Archive for the ‘Hurricane Sandy in Ocean Grove’ Category

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.



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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.

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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.”   

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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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Trawler pumps sand onto the beach.  Bob Bowné photo.  Special to Blogfinger. Feb. 1, 2014 ©

Trawler pumps sand onto the beach. Seagulls chow down.   Bob Bowné photo. Special to Blogfinger. Feb. 1, 2014 ©

Backhoes and bulldozers move the sand around.  Bob Bowné photo   ©

Backhoes and bulldozers move the sand around. Bob Bowné photo ©

By Bob Bowné, reporting and photographing from the OG beachfront.

The actual beach sand replenishment has finally started in Ocean Grove.  The Army Corps of Engineers are beginning at the north end of town.

You can see the trawler, full of sand,  off the beach. At  the bow of the ship the pipe is seen entering the water, and that pipe comes all the way onto the beach.  The trawler is pumping furiously, the smoke from the engines rising off the ship.

In the foreground, the pipe comes ashore spewing sand and water onto the beach.  There is a big cage over the end  to catch debris.

I think there’s a lot of seagull  food coming out of there as well, attracting a congregation of birds waiting for lunch.

Finally  the backhoes and the bulldozers move the new sand where it needs to go.

It appears that as the ship finishes empying its load, it disconnects from the pipe and then another trawler full of sand sails in, hooks up to the pipe, and the pumping starts all over again.

Quite an impressive process!  They had a good day for it today—-sunny, warmer, and the ocean is VERY calm…which I am sure facilitates the process.

And what makes it even more satisfying, Uncle Sand is paying for the entire project.

KATHY BRIER  from Boardwalk Empire


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Dec 9, 2012. Haven't the people of  OG waited long enough?   Blogfinger photo ©

Dec 9, 2012. Haven’t the people of OG waited long enough? Blogfinger photo ©

In December, before Ralph delCampo, interim COO of the OGCMA,  led an Ocean Grove/Neptune Township delegation to FEMA headquarters in Washington, he said that finally we will get a yes or no answer and thus could move ahead with the boardwalk restoration project, “one way or another.”

When he returned, he felt that the meeting with top FEMA officials had been successful in explaining the importance of our boardwalk as a public thoroughfare and in convincing them of the unique relationship between Neptune Township and the OGCMA in terms of doing what’s best for the public welfare.

Well today, we learn that Mr. delCampo did succeed in “winning the appeal” because FEMA announced that the OGCMA is “eligible for assistance” in funding the boardwalk project.  This means that there will be no more talk about our boardwalk being ineligible due to a recreational designation.

However, it seems we now have a murky situation  instead of a definitive answer. In order to find out if any Sandy  “restore the shore” money will be earmarked for the Grove, the CMA will  need to obtain “clarification” regarding what additional steps might stand in their way.  So Mr. delCampo will not be getting the yes or no answer he sought.

Having gotten over a large hurdle, the CMA will probably be facing more  bumps in the road.  The CMA officials are pleased that they have “won” their second appeal, and they view it a positive ruling, but now they must reconsider their entire strategy, since FEMA sent that letter today without enclosing a check.

This new FEMA designation for our boardwalk  will set a precedent which will be helpful in the future if there are more disasters, but, for the short term, it might cut off some alternative funding ideas that could be short-circuited now that FEMA is still in the game.

Meanwhile, the OGCMA will do everything in its power to fulfill the promise to get the Middle Beach Boardwalk done by  summer.

As for the citizens of Ocean Grove, how about swamping the Governor, Rep Smith, our Senators and anyone else you can thing of with letters asking them to exploit this ruling and demand funding for OG.  We’ve been treated unfairly for too long.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

ROD STEWART with CHER:  “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”

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Replenishment one.  By Bob Bowne. ©  Click left.

Replenishment one.  ©   Special to Blogfinger.  Click left.

Replenishment 2.  By Bob Bowne.  Special to Blogfinger  ©  Click left

Replenishment 2. The security guard is Dion Geuren.   Special to Blogfinger © Click left

Photographs by Bob Bowné of Ocean Grove, NJ

MARGOT BINGHAM:  From HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks  (Somebody loves me…I wonder who—maybe it’s the Army Corps)

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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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J.P. Gradone (L) COO and Dale Whilden, President at work at the OGCMA offices. DEc, 2013.  Paul Goldfinger photo.

