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Carousel at Seaside Heights--Exit 82. Did someone say carousel? Send in the clowns. Paul Goldfinger photo

Carousel at Seaside Heights–Exit 82. Did someone say carousel? Send in the clowns. Paul Goldfinger photo

Seaside Heights. By Paul Goldfinger. ©

Seaside Heights. By Paul Goldfinger. ©

There is an alarming article in today’s Coaster, unsigned by a reporter, and on page 19. It states that a portion of the public Seaside Heights beach, 1.37 valuable acres, is going to be sold to a private developer.  According to the article, this was permitted by the State of New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection and by State House Commission.

The property is worth millions, but the price tag, the items that the town of Seaside Heights will get for the land include:  a carousel which is being phased out, a parking lot along the boardwalk—half the size of the beach being sold, and 67 acres of undeveloped wetlands worth $4,100 per acre.  This sounds outrageous.

It is amazing that this story hasn’t prompted a major investigation by the State and the County.  

It is reminiscent of 1986 in Ocean Grove when the CMA wanted to sell land by Fletcher Lake, along the beach, to build a condo high rise.   That proposal was beaten back by the people. We wrote about that story earlier this year.

In Ocean Grove we also have been sensitized by the shenanigans related to the possible re-development of our North End.

The Seaside Heights proposal is being challenged by a lawsuit brought by the American Littoral Society, Inc. and by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. Where are the citizens of Seaside Heights and where is the Governor who saw to it that they received funding after Sandy to rebuild the beachfront?

What sort of backroom deal allowed this to happen?

The people of Ocean Grove should keep an eye on this story, and if you hear anything, please share with us.  See the comment below which contains a link to more details.—-Paul Goldfinger,  Editor  @Blogfinger

PAPA BUE’S VIKING JAZZBAND:

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 Long Branch boards reopen. NJ.com

Long Branch boards reopen. NJ.com

Dave Philo of Ocean Grove sent us this NJ.com article by reporter Rob Spahr.

The Long Branch mayor was in no hurry to rebuild after Sandy.  He wanted to be careful with the design for their one mile boardwalk.

Long Branch widened their boards from 10 feet to 16-20 feet.  The piles elevated it to 25-30 feet above sea level for protection from future super storms.  Mayor Adam Schneider  said that most Jersey Shore boardwalks were at sea level.

The mayor  said, “Building codes work,” noting that  structures which were up on pilings survived Sandy. The final cost was less than initially thought, winding up at $19 million, and FEMA paid for 90%.

Dave wondered why OG wasn’t considered to be the last boardwalk to be completed, but he wasn’t too eager for the title, because “it would be a dubious distinction.”

MEL TILLIS:

 

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Seaside Heights.  October 12, 2015.  By Paul Goldfinger ©. Blogfinger.net.

Seaside Heights. October 12, 2015. By Paul Goldfinger ©. Blogfinger.net. Click to improve your chances.  

GEORGE JONES

 

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B9317446230Z.1_20150521194056_000_G7FAS0Q9C.1-0

REBECCA LUKER

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That famous Freedman's corner in Belmar, New Jersey

That famous Freedman’s corner in Belmar, New Jersey. Internet photo

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor  @Blogfinger

Mark Freedman is a 5th generation baker whose roots go back to Russia, but whose American story begins when his father Herbert opened up his first bakery in Belmar, on the same corner as it is now, in 1949.

Mark Freedman in front of the Belmar flagship Freedman's Bakery.

Mark Freedman in front of the Belmar flagship Freedman’s Bakery. All photos by Paul Goldfinger (except the top image) September 2013.  ©

Over the years, Freedman’s Bakeries became Jersey Shore favorites for their high quality products  with an Eastern European twist.  Even today, people go out of their way to get a Kniep roll  with butter and coffee.  Their breads, challahs, babkas, strudels, Linzer tarts, elephant ears, salt sticks, cheese Danish, hamentashen and apple cakes are still the best around,  and in their flagship and only remaining store, you can actually sit at a table in the greenhouse and enjoy a snack or lunch on those tables with the coffee cups painted on top—Andy Worhol would love it.

A work of art: a fresh, buttered onion roll at Freeman's.

A work of art: a fresh, buttered onion roll at Freedman’s. ©

At one time Freedman’s had  42 stores in the area, but, in recent years they downsized. As they reduced the number of retails stores, they increased their wholesale business.  They also developed a bakery equipment business.

Recently it was reported that they would close for good, and the nostalgic lamentations began.  However, things are a bit murky at this point.  The company that is buying the building on that famous corner is planning to place a micro brewery there, but they are months away due to permits and other holdups.

Meanwhile, Freedman’s will continue operating, and they are currently taking orders for long viewThanksgiving.

We went over there today to sip coffee, eat buttered onion rolls and talk to Mark Freedman, and we heard that the 5th generation baker isn’t eager to give up Freedman’s Bakery business—-only the building.  He is currently scouting the area for another location for his operation, including a retail outlet, and he would like to stay in this area.

