Archive for the ‘Hurricane legacy’ Category


Ocean Grove Fishing Pier. Date unknown. By Moe Demby, Blogfinger staff .© Ocean Grove Fishing Pier.   Date unknown.   By Moe Demby, Blogfinger staff .©  Click on image to enlarge.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.  2014.  And read the 19 comments below.

During the recent (2012-2014)   post-Sandy FEMA foreplay era, Blogfinger  went on and on ad nauseum about why our boardwalk deserved public money. The arguments presented by the CMA made sense to us and eventually prevailed, although the feds have yet to show us the actual boardwalk money. But they will.

During that period, the issue of the historic Fishing Pier was raised a few times. The OG Fishing Club members were upset that the CMA would not make a commitment to reestablish their  club at the end of the pier.

You will see that FEMA also refused to pay for pier repairs after Hurricane Irene in the summer of 2011.  The boardwalk was not damaged then.  There was about $150,000 damage to the far end of the pier. FEMA said then exactly what they say now—- that the denial is because private non-profit groups like the Camp Meeting Association  cannot be compensated for recreational facilities  after storm damage.

But now, when both the boardwalk and the pier are damaged after Sandy, somehow FEMA has separated the two structures even though they are clearly attached at the hip, and the illogical distinction seems to be based on what?  It’s as if they are desperate to nail the Camp Meeting Association in some way .

But the situation is also odd, because  FEMA has done a double about-face—first a denial, then promises to fund the pier, and now a denial. The CMA always plays “Mister Nice Guy” so their reaction is one of kindness tempered by the need to engage in yet another interminable appeal.   Herb Herbst, of the Jersey Shore Arts Center, said that the CMA should get more aggressive with demonstrations, picketing, pressure on politicians, and getting tough. But that’s not the CMA’s style.

Besides, what cards does the CMA hold? I can see their case that the pier is an extension of the boardwalk and does supply opportunities as a facility with some public safety attributes and potential, but they have to again make the case to a bureaucracy that has already ruled on one application and two laborious appeals resulting in a boardwalk award for $2.3 million.  FEMA has got to be sick and tired of hearing those two words: Ocean Grove.

So why did FEMA change its mind about the pier?  It smells like a political knifing—a blindside attack. If you want to hear one conspiracy theory, just re-read our piece about the editorial views of the Weekly Standard magazine.  (Weekly Standard link ) You can make up your own mind if you smell a rat. And if you follow the money, you will find State funds (grants and interest free loans) to for- profit private businesses on the Seaside Heights boards given first for Sandy and then for a fire.

So help is there for their profitable private businesses, but not for our destroyed pier?  Who’s  to say which need is greatest—–quality of life for Grovers or for pizza operators in SH?

As for the historic Fishing Club, their  future is in the hands of the pier’s owners—the OGCMA—who are evidently still not going to make any commitments with the OGFC, because that carries a risk of a firestorm having to do with use of public money for exclusionary clubs, even if the Fishing Club says that they are not private.   The locks on the gates say otherwise to anybody who wants to stroll to the end.

Does the recent FEMA reversal on the pier have anything to do with the Fishing Club and the CMA’s unwillingness to make a decision?  I think not, because if that were true, a deal would have been already struck between FEMA and the CMA, and all hope for the Fishing Club would have been carried  away by the ocean fog.

Finally, there is one solid promise that was made last year by Interim Camp Meeting COO Ralph delCampo, and he made the promise several times when he said, “No matter what, the Fishing Pier will be rebuilt.”


VIVALDI  from The Four Seasons 





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4 degrees F. January 2004. Ocean Grove, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger © 4 degrees F. January 2004. Ocean Grove, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger ©  Click for full view
2004. Ocean Grove, NJ. by Paul Goldfinger © Left click for full view 2004. Ocean Grove, NJ. by Paul Goldfinger © Click for full view

By Paul Goldfinger, M.D.  Editor Blogfinger.net.   Re-posted.   Update 2021.

On May 2, 2013, we posted Part I of our piece about the Ocean Grove fishing pier,  “a historic landmark in a historic town.”  Here is a link:

What’s With the Fishing Pier? Part I: A citizen’s guide to the 2nd oldest structure in the Grove.

At the end of that part I article we discussed some of the more recent history of the pier and of the  Ocean Grove Fishing Club, also a historic entity dating back to the late 19th century.

We posted part II late in 2013.  That is below followed by an important 2021 update.

It would be best to pick up the story in December 1992 when a huge nor’easter destroyed most of the pier and some of the boardwalk. Only a small portion at the end of the pier was left, and the Fishing Clubhouse was carried out to sea.  The Club’s activities were curtailed until 1994 when the pier was rebuilt by the Fishing Club which obtained a Small Business Loan from the Government.  They borrowed $277,000 which was paid off by the Club members.

In exchange for that financial commitment, the only quid pro quo was that the Camp Meeting Association would grant them a 30 year lease extending out to 2024.

The mortgage was paid off a few years ago.  Note that the Club has always paid the property taxes for the pier, even though the property is still legally owned by the CMA.

Fast forward to August, 2011, when a hurricane named Irene damaged the fishing pier causing destruction of 9 pilings and 20 feet of pier. The boardwalk was not harmed.

The Camp Meeting Association applied to FEMA for $150,000 to make repairs to the pier, but the request was denied.

In a Blogfinger article  by Charles Layton (10/22/12)  about this matter, Mr. Ralph del Campo of the CMA is quoted as saying “The rejection was because the Fishing Club area is private.”

Once again the OG Fishing Club proposed to finance the reconstruction work if they could be granted an extension of the lease for another 30 years.

Link to 10/22/12 Blogfinger article about 2011 Irene damage to pier

Negotiations between the two sides moved slowly, and finally a decision by the CMA was to be presented on October 29, 2012, ironically the day that Sandy hit.  That meeting was never held.

Since Sandy, the Fishing Club has met with the CMA, but the CMA has not been willing to make a commitment regarding the future of the Fishing Club which still has 11 years on its lease.  The only thing that they will say with certainty is that they will rebuild the pier.

At this point  (2013,) the Fishing Club has lost some members, dropping down to 100.  Again, it has offered to finance the rebuilding of the pier, but the CMA has expressed concerns about that financing arrangement and will not agree to the proposal at this time. Mr. Del Campo estimates that the pier will cost between $750,000 to $1 million, although the Fishing Club members think it could be less.

Mr. Del Campo will not discuss the pier situation beyond what he has said already.  If the CMA has more specific plans for the pier, it has not revealed those plans publicly.

At a meeting of the Fishing Club Board of Trustees today  (May, 2013,)  we heard some frustration  expressed.  The members can’t understand why the CMA would refuse their offer to pay.  “Where is the downside of accepting our offer?” asked one member. “We are willing to foot the bill.”  The members pointed out that the 1992 nor’easter was a similar situation, and the club kept all its promises including paying off the loan   “There is a precedent,” said one of the trustees.

The Fishing Club views itself as being “good citizens” of Ocean Grove, always supportive of the town including a $5,000.00 donation to the Phase 1 rebuilding effort.   They say, “We want what’s best for the community.”  Their frustrations can be heard in their comments including: “We’re very disappointed.  We’re  saddened and perplexed.  What are their intentions? They don’t want to engage us. This is a stalemate.”

The Fishing Club trustees refuse to consider their organization as a private club.  They say that anyone can be a member, and the only reason for limiting the membership has to do with size—-“engineering and safety issues.”

Since 2011, the famous “teaching kids to fish program” has been curtailed. The group thinks that their history and their record of being a “community within a community” needs to be recognized.