J.P. Gradone (L) COO and Dale Whilden, President, at work at the OGCMA offices. Dec 11, 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Mr. J.P. Gradone, the new COO/Executive Director of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, moved into town in November with his wife Cheryl  (pronounced CHeryl–like CHerry) and began work at Pitman and Pilgrim.  He has a lovely office on the corner, so he can look in two directions at the visual delights of Auditorium Park and a beauty parlor.   The Gradones moved here from Tennessee where he presided over a 3,000 member church and Christian school.  (BF link about JP Gradone ).  His name is really John Paul  (Mrs. Gradone gave us that scoop).  She calls him “J.P.”  I don’t have a middle name, so I told her to call me” P”

His predecessor interim  COO Ralph del Campo has been running with the FEMA ball for over one year, and now he has first and goal, so he will stay in the game, and Mr. Gradone will work on other tasks such as beach replenishment and warming up the place kicker.

Unknown-7Mr. Gradone just came back from a meeting about the Ocean Grove part of the beach replenishment project. He said that he received “quite an education” on the subject at the meeting which was attended by the Dept. of Environmental Protection and experts regarding the Transatlantic Cable.  Oddly enough the telecommunication cable travels over 8,000 miles to wind up in Avon-By-the-Sea of all places—at Sylvan Lake— New Jersey.  Mr. Gradone was astonished to learn this news, and so were we.

They must have great TV reception over there in Avon. The TA Cable will be carefully protected during work on the Avon beach.   No wonder that blue heron showed up there .  Even the birds are amazed!  (On BF  Carl finds a bird  )

The project is finishing up near Sandy Hook and Long Branch and will then move south to Avon-By-the-Cable.  Then they will head north again and get to Bradley Beach followed by Ocean Grove.

When the Army Corps starts work here  they will rope off 1000 ft. at a time, but the rest of the beach will be accessible to walkers. The work should be started “sometime after the first of the year.” We expect that would be 2014.

Grovers down by the beach can expect some noise and some sand up their noses.  The Army Corps will work 24/7,  so Mr. Gradone thanks you in advance for “your patience.”  He says it won’t be too bad.  When that noise arrives, you will probably wish you lived across from the Stone Pony.

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CMA logoNeptune Logo 2 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

The cooperative relationship between Neptune Township and the OGCMA on behalf of the people of Ocean Grove showed brightly  on November 7 when representatives of both groups  travelled to the  C Street  headquarters of  FEMA in Washington, DC to “have a face-to-face with high level officials .”

The Ocean Grove delegation consisted of Ralph delCampo (CMA board member and ex-interim COO,) Rick Cuttrel (Municipal Clerk)  and Mike Bascom  (Chief Financial Officer)  of Neptune Township.  And according to Mr. delCampo, the group “spoke as one for the benefit of the community and the whole region.”

Our supporters in the Governor’s office and U.S. Rep. Smith decided not to attend so as to avoid “politicizing” the event. These state and federal elected officials have been working in the background, pushing for action “in a quiet way.”

According to Mr. delCampo, in an exclusive interview today with Blogfinger, the FEMA representatives said that they have never seen such close cooperation between a private organization and a municipality.

The OG group made the case that our boardwalk is part of the fabric of Neptune Township, and the two groups work together to make sure that the citizens of Ocean Grove receive all municipal services that other nearby towns enjoy.

They explained the importance of our boardwalk as an economic engine/thoroughfare for the  town and for neighboring communities.   They covered ground heard before including the importance of the boards for public safety and rescue.  And they told FEMA that the potential consequences of not getting relief are significant.

Mr.del Campo said, “The meeting lasted one hour and went very well.”  He believes that FEMA now clearly understands the unique relationship that exists between Neptune and the CMA on behalf of the Grove. This second appeal is the final one, and we should get an answer by the end of this year. The delegation hopes that FEMA would treat us the same way that the Army Corps of Engineers is providing for beach replenishment.

Meanwhile the CMA continues to work with engineers and consultants to finalize the designs. They are ready to go to bid, but they really need the funding to be “lined up”  At this time there is no pressure to go to bid.

On another front,  the CMA has applied for federal aid which is distributed by the State of New Jersey through the Economic Development Authority. The answer on that applicaton should be  received by mid to late January.

If all that fails, other options will be considered. The CMA continues to be “totally committed “to have the Middle Beach boardwalk done by summer 2014.

Mr. delCampo continues to praise the ongoing fundraising efforts of the Together Fund which is now up to $1.6 million. He also cites  the “patience of the community and the backing of long-time supporters.”

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