Archive for the ‘Hurricane Sandy in Ocean Grove’ Category


Ocean Grove Fishing Pier, November 1, 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo.©

Ocean Grove Fishing Pier, November 1, 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo.  Click to enlarge


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net      5/21/2014.


Just when the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA) thought that everything was going right, the local FEMA project office notified the CMA that the fishing pier was ruled ineligible for FEMA public assistance because it is entirely recreational (unlike the boardwalk) and it falls under the rules for nonprofit entities.  This notification was received on May 16,  2014.


At a meeting tonight with the Community Leaders Group, COO J.P. Gradone announced this disturbing news. He said, “It shocked and disappointed us.”


“However,” he said, “We have a positive working relationship with FEMA and we will appeal.” Once again, the Governor’s office will supply consultants to help the CMA navigate these suddenly stormy waters.  He also said, “We plan to pursue available assistance through other federal, state and charitable resources to complement potential FEMA funding.”


The CMA had attended several recent meetings with the local FEMA office regarding the three-phased project (1= middle beach; 2=North End; and 3=fishing pier,) and at those meetings the CMA received verbal commitments for all 3 phases. Mr. Gradone said, “There was no indication that there would be anything but total project approval for the 3 phases.”


However, in March, during the process of expediting the middle beach phase, the fishing pier phase 3 was removed from the project plan.   At first this just seemed like routine paper work, but it actually was the beginning of a broken promise. Unfortunately , none of the written communications from FEMA ever formally mentioned the fishing pier. The estimated cost of the fishing pier is $1.1 million.  


Attending the meeting this evening, besides the Community Leaders Group and  J.P. Gradone, were CMA President Dale Whilden and CMA official Bill Bailey.


The appeal process provides for 60 days to file an appeal to regional FEMA. The appeal will be similar to that for the boardwalk–to try to persuade them that the pier is more than just recreational. Meanwhile, the CMA has continued to place discussions about the private Fishing Club on hold.


Regarding the current status of funding for the boardwalk project (middle beach and North End), the $2.3 million has been allocated by Congress.  This is about 90% of the total needed for the Boardwalk. The rest will be provided with funds that were raised through the Ocean Grove Together Fund.


Neptune Township has issued a bond for $1.4 million to get things going at the Middle Beach, and it will be reimbursed by the CMA once the actual payment arrives from FEMA. COO Gradone said, “It’s a very complicated process, and we will work with the State while maintaining a positive attitude.”


Regarding the Together Fund’s $1.6 million, that will be used to pay towards the balance on the boardwalk, the Great Auditorium roof work (which will begin soon), and for a restoration of the Thornley Chapel. A full accounting of all these financial aspects will be presented at the Town Meeting on June 21.


Editor’s note;    3/12/23.    At Blogfinger, after Sandy, we were critical of Governor Christy for not visiting the Grove.  But it turns out that the Governor’s “people” were instrumental in getting FEMA to reverse its initial decision.  And the Governor came to the dedication ceremony.

The CMA was disappointed about the reversal regarding the pier and they could have tried another appeal, but the decision was made that another appeal may ruffle too many federal feathers.

And now (March 12, 2023)  9 years later, we see the pier about to be completed.

When the pier in the shape of a cross discussion kicked in a few years ago, some supporters said that no one could see the cross unless they were in an airplane, and it looks like they were right. It remains to be seen how the Camp Meeting will utilize the pier. Will there be fishing, and what will the rules be?   And will there be religious events there?


THE PEARLFISHERS.   “Is It Any Wonder?”    Album Across the Milky Way.


Read Full Post »


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 





Read Full Post »

Tuesday, October 30, 2012, the day after Sandy hit. By Paul Goldfinger. ©

Ocean Grove.  Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 8:00 am,  the day after Sandy hit. By Paul Goldfinger. ©  From the Memories of Sandy series.

KIRI TE KANAWA.  Album Kiri Sings Kern.

Read Full Post »

OG Beachfront. Jan. 13, 2014. by Bob Bowne

Ocean Grove beachfront.  The dredge has arrived.  January 13, 2014.   Photo by Bob Bowné. ©  Special to Blogfinger. Click to enlarge

MINDY GLEDHILL    “Winter Moon”

Read Full Post »

Portion of the boardwalk from about Heck south to Bradley. Note new flower beds.  June 4, 2015. Blogfinger photo. ©

The South End wooden Boardwalk extends from about Heck  Avenue to Bradley Beach.  Note new flower beds, recently placed as an Eagle scout project. June 4, 2015. Blogfinger photo. ©

Repaired old boardwalk just south of the Pavilion.  6/4/15 Blogfinger photo

Repaired old wooden  boardwalk  just north of the Pavilion. 6/4/15 Blogfinger photo

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

For those of you who don’t walk the boards in OG very often, especially since Sandy hit in October 2012 and then since the ribbon cutting in July 2014, you might be surprised to find out that there are significant portions of the old boardwalk still intact to the north and to the south.