What if the Fishing Club is not reinstated on the pier?  This is something they do not want to consider, but if it happens, they will continue as a surf-fishing club, but without the kids—it would be too risky and there would have to be lifeguards, rescue boats, etc.

President Al Dawson points out that Asbury Park and Bradley Beach have fishing clubs, but no piers.  However, continuing a fishing pier  tradition in the Grove that is at least 115 years old is the only way to satisfy these OG fishermen and fisherwomen.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  May 21, 2013.  Besides the members of the OGFC and the management of the OGCMA, I don’t know how many of you actually care about the intricate details of this situation.  However, after another interview with Mr. Ralph Del Campo of the OGCMA, I have to clarify a few points.

First, the FEMA denial for funds to restore the fishing pier after Irene (2011)  was not due to the presence of a private club at the end of the pier.  That is what the October article in BF said, but Mr. Del Campo believes there was a misunderstanding.

Instead, the denial in 2011 was because the pier was defined as a recreational facility owned by a private nonprofit organization.

The only difference now  (2013),  post Sandy,  is that financing for  both the pier and the boardwalk were denied by FEMA because they are deemed recreational and owned by a private nonprofit.

Second, regarding the OG Fishing Club, Mr. Del Campo says that he cannot accept an agreement now with the OGFC until he has “clarity” regarding the FEMA appeal.  He says that there are “four or five scenarios” which could develop regarding financing  which could  influence decisions about the Fishing Club.  He said, “Once we have clarity we will talk to the Fishing Club and entertain all options.”

He reminded me that in 1992, when the OGFC financed the reconstruction of the pier, the collateral for that financing was the Camp Meeting Association itself. This is the first time that fact has been mentioned in this dialogue.  So here is yet another variable to consider.

Mr. Del Campo says that he is working on “parallel sequential decision trees” which make a final decision impossible at this time. One variable that he acknowledges is that he has not seen a formal, concrete financing commitment  from the Fishing Club.  If one were to materialize now, he says that he would consider it. His working understanding, based on engineering analysis, is that  the job will cost $750,000-$1,000,000.

I think I have laid out the facts, so at this point, May, 2013, the two parties need to talk to each other.  Either party may, of course, comment below.—–Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger.

Editor’s note January 20, 2018:     *Eventually FEMA approved boardwalk funding in 2014, but they did not approve the request for public funds to rebuild the pier, and there was no appeal because the CMA did not want to rattle the cages in Washington once again.

The CMA has placed the pier reconstruction at the bottom of their priority list, and currently the North End boardwalk work is about to begin. At no time has the CMA bailed out on their promise to eventually restore the pier.

As for the Fishing Club’s current status, we have no information, but if that group still exists, they are welcome to comment below.

August 2021 update:   I may have missed something, but if you actually read Michael Badger’s welcoming statement on page 1 of the 2021 Summer Program Guide, he says, “Architects are drawing up the plans for restoring the pier so that the OGCMA can begin the process of getting permits.”

About a year ago a design for a new pier was publicized.  It was in the shape of a cross.  We don’t know if that is still gospel, but such a design could be practical in offering more space for fishermen. We had a discussion on BF about pier design. I’ll find the link.

But we must go back to the post Sandy era when FEMA refused to pay to fix the pier.  You will recall the “public vs private” debates as FEMA tried to figure out what to do.  And back in 2007 there were debates about discrimination on the part of the CMA.

So, when it comes to the pier, the 800 pound gorilla in the room  which has not been discussed publicly is whether OG will ever again permit a private fishing club at the end of the pier.

Our impression is that such a segregated concept will never happen again, because the pier is a public thoroughfare.    Add to the mix the agreement to lease the end for the Fishing Club extends to 2024.

As Uncle Milty would say,  “What the hey.”

JOHN COLTRANE  “Say It Over and Over Again.”

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November 3, 2012. Ocean Grove, New Jersey. One of the first fishermen to return. By Paul Goldfinger. Copyright. Click left for full view

November 3, 2012.  5 days after Sandy.  Ocean Grove, New Jersey. One of the first fishermen to return. By Paul Goldfinger  ©. Re-posted from January,2013. Click for full view.  See the comments for some photographic notes.



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October 30, 2012, 7:45 am. Rear of Great Auditorium.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©.

October 30, 2012, 7:45 am. Rear of Great Auditorium. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.

GA roof on the morning of  Tuesday, October 30, 2012. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Great Auditorium  roof on the morning of Tuesday, October 30, 2012, one day after Sandy hit. The photo does not show the front side damage.  This portion of the roof is on the north side.     Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

BF roof story Nov. 5, 2012

BF roof story Jan 14, 2014

The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association is ready to complete work on the Great Auditorium roof, but they have had daunting problems deciding about which material to use.  Their plan had been to obtain zinc coated stainless steel material, but manufacturing challenges have prevented that.  JP Gradone, COO of the OGCMA, sent us the comment below in response to a Blogfinger inquiry yesterday.

“Our insurance company has recently agreed to pay for the installation of a temporary EPDM rubber roof on the damaged area while we continue to work closely with the insurance company to find a permanent solution to resolvethe situation with the roofing material.  The temporary roof was completed this week  and gives the Great Auditorium an excellent short-term solution while we carefully determine the best material for the permanent roof.”

EPDM rubber roofing on the south side.  Blogfinger photos

EPDM rubber roofing on the south side. Blogfinger photos

EPDM rubber roofing on the north side.

EPDM rubber roofing on the north side.


One year ago we wrote about the Woody Allen movie “Stardust Memories.”  Here is a link to that article because it shows the Great Auditorium decked out as the Stardust Hotel for that 1980 film which Allen considers one of his best.


And for this article about the GA roof, here is a version of “Stardust,” a song by Hoagy Carmichael,  that was performed by Louis Armstrong in the movie.

But now, in 2015, we present a contemporary jazz version of “Stardust,” an instrumental, by Warren Vaché on trumpet  (a Jersey boy,)  Derek Watkins, and the Brian Lemon Quartet.




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Shark River Hills.  November 1, 2012.  Comitteeman Randy Bishop comforts a resident after scavengers try buy her furniture drying outside.   By Paul Goldfinger

Shark River Hills. November 1, 2012—two days after Sandy hit.   Committeeman Randy Bishop comforts a tearful resident after scavengers try to buy her furniture drying outside. By Paul Goldfinger  @Blogfinger.net ©

MAUDE MAGGART  sings Irving Berlin:

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Are you going to snap that photo, or what?  Paul Goldfinger photo on the new OG boards. July, 2014. ©

Are you going to snap that photo, or what? Paul Goldfinger photo on the new OG boards. July, 2014. ©  click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Life at the shore has been energized by our new boardwalk in Ocean Grove. Compared to the summer of 2013, this one is amazing.  There is so much going on there. You should all go onto the boardwalk and walk there, if you haven’t done so already.   You can run around and act goofy, you can walk or jog, or. like the young lady above, you can merely stand still and stare at me, or, like the guy on the bench, you can snooze.  But the thing is, like Jack, the boards are back!

I’m trying to document that theme, and  if you do, send us the photographs by email to blogfinger@verizon.net

CAROL WEISMAN.   From a tribute to Benny Goodman:


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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

Friday afternoon.  May 30, 2014.  Ocean Grove’s Middle Beach Boardwalk Project is underway—full steam ahead.

J.P. Gradone, COO of the CMA, had it right when he recently said, “It’s like when you build a house. Once the foundation is done, the framing goes real fast.”


The view from the south end of the project.  All photos  and video by Paul Goldfinger ©

The view from the south end of the project.  Note the horizontal supports which are set into the piles.  All photos and video by Paul Goldfinger ©


And so it goes for the OG  boardwalk project which seemed to be dragging in recent weeks during the excavation phase when the infrastructure was created including exposing the rusty hulk of a bulkhead.  The boardwalk was to be set into place west of its prior location so that it could be behind the reinforced bulkhead.

But now, a busy crew is going full speed down there as they drive piles rapidly into the ground using a very tall machine that looks like the Parachute Jump at Coney Island. As each pile is driven into place, the machine seems to slow down, take a deep breath and then belch out some dark smoke—only to move onto the next one without delay.

Then those piles are set upon by a team of burly guys who create notches in the piles to receive  horizontal thick wood beams.    After that the components are sandwiched together, and the workers  use  long strong drill bits to chew into the wood rapidly, creating holes for the galvanized steel bolts which hold it all together. Then steel washers and nuts are cranked in place using hand operated big wrenches.  Notches have also been placed into the steel bulkhead to receive the horizontal members on the ocean side.

Bolts out of the blue. ©

Bolts out of the blue  attach the horizontal beams to the pilings.  ©


There is no doubt now that this project will be completed on time.  Even the Boardwalk Watchers Association can see that.

The Boardwalk Watchers' Association. An ad hoc group keeping an eye on things.  The regular OG hoc groups are missing.  ©

The Boardwalk Watchers’ Association. An ad hoc group keeping an eye on things.  ©  Click left to join the fun.


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Ocean Grove, New Jersey  By Paul Goldfinger ©

Ocean Grove, New Jersey By Paul Goldfinger © Click left

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

In a huge announcement today, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association disclosed that  “we are now an official FEMA project.”  According to Camp Meeting COO J.P. Gradone, “The funding is there, and we will receive 90%”  just like all the other Jersey Shore towns who were given Sandy disaster aid.

A meeting was held today at CMA headquarters  which was attended by representatives of FEMA,  our 4th District Congressman Chris Smith, and state historic and environmental officials.

All in attendance agreed that there were some hurdles in the road ahead related to environmental and historic permits, but everyone pledged to “fast track” those barriers so that work on the Middle Beach phase one project could begin.  These permissions relate largely to the fact that the middle boardwalk has to be placed 30 feet to the west to get it behind the existing bulkhead as protection against future storms.

Most of the planning has already been completed thanks to the anticipatory work done by the CMA’s engineers and advisors.  Once permits are done and FEMA has approved the plans, bids will go out and a time-table set up.

FEMA will agree to the entire budget of about $3.2-3.3 million. Phase one will cost $1.4 million, and the CMA should be able to be reimbursed for at least some of the $500,000 already spent at both ends of the boardwalk.  Meanwhile, the Neptune Bond issue will be completed soon.

Down the line, the other phases will be implemented including the fishing pier and the north end accesses.

Mr. Gradone told Blogfinger, in an exclusive interview,  that everyone at 54 Pitman Avenue is thrilled, and certainly this result vindicates the persistent and optimistic approach of those at the Camp Meeting Association along with Neptune Township officials, Together Fund people, Governor Chris Christie and his staff, Rep. Chris Smith, State Senator  Jennifer Beck, State Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande and State Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini.

We wondered what all those political people were doing  and now we see the result 15 months after Sandy clobbered our beachfront.

This is the before picture of Middle Beach.  The after picture is in our minds.   PG photo

This is the before picture of Middle Beach. The after picture has suddenly materialized  in our minds. Paul  Goldfinger  photo, 2013.   ©

Some citizens in Ocean Grove thought that it was ridiculous to keep reapplying for help, but  acting COO Ralph delCampo, President Dale Whilden, and Director of Operations William “Bill” Bailey were steadfast in their persistence and positive approach. They refused to give up, and they just kept trying, along with the help of many consultants and experts guiding the way.

Mr. delCampo was a powerful leader for the effort, and his wonderful mediation and people skills kept the good ship “Ocean Grove” on course.   He was the John Phillip Sousa for our town marching band as they accomplished something that was so difficult—to change the mind of a huge federal agency, and they did it with intelligence, patience, good humor, and honesty, and perhaps some skid greasing by friends behind the scenes.

At Blogfinger, commenters berated us for repeatedly beating the bass drum to the rhythm of justice and common sense, but to be honest, we could not bear the illogic and unfairness of it all.

As with the recent FEMA eligibility decision, it will take the Camp Meeting Association some time to pull all the loose ends together, but victory is won, and the people of Ocean Grove are vindicated.  This is a great day for our little town.

JOHN PHILLIP SOUSA and THE MARINE BAND:  “The Stars and Stripes Forever”

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View of the beachfront looking south on Jan. 12, 2014.  All photos by Paul Goldfinger  @Blogfinger ©

View of the beachfront, Ocean Grove, NJ,  looking south.   Jan. 12, 2014. All photos by Paul Goldfinger @Blogfinger ©  Click left for all these images.

The great seal of the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Iliinois.

The great seal of the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Iliinois.

Sunday, January 12, 2014.  Ocean Grove.      By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor@ Blogfinger.

Did you ever see those photos of the beaches at Normandy after the landings?  Well they were swamped with equipment and personnel. I was reminded of that today when we got a look at the Ocean Grove beach, towards the North End.  There were many pieces of equipment already there, including large earthmoving machines and big metal pipes.  The work  area was marked off, and a security detail was there to make sure that no one enters beyond the markers.  This is a safety concern.

Dredging equipment at the OG beach.

Pipe and shovel are tools of the dredging trade. This is truly a “shovel ready” project. ©  Blogfinger

The contractor is the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company from Oak Brook, Illinois, one of the wealthiest towns in America.  This company has been in business since 1890 and they are the largest dredging company in the country.  They are on the NASDQ.

Security guard. This is his profession. He works for Great Lakes Co. but he lives in Middletown.

Security guard. This is his profession, and there will be security on the beach 24/7.    Click left.   © Blogfinger

We spoke to one of the security men (above)  who said that he works for Great Lakes exclusively.  He lives in Middletown.  I was about to ask him if I could walk into the middle of things when he chased two beach walkers away.  That ended that request.  A supervisor rode up in a dune buggy. He told me that they were ready to go as soon as their dredging ship arrived.  Just then he spotted a barge out at the horizon. He took a good look and then said, “No, it’s not ours.”

Internet photo shows a Great Lakes dredging boat.

Internet photo shows a Great Lakes dredging boat.

JOLIET (Illinois)  BOUND:   Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton.  The Blues Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center  .

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Keeping eyes on the beach at Asbury Park  (summer 2013)  Paul Goldfinger photo  ©

Keeping eyes on the beach at Asbury Park (summer 2013). Where are those soldiers?   Paul Goldfinger photo ©


We have received a bulletin from Mr. J.P. Gradone, COO of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association:

“According to our meeting with the Army Corp. of Engineers and the contractor, the dredging ship was delayed due to weather and other scheduling conflicts. They are due to arrive this weekend (1/11).  The line is still set to come in around Surf Ave. in Ocean Grove.  They will pump material 2000 feet north up to around 1st and 2nd Ave. in Asbury Park next week.

Within the next two weeks, they should begin to pump material 2000 feet south of the Surf Ave. line, covering most of Ocean Grove.  The remaining southern portion of Ocean Grove will be done in collaboration with the Bradley Beach work, which is tentatively scheduled for March.”

Editor’s Note:  : There should be some good shelling when this project begins. Go to the beach with a bag  and a little rake.  A metal detector might reveal some treasure. Perhaps coins from a Spanish galleon, or maybe some bottles from prohibition a la Boardwalk Empire.  —-PG

Here is a link to our December article about Mr. Gradone:    Link about the CMA’s new COO

NORMAN BLAKE (soundtrack from the Coen Brothers film   “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?  “):

THE CHORDETTES:  “Mr. Sandman, bring me some sand…”

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