above  (a very important piece written shortly before Sandy:)  “If this is built, it will be the most massive construction project in Ocean Grove’s modern history. Its impact on all of us will be substantial, and that impact will begin at the opening gun, with the start of construction. ”  

If you use the BF search engine on the top of our home page, just type in “North end redevelopment plan” for more details.

WANTED:  Experienced researchers to help BF in assessing and investigating  this very important subject in great detail looking back and forward. You won’t get the details unless you, the people, get it yourselves.




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