Areas of boardwalk that survived Sandy  were protected by preexisting rubble and metal bulkheads.  At the North End, the original boardwalk remains, with some repairs, extending from the Pavilion north to Sea View Avenue where it meets the asphalt path that extends to the Casino. 

Wooden boardwalk meets asphalt at Sea View Avenue. (looking north) Blogfinger photo ©

Wooden boardwalk meets asphalt at Sea View Avenue. (looking north) Blogfinger photo ©

Another stretch of retained wooden boardwalk is at the South End.  You can see in the photo above that there is a nice 2 1/2 block run of traditional wood boardwalk that stretches from south of Heck Avenue to Bradley Beach.  

Those areas of original wood boardwalk did require some repairs, and now they are a monument to history.  

Sandy destroyed the Middle Beach area, and the region that had to be rebuilt extended north to the  Pavilion and south around the beach offices.  It was estimated at the time that 60% of the boardwalk was irretrievably damaged.  The first part that was fixed was near the offices and the pier.  The North End received a temporary asphalt path.

The severely damaged pier was repaired to a limited extent, and its recovery is enjoyed today, with wooden boards,  on a daily basis, although there is no fishing at the OG Non-fishing Pier.  Unfortunately, in an act of inconsistency and flip-flopping, FEMA refused to consider the pier as part of our Boardwalk Public Boulevard.

Once FEMA relief was approved and money raised by the Together Fund and by a Neptune bond offering, the new Trex Middle Beach  Boardwalk was installed in 2014.   It was built after careful attention to engineering challenges.  The OG Camp Meeting Association deserves praise for doing the job right, and we must specifically admire the fortitude and resolve of Dale Whilden, Ralph del Campo and Bill Bailey—CMA officials.

Along with the new Trex boards, new cement access walkways, stairs and other related structures were put in place. Sand dune reconstruction was started,  and now the new season has begun.

During the Memorial Day weekend, a delighted beach and boardwalk crowd enjoyed the reborn and still evolving Oceanfront.

The North End boardwalk work  is on the launching pad, and Neptune Township has provided temporary funding until FEMA writes their check.  That work will begin after the summer season when the asphalt trail will be replaced.

Major dune grass planting will be done this year. The CMA is seeking volunteers for that project.

South End island. Ocean Grove beachfront.  June 4, 2015. Blogfinger photo. ©

South End island in the sun, adjacent to the Boardwalk, at Broadway.     This “triangle” was saved by the Beautification Project after considerable Sandy damage.  Ocean Grove beachfront. June 4, 2015. Blogfinger photo. ©

Take a walk over to the Boardwalk this season and appreciate what was not destroyed by Sandy and the fine work which continues by those involved in all aspects of the rebuilding  at our beachfront.

In some ways, the Sandy devastation made Ocean Grove better; and especially we must recall and admire the spirit of volunteers, citizens, contributors, OG organizations, fundraisers, and those politicians in Neptune, Trenton and Washington who helped in the recovery.

It is said  that “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”  That idea holds true in Ocean Grove.

SHIRLEY MACLAINE:   Music by Cy Coleman; words by Dorothy Fields.

Read Full Post »


Nov. 3, 2012.  Ocean Grove beach.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge

OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW  (A tribute to John Denver)

Read Full Post »

Steppin' out on the new Ocean Grove boardwalk.  Photos by Paul Goldfinger @Blogfinger.  Click on images to enlarge.

Steppin’ out on the new Ocean Grove boardwalk. Photos by Paul Goldfinger @Blogfinger. Click on images to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net


Once the ribbon was cut, the public was allowed onto the new boardwalk. Most were milling about watching Chris Christie mingle with the crowd. A few set out to be the first to walk the boards.


We met two people who were standing on the Trex, not wondering at all what material had been used under foot.


Nina Koridek (L), Danielle Kimelstein, Cooper Pickren    Photos by Paul Goldfinger  @Blogfinger ©

Nina Koridek (L), Danielle Kimelstein, Cooper Pickren Photos by Paul Goldfinger @Blogfinger ©

Nina Koridek is a “summer resident” from Stirling, New Jersey. Her family has been coming to Ocean Grove for seven generations. She was watching the governor carefully because she is “a fan.” Nina was carrying an American flag and wearing a broad rim hat in fashionable black. She said that she wasn’t confident that FEMA would help the Grove, but now she and her family were happy to be on the new boardwalk for this ceremony. She and her son Cooper Pickren reached Governor Christie and posed for a photo with him. Cooper, a law student, got to talk a little politics with the Gov. Then they were ready to pose for a Blogfinger photo on the new boards.