The big sign outside is a shore history treasure, and Mark hopes to find a home for it.

Meanwhile, if you are a fan, then keep the hope alive and you still can go over there and enjoy. You might consider freezing a few of their challahs  (Jewish braided egg breads–which make, according to Eileen and me, the BEST French toast.)

Mark and his father Herbert are “very proud” of their long history and of the high quality of their products.  He said, “We are very sad to close this location.”

THE BIRD AND THE BEE.  From the movie “Valentine’s Day”

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Mantoloking. Photo by Paul Goldfinger. August 2013.  ©

Mantoloking. Photo by Paul Goldfinger. August 2013. ©

This town is still in bad shape.  Heavy equipment is busy at work creating giant sand dunes to protect against the next storm.  Some buildings are still wreckages. Others are being raised onto high piers. Contractors can be seen rebuilding.  Traffic going out of the Seaside/Lavalette area is slow.  —-Paul Goldfinger

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN   “Wrecking Ball”

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Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2013, front page of the Greater New York section.

Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2013, front page of the Greater New York section. Photograph is misleading. *

A more accurate photo from the same location.  Blogfinger photo

A more accurate photo from the same location. Showing a human on the boardwalk,  cars along Ocean Ave, a portion of surviving boards, and a big beautiful beach—a much more inviting place than depicted  above in the WSJ.  Blogfinger photo

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

In 2001, The National Geographic came to Ocean Grove as part of a series called, “ZipUSA.”  They were going around the country focusing on different zip codes. I guess they decided that Ocean Grove would be interesting because of the religious component.  So they called the article “God’s Square Mile” and they referred to the Grove as a “bible wielding beach town.”  Although they did mention that other kinds of people were living in town, their theme was determined to be a religious town that hadn’t changed much over the years.   The accuracy of the report was sacrificed to a predetermined narrative agenda.

I thought of that recently as one news outlet after another got the story of our post-Sandy struggles all wrong.  We have reported on the recent inaccuracies found in the New York Times and the Asbury Park Sun as it relates to the FEMA denial. (The Times also described Ocean Grove as a Methodist town within the town of Neptune—another wrong fact.)

This item appeared in the NJ NewsCommons out of Montclair State University on March 22, 2013:

“Down in Asbury Park, we have one media outlet critiquing another. Blogfinger’s Paul Goldfinger references an Asbury Park Sun story on the Asbury Park Council’s decision not to support Ocean Grove’s FEMA request but says that “the reporter who wrote the piece got the last sentence totally wrong…. The FEMA denial had nothing to do with the fact that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association is a private, nonprofit. It was about the FEMA  definition of the boardwalk as a recreational venue.” NJTV went into the weeds on that distinction in its March 20 NJToday program.”

Here is that  report from NJ Today  (by Lauren  Wanko) dated March 20.  She was one of the few who got it right.  NJ Today link     At that time, many media outlets  repeated that same inaccurate mantra without fact checking for themselves, despite an accurate press release issued by the OGCMA after the Feb. 6, 2013 FEMA denial.

Then there was the inaccurate use of a photograph of Ocean Grove on the front page of the Coaster, which suggested the wrong idea that we had failed to restore our town.  Link to the BF article about the Coaster

An article in USA Today  (Feb  7, 2013,  by Bill Bowman of the Asbury Park Press) said, “In its decision, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the boardwalk, destroyed in superstorm Sandy, did not qualify for federal aid because the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, considered a private nonprofit organization, owns it.”

Last week, Mr. Ralph delCampo of the CMA told me that the Wall Street Journal had come to speak to him about the OG  Sandy problems.  So yesterday, on the front page of the Greater New York section*, was another photo  (see above) of a devastated Ocean Grove which serves as the poster child for a town that has not recovered at all.   The photo was composed in a way that would illustrate a pre-determined inaccurate news fact.  It illustrates  how corrupted  news photography can distort the truth.

I went back to that spot on our boardwalk. It is in the “middle beach” area, about a block south of the Pavilion where the existing boardwalk ends.  The WSJ  photo shows  no evidence of existing boardwalk or even of human life. It just shows sand and some cockeyed lamps which are temporarily askew like some drunken sailors.   But unlike the Coaster, at least this story offered a caption that was helpful and one sentence on page two which said, “In Ocean Grove, most of the boardwalk is back , and the beach is open.”  But how many just viewed the photo and how many turned the page to read the fine print?

What amazes me lately is that none of media have taken an interest in our very unique situation here in the Grove regarding the FEMA denial.     There is a good chance that no other shore town was refused funding by FEMA to reconstruct a boardwalk.  There has been so much press lately about how the Jersey Shore has rebuilt itself, that no one in the media wants to spoil that narrative and very few, including Blogfinger, have tried to get the FEMA facts straight.

Comments on Blogfinger reveal that even some Grovers don’t understand what has happened with respect to the FEMA situation. It is not an easy matter to understand.  We’ve got people from OG  trying to turn this thing into another gay-CMA war about the Pavilion. Others suggest that perhaps the CMA has been targeted by big government for political reasons.   BF even got the facts wrong in our October 2012 article about hurricane Irene and our issues with FEMA at that time.

But this current  situation is  fascinating, complicated  and quite unusual, yet where are the journalists who ought to be chasing this story around?  I think they are not because they are too  lazy and unprofessional  to wonder about what the heck is going on here and they don’t want to  disrupt the nice story line that we see and hear everywhere.  Some journalist ought to be in Washington making some inquiries.

Why doesn’t the media wonder why we still have the middle of our oceanfront looking like the beach at Normandy after D-Day?  Why don’t they investigate  how FEMA decides who gets paid?   This could prove to be an important national story played out in a small New Jersey shore town.

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

*Credit:  Andy Levine of OG for alerting us to the WSJ photo.

JUDY COLLINS.  “Send in the Clowns” by Stephen Sondheim:

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October 31, 2012. Reality TV Magazine photo

October 31, 2012. Reality TV Magazine photo

Friday, May 24:    The President will tour the damage to the shore and see how the recovery effort is going.  The exact locations of his visit have not been announced. He was last here on October 31, 2012, two days after Sandy hit.  So far, FEMA has spend over $1 billion on restoration efforts in addition to $1.3 billion on families affected by the storm, according to the Asbury Park Press this morning.

Pres. Obama to visit shore APP link

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Mantoloking home in Barneget Bay still sits there.  Huffington Post.

Mantoloking home in Barneget Bay still sits there. AP.

By Paul Goldfinger

In an article in the New York Times several days ago, a new problem related to Superstorm Sandy was described:  vacationers are not renting houses at the Jersey Shore this summer for a variety of reasons.   One is that many of the rental properties were lost or are not repaired.  Another is that some people think that the entire shore is in ruins, so there is a public relations issue. And then there are those who don’t want to feel depressed by all the destruction, even if they can find a good rental.  They may choose to head south and visit beaches in South Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. There is much at stake because the rental market creates the lifeblood that feeds shops and restaurants.  New Jersey’s $40 billion tourist industry is at risk.

Some areas were hit harder than others. In Mantoloking, 40 homes await demolition while one  (see above) washed into Barnegat Bay and still sits there. Seaside Heights and Belmar are major disaster areas, although Belmar expects their boardwalk to be finished for this season.

Sea Bright, a town with water on two sides, just a short ride north along the ocean from OG, was clobbered.  There are rows of stores and restaurants boarded up on their main avenue and awaiting demolition.  On the bay there, the big and popular restaurant McCloone’s Rum Runner, sits closed with no signs of recovery, its big parking lot empty except for a few cars stopping to gaze at the bay.

McLoon's Rum Runner restaurant never reopened.   PG photo March 30, 2013

McLoone’s Rum Runner restaurant never reopened. PG photo March 30, 2013

The state of New Jersey lost 346,000 houses in the storm. Many homeowners are still waiting for checks from FEMA and insurance companies.  The news reports spoke of looters and debris all over, and this will influence potential renters.  There is a huge junk mess under the water including pollutants, cars, house wreckage, and even hot tubs.  Some people are wary because of these factors.  If you take a boat out into Barnegat Bay, you run the risk of hitting something under the water.   Some say that the cleanup at the shore will take 5 years.  So overall, there is reason to be concerned about the economic situation this summer.

In some communities, such as Ocean Grove, with lesser damages, there is optimism about returning to life by this summer.  But, in OG, there is more to worry about then the rebuilding of the beach and the boardwalk.  The owner of an inn in town told us yesterday that  ” the rental market has collapsed.  Normally by now I’d have well over half the summer rented.  Right now, I only have 2 weeks.”

Summer rental available at Main and Ocean Avenues.  4/3/13  PG photo

Summer rental available at Main and Ocean Avenues. 4/3/13 PG photo

For towns near us, like Belmar, they may rebuild the boardwalk, but they may not have the usual amenities ready on the boards such as eateries, shops, rides, etc. In Ocean Grove we are more fortunate because our businesses that serve tourists are located on Main Avenue and were mostly unaffected by  Sandy.  The Camp Meeting and the Chamber of Commerce have a full schedule of activities ready to go in the Grove.

Some towns have overestimated their ability to bounce back in time for the season, but the plans for recovery in OG are orderly and measured.  There is  hope that visitors will make late decisions to return, but overall, the numbers  of tourists returning to the Shore this summer will be reduced.

The Governor has announced a $30 million ad campaign starting now to try and attract visitors back to the Shore.

Below is the link to the NY Times article on this subject:

Summer rentals for 2013

APP article on “what’s in store for vacationers at the shore this summer:”

APP link

TONY BENNETT AND ALEJANDRO SANZ  (From Duets II):

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Bamboozled in Asbury Park,  NJ.  May 2012.  Paul Goldfinger photo  ©

Bamboozled in Asbury Park, NJ. May 2012. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

BRUNO MARS:

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