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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove controversies’ Category

New Jersey Marathon in Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo © 2015.

On August 23, 2017, Newsmax published its top 50 religious landmarks in America.   They began their coverage with this:

“Christian pastors and Jewish rabbis and leaders have initiated nearly every significant sociopolitical event in America. Their churches and synagogues were catalysts and hubs that made possible the American War of Independence, the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, and civil rights. They founded schools and hospitals, created architectural wonders, and emphasized the preservation of nature.

“Religious landmarks in most of the original 13 states could easily fill their own top 50 lists, especially the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. However, these sites exemplify the diversity of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and commitment to religious freedom — the hallmark of American exceptionalism.”

This statement is extraordinary and it is true. Below is what they said about Ocean Grove:

1. “God’s Square Mile;” Ocean Grove, New Jersey; 1869 This popular seaside retreat, concert, and vacation destination for millions is a lasting testament to the Victorian-era revivalist movement that followed the Second Great Awakening.

Methodist ministers founded Ocean Grove believing “religion and recreation should go hand in hand.” Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this quaint town is crammed with picturesque Victorian homes, antiques, a historic Auditorium, chapel, and tent community, and offers numerous tours and activities on land, sea, and air. Methodists still gather here regularly as well as other Christian groups

 

Editor’s Note:

This designation is huge, at least in the eyes of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. It  is a great honor for the CMA, but it perpetuates the myth that Ocean Grove is still a religious community and not a small town with multiple factions including the CMA.

The CMA is a powerful presence here, but the most salient emblem of the community are the Victorian homes which are maintained and paid for by a largely secular and diverse community of residents.

This award will have practical consequences, and perhaps our readers would like to speculate as to what these consequences will consist of.

Here is a link to the Newsmax presentation:

www.newsmax.com/BestLists/top-religious-landmarks-america/2017/08/23/id/809233/

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger,net

BEN WEBSTER:

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After Sandy the CMA mobilized citizens and other volunteers to work together in the cleanup Oct 2012. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.


Paul Goldfinger,MD.  Editor @Blogfinger.net

The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association  used to run this town, but all that changed in 1980 when the NJ Supreme Court turned over our historic village to the municipality of Neptune Township.

None of the “blue laws” were left in effect, except for bans on selling tobacco, sales of alcohol, and closing of the beach on Sunday mornings.  There has been no coherent explanation for those bans and beach closure  as initiated by a private group in a public town.

The CMA retained control over the beachfront and they actually own the boardwalk; they and others worked together to press FEMA to help pay for the boardwalk restoration.  The Camp Meeting still owns most of the land in town as they relentlessly pursue their religious “mission” which is growing year-round and has a profound effect on all who actually live in the Grove.

Interestingly, they have no membership list, so we don’t know how many residents in the Grove are committed to the CMA organization.  Most of their supporters seem to be religious tourists.

There is a group in town of private residents who are mostly secular and who probably number over 5,000 if second homers are included.  But, that group doesn’t seem to have much influence.

So how does the CMA maintain the reigns of power here, in  a democracy,  to influence the residents of this community?

Around 2011,  Blogfinger became interested in the role of the CMA as it relates to the “community ” of Ocean Grove—ie the residents of the town.  We interviewed the  President of the CMA.* He said that the group would focus on its “mission” and not on the community of residents. That’s when I first learned that the CMA actually had a policy regarding the rest of the Grove.

After Sandy hit, the CMA stood tall to deal with the beachfront damage, but they opened their arms to the OG community to help pay for it via the Together Fund.

Clearly the CMA is a sort of neighbor for all of us, but it is a peculiar sort.  They have power and influence in Neptune that enables them to strong arm certain issues in the Historic District such as congestion, parking, land use, North End Redevelopment, and life-styles for residents.  But when do they sometimes use that power to benefit the secular neighbors?

If we ask residents of OG the question: “What do you expect from the CMA,” we suspect that opinions will range from “nothing” to “a great deal.”

If you try to answer that question by thinking about the recent history of the CMA as neighbors in town, consider this summary below.  It is a short list of how they impact all who live here.

a.  They have lucrative large events through the year, especially during “prime time” which effects all of us who live here and which bring no money to help the OG  community.

b. They bring in thousands of tourists for their religious based events, but also because of the town- wide clogging during  mega secular events on Ocean Pathway such as the flea market. They hope to extend their reach year-round.

c. They don’t seem to care much about the residents in town as evidenced by their seeming indifference to issues that effect all of us, such as when they threatened to sue over permit parking before the conversation ever got out of the starting gate.  And you would think that they would be concerned about the Master Plan, the Land Use abuses,  historic preservation, and other matters that involve them.

d.  They were found to be guilty in 2007 of discrimination, and that stained the reputation of the entire town.

e.  They have been intimately involved with the worrisome plans for the Asbury Park South project at the OG North End.

f.  Secular programming has been cut back at the GA.

Of course, there are many positive attributes for the entire town that stem from the CMA presence in the Grove such as: the 4th of July parade; Illumination Night;  Christmas events;  a clean and friendly beachfront; a wonderful summer music program; and activities for families, kids and teenagers.

So, use the comment button below and offer some opinions as to what we should expect of the CMA.

ELVIS:   “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Apologies to Paul Dunlap for mis-identifying him as a past president of the Camp Meeting Association. He is a past president of the OGHOA.

Instead, the correct official referred to in the article was Scott Rasmussen*. Here is a link to our post in February, 2018, where a similar assessment of the CMA was discussed, triggered by a rare clash between the CMA and Blogfinger.
Culture wars in Ocean Grove

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Will we allow Neptune to continue dumping the Grove into their dumpster?  Paul Goldfinger photo.© October, 2018.

 

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @ Blogfinger.net

Two incumbents are up for re-election to the Neptune Township Committee. Their dominance will not be cast aside.

This one-party rule will perpetuate a habit of ignoring the needs of Ocean Grove residents. They are aided and abetted by a number of OG organizations that pursue self interests rather than promoting the OG community of citizens. We have identified them many times in the past. This coupled with public apathy allows our historic town to twist in the wind, blown around without direction.

I guess most people who live here are happy enough with the town to not worry much about its heart, soul, and future.

It looks like nothing positive will come of the November election as far as Ocean Grove is concerned.  And that will send a message to that one- party crowd that sits elevated in their Comedy Room that caring about OG is not worth their effort.

 

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TEA LEAF GREEN:

 

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A lovely event was held on Saturday, September 22, 2018 on Ocean Avenue at Main and Heck.  This single family house is doing just fine without being divided into condominiums. All that is required are owners who care about the town.  Such owners could have been found for the Aurora.  Blogfinger photo.

 

In August, Blogfinger questioned the decision by the Board of Adjustment to allow the single family zoned Aurora to be turned into a 4 condominium building.

Here is a link to that post:

Aurora zoning change

In that article, we asked, “Why didn’t this Board insist on the single family zoning that was present when the owner bought the property? Do you think any promises were made to that owner, and who might have made those promises?”  Zoning is supposed to protect the town and its citizens.

We know that the previous owner had trouble selling the property, presumably because of the single family zoning, but he bought it that way and lived with it that way, and this historically important building should have been left with its original zoning.

Some might argue that it is unfair to require that this old hotel be continued with single family zoning, because they say, “What can you do with such a big single family home?”

But you can visit any Jersey Shore town, including Ocean Grove, and find very large single family homes.

For example, on Ocean Avenue in OG are such buildings.  Our photo shows a beautiful single family home which was happily occupied by 2 people before it was acquired by the current owners who left the zoning alone.  You can see that it is often rented out for events, and none of its history has been compromised.   It is located on Ocean Avenue, lovingly straddling Main Avenue and Heck Avenue, for all visitors and residents to enjoy.

Will you be able to say the same thing about the new Aurora?

–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

JIMMY BUFFETT:

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Just before the start of the Summer Band concert at 8 pm, August 24, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Just before the start of the Summer Band concert at 8 pm, August 24, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Re-posted from summer 2016.

 

Scene:  The crowd was entering the great Auditorium prior to the Summer Band concert celebrating their 64th anniversary.  Among the visitors to the free concert were some out-of-towners.  We sat down on an aisle.

 

Man overheard speaking to his wife:   “Look Betty, they got an organ!”

 

Another out of towner behind us speaking to his wife:

She:  How many seats in this building?

He:  About 600

She:  Wow

Me:   (turning around) The Auditorium seats 6,500.

He:  Oh…I just left out a zero.

 

Another conversation:

We:  Let’s sit here on the aisle  (Behind us is a couple—they discuss our presence in muffled tones.)  Then they get up and move to different seats.

Another couple sits in those seats behind us:

She:  These are wonderful seats!

 

VINCE GIORDANO and  THE NIGHTHAWKS   from the movie The Aviator     “Stardust”

 

 

 

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At Pilgrim Pathway near Mt. Hermon Way. Blogfinger photo. Friday 8/24/18. ©

 

Pitman Avenue at the edge of Auditorium Square Park. Blogfinger photo. 8/24/18. ©

 

It was the beginning of a beautiful beach weekend.  On Friday afternoon, the floodgates of vehicles had already opened for another gridlocked weekend  in the Grove.  Ironically, both these parking games were being played out within one block of each other, almost on top of the NTPD substation next to Thornley Chapel.

By Saturday, I had to park over 3 blocks from my house, and while walking back, the sloppiness of parking on our streets was evident, with large segments of curb being empty, but not quite large enough to be a parking space.  If only some parkers were more considerate and less arrogant.

Some have suggested marking the parking spaces in town, but that would, I am told, take up even more parking spaces given the sizes required.   Have you noticed how large each marked  handicapped space is?

 

JULIO IGLESIAS     (” The games of love I played with arrogance and pride, including my parking habits.” )

 

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Ground Rents  (Re:  Appeals Court ruling)

To the Editor:

Having now read the court decision, its not as interesting as I thought it might be.

Condos can’t avoid their ground lease payments.

Pathway Condos (30 Ocean Pathway) and Dardanelle Condos (40 Ocean Pathway) filed a lawsuit last year trying to avoid paying the annual ground lease to the OCGMA arguing that a provision of the NJ Condominium law did not allow condos to be on leased property.

Last year a trial court ruled against the condos. This week the NJ Appellate Court agreed and ruled that the condos have to pay the land lease to OCGMA.

Bernie the Attorney

The writer is a real attorney who writes under the name Bernie—- special to Blogfinger.

 

Editor’s Note:  So now we can stop kvetching over this, unless someone wants to take the issue of ground rents to the Supreme Court.

And the Home Groaners can stop spending the members’ money on useless lawyers.  Why don’t they make public that lawyer’s opinion about ground rents. I think it cost $7,000.00

The HOA members and the public have a right to see it, especially those who are directly concerned with this matter—eg the condo owners and the CMA.  Post it on the HOA’s useless web site  Muckandgibberish.com

Paul Goldfinger, MD, for the Blogfinger Editorial Board.

And here’s a link about ground rents by Kevin Chambers

ground rents issues

 

THE BEATLES  with a little known song, but I like it—having nothing at all to do with ground rents.

“Don’t Let Me Down”  from the Blue Album

 

 

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OG Saturday Giant Flea Market June 2016. Gridlock. Blogfinger photo. ©  Where else can you find this?  Click once to make the crowd bigger.

 

OG mega Flea Market. Blogfinger photo 2016 ©

 

By  Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor@Blogfinger.net

May 5   Spring Fling  Chamber of Commerce closes down Main Avenue:   gridlock

May 19  Vintage Car Show  CC  closes down Main Avenue:  gridlock

June 2   Giant Spring Flea Market  CC floods Ocean Pathway with thousands of junksters:   gridlock

June 16 OGCMA  Giant Craft Show —-300 artisans:   Gridlock all over town

June 23   OGCMA Huge Christian festival:  Bridgefest:  Gridlock all over town.

August 4  OGCMA    Saturday of the Camp Meeting Week:   Gridlock all over town.

August 18  OGCMA   Beach boys:  Gridlock evening.

Sept 1 Doo /wop:   Gridlock evening

Sept. 8  Giant Fall flea Market:   CC floods Ocean Pathway —gridlock

Sept 16  British Car Show  CC closes down Main Avenue:   gridlock

October 6 Fall Harvest Festival CC  closes down Main Avenue: gridlock

Note: Every Saturday during the summer season is a gridlock day due to beach attendance and when residents and their guests crowd the town during all those weekends. But that is to be expected. This is a beach town.

But now we are addressing mega Saturday tourist events such as the Giant Craft Show on the Pathway which make the town hopelessly paralyzed.

So what other Jersey Shore towns have so many gridlock Saturday special events geared towards tourists and oppressively imposed  on the residents?

Consider Bradley Beach:  Just one–The Lobster Festival.  Holiday celebrations such as Memorial Day weekend don’t count because they are automatically part of summer.      The rest are things like line dancing, music on the boards, opera by the sea, Italian Festival, Bradley Beach Day etc. which are primarily for the residents and don’t cause gridlock.

Here is a link to our recent piece about the struggle in Bradley Beach over one such mega event.  It’s very interesting:

Bf reports on Bradley Beach struggle with mega-event

Consider Belmar mega:  Just a car show and the NJ Seafood  Festival.

Consider Avon mega:  no mega events

Consider Asbury mega:  Oyster Festival.  They have many activities including music, shows, farmers markets, fine restaurants, bars and boardwalk events like the Zombies,  but these enhance the image of A. Park and are not merely mega events to suck in huge numbers of tourists like we have. They have crowds and parking issues, but those crowds are drawn to the vibe of A. Park not to giant marketplaces where you can just buy stuff.

Consider Seaside Heights:  Nothing mega.   Jersey Shore Festival;  otherwise arts and crafts, boardwalk fun/food, and soccer tourney.

Consider Spring Lake:  Nothing mega.  Just sensible small events for residents and guests:    House tour, art in the park, garden tour, art walk, sidewalk sale, etc.

 

Only OG has huge  events that overwhelm the town.    What good does any of this do for the people of Ocean Grove?  The CMA mostly attracts crowds from outside the Grove.  All of the Shore  towns have events, but they are primarily for the residents, such as ballroom dancing, concerts on the boardwalk, competitions for kids, etc.

Of the towns listed, we are the smallest and the most paralyzed by contrived tourist events.  There is no reason to continue these overwhelming Saturday gridlocks—the Township needs to reduce the numbers to be in line with other Jersey  Shore towns.  But will they?  No.   These other communities make sure that their citizens enjoy the summer season in their home towns.  Tourism, yes, but sensibly done.

Do the people of Ocean Grove want their town to be a circus every Saturday in season?  Here is a march from Barnum and Bailey:

 

 

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Ocean Grove beach. June, 2002. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

 

Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

Jack, Kevin and I left the Mother Ship to return to our car after attending  the Neptune Township Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA)  meeting  May 2, 2018.  But as we walked through the parking lot we were approached by a couple who had attended the Aurora Hotel hearing but did not say a word during the hearing for which they had traveled one hour to attend.

They said that they moved to the Grove in 2005 because they thought it was a “charming and special place.”   Like so many who have moved here, they had fallen in love with this unique small town, but in recent years, they noticed a decline in their quality of life.

They mentioned the noise and congestion.  A strong sense of community had failed to materialize.  Parking had become awful, and the town was becoming overrun with tourists who often clogged the streets causing gridlock that was becoming progressively worse.

The heavy-handed Neptune government was allowing a deterioration of  historical preservation, culture and zoning in the Grove, and their decisions were causing perceptible damage to life styles for residents.

They thought the taxes were  exorbitant for what they received in return.  Then they had enough and moved to a New Jersey town that was more appealing to them. They still own their OG home, but they rented it out.

The couple  came to the meeting with the slim hope that the ZBA would do the right thing for one of OG’s historic treasures, but they were disappointed by the indicators at the hearing.  Their plan now is to sell their OG home.

We know others who also have moved or are thinking about leaving for a variety of similar reasons. One of those reasons is the inconsistency of the HPC.  And then there are the wrong-headed, impotent Home Groaners.  The Chamber just makes things worse with their self-interested giant mega events.

As for zoning, “The primary purpose of zoning is to segregate uses that are thought to be incompatible. But in practice, zoning also is used to prevent new development from interfering with existing uses and/or to preserve the ‘character’ of a community.  (Wikipedia.)”     In other words, zoning is supposed to offer protection and to level the land-use playing field for everyone.

The NY State Office of General Counsel says,  “Courts have regularly found a legitimate purpose in zoning regulations which are aimed at achieving a homogeneous, traditional single-family neighborhood. ”

But in the town of Ocean Grove, special interests get to defy land use laws in order to provide special deals for developers, politicians, the CMA, and others. An example is the designation of the North End as an area in need of redevelopment, abolishing desirable single family housing zoning.

Residents experience growing frustration and find themselves at the bottom of the priority list.

Ocean Grove, after peaking and looking like it had a bright future as a marvelous place to live year-round, has shown unmistakable signs of losing ground in the quest to evolve into a fair-minded residential historic district with unique character, culture and community.

 

GERRY MULLIGAN.  “Here’s That Rainy Day.”

 

 

 

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OGCMA PRESS RELEASE:

Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OCGMA) Grants Development Rights To Ocean Grove North End Development LLC (OGNED) to Develop North End Ocean-Front Site

“(Thursday April 26, 2018)  The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA) has announced that it has signed an “Options Agreement” with the Ocean Grove North End Development LLC (OGNED) to allow OGNED to develop the land parcel between Wesley Lake and Spray Ave; the boardwalk and Beach Avenue.  This is the site of the former North End Hotel, which burned down in 1974.  The parcel has laid fallow for over 40 years, and has been an eyesore to the residents of Ocean Grove.

“In 2005, OGCMA engaged a developer to create a landmark hotel and residential project to address the underdeveloped beachfront real estate. After discussion with the residents of Ocean Grove and the Township of Neptune, OGCMA significantly redesigned the requirements for the redevelopment.  The originally planned housing density was scaled back.  The redevelopment lowered the number of condominiums by well over 50% and added ten single family homes.  The revised plan contains a 40 room “boutique hotel”. The plan includes a parking garage which will have enough spaces for the residents and hotel guests.

“We are delighted that OGNED has stepped forward with a sensible development plan that will respect the historical and architectural elements of our community,” said Michael Badger, President of OGCMA.

“More detailed planning and construction plans will be subject to township building regulations, when they are brought forward.

“After lengthy negations with OGNED, the Trustees of OGCMA unanimously approved the Options Agreement,” said OGCMA President Michael Badger.  “OGNED will have a 99-year land lease to develop the property, in exchange for which the community will see a beach-front hotel, aesthetically new housing designed to respect Ocean Grove’s Victorian architecture, and some boardwalk retail shops. The maps of Ocean Grove from the 1880’s contained a plan for the North End hotel and it will be excellent to have the founders’ vision fulfilled again,” Badger added. “

Editor’s Note:   This surprise announcement raises all sorts of questions including whether this is still a “redevelopment area” with the zoning that is imposed by such a designation.  Blogfinger will be looking closely at this announcement.

And where is the OGHOA on this topic?  Were they complicit or were they left in the dark?

And finally, where is the Township Committee on this?  If Neptune has been participating in creating this new plan, why haven’t they represented the citizens of the Grove by mentioning this at their public meetings?  Will they make a statement now?  Will they pass a resolution?

Blogfinger spoke to the Mayor two days ago about a variety of public issues, and he said nothing about this.

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