Patience M. Osborn Chalmers from Spring Lake.  ©

Patience M. Osborn Chalmers from Spring Lake. ©


Patience M. Osborn Chalmers is from Spring Lake, but she loves to ride her 10 speed Schwinn into Ocean Grove and sometimes beyond to Pier Village. She confessed that she would like to ride her bike on the OG boardwalk during the day, and if a policeman stopped her, she would say, “But officer, isn’t it 3:00 am?”

Patience’s family has been in the area for numerous generations going back to around the Mayflower. (My family goes back to the Staten Island Ferry.)  She likes to volunteer with the OG Ladies Auxiliary, and her current project is to help with their book sale which will occur on the weekend of July 10. I asked her how she liked the new boardwalk, and she exclaimed, “It’s fantastic.” She said that now all the elements of our shore area boardwalks have come together, and she is thrilled to be at our opening.


Read Full Post »

Ocean Grove Beach. 11 am on October 28. iPhone image by Paul Goldfinger. ©   Click to fully appreciate the image.

Ocean Grove Beach. 11 am on October 28. iPhone image by Paul Goldfinger. © Click to fully appreciate the photo.

Sandy was well on its way on October 28, 2012,  but some shore areas were talking evacuation as early as Oct. 26.   At the OG beachfront on October 28, the curious showed up to look at the  ocean, but they could not appreciate the force of the storm which would hit early the next morning, October 29.  A lone photographer was down by the surf.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY. “Beneath Still Waters.”


Read Full Post »

Middle of the middle. Note the wooden verticals.  Paul Goldfinger photos ©  May 19, 2014  ©  Click to enlarge.

Middle of the middle. Note the wooden verticals. The trench has been filled in. Paul Goldfinger photos © May 19, 2014 © Click to enlarge.


The trench is still open near the Pavilion, so you can see what has been down for under the surface.   Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

The trench is still open near the Pavilion, so you can see what has been placed destined for under the surface. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

May 19, 2014.

A visit to the Phase One construction site late this afternoon revealed that  much of the boardwalk  excavation work  is completed. The trench that had been dug received the wooden infrastructure and was covered over with sand.  The top picture taken around the middle of the middle project shows the vertical wood piles that are being placed east of the metal bulkhead.

The second photograph is taken near the Boardwalk Pavilion where you can see what is going beneath the sand, because that part has yet to be covered over. Note how these elements tie together and will tie into the boardwalk itself.

If any of you can discuss the engineering of this project, please do so and explain these images.—–Paul Goldfinger , Editor @Blogfinger

Read Full Post »

Ocean Grove, 2013.

Ocean Grove, 2013.  Paul Goldfinger photo. Click on image to enlarge

JESSICA MOLASKEY  “Ain’t We Got Fun?”  from her album Pentimento.  First performed in a stage review Satires of 1920.



Read Full Post »

Middle Beach Bulkhead.  By Paul Goldfinger. © May, 2014

Steel bulkhead.     By Paul Goldfinger. © May, 2014

This image shows how far the boardwalk  excavation is progressing.  Lucky they found this bulkhead just in time.

BLOSSOM DEARIE.  “Just in Time”  from the 1944 Broadway hit   The Bells are Ringing.  Click on the comments button below to find the music player. Then use the return arrow to come back.

Read Full Post »

Excavation at the north end of Middle Beach. May 6, 2014.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Excavation at the north end of Middle Beach. May 6, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  click to enlarge


The subcontractor, EUC Co of Piscataway, has been excavating a trench east of the steel bulkhead. The entire bulkhead, which was discovered soon after Sandy, has been exposed. The part that you see extending the length of Middle Beach (above) looks rusty, but it is strong and it goes about 8 feet even deeper than you see in the photo.

Wood members are now being installed horizontally at the southern end, and pilings will be driven in a week or so.  The wood infrastructure will tie into the new boardwalk and into the metal bulkhead.  The boardwalk will run behind (west of)  the bulkhead.

FEMA had stopped work for a few days last week over a bureaucratic technicality, but now it is full speed ahead.

After I took this photo, a very big guy in a hardhat chased me away. He was not impressed that I am from Blogfinger,  a member of the press corps.

—Paul @Blogfinger

THE MOUND CITY BLUE BLOWERS.  “Thanks a Million.”   

Read Full Post »

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”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »