Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove feature article’ Category


Some Grovers are investing huge sums to create authentic Victorian restorations like this gorgeous newly redone Main Avenue showplace, but that alone does not define us.  Paul Goldfinger photo May 2, 2017.


Another ambitious Victorian restoration. Note the original siding being brought back to life at great expense . Blogfinger photo © Ocean Grove at  Main Avenue.


Ocean Grove July 4 parade, 2015. A truly unique community event. Paul Goldfinger photograph


Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger–updated and re-posted from 2017.


In 2019, on its 150th birthday, Ocean Grove is a small town without a clear sense of identity.  It has a local government that treats us like an appendage to be milked, but otherwise there is no love emanating from Neptune Township. We may be part of Neptune officially, but we are clearly NOT part of Neptune in our hearts.  Most towns have a continuous thread of history that has resulted in a strong sense of identity, but not Ocean Grove.

Citizens say that they “love” the town, but the definition of that love remains undefined.   Many just like being here at the beach.  Is the Grove  just a collection of old houses interspersed in another cozy shore town?   Or  maybe it is the perception of the town as a place with an unusual and special  culture that attracts people to live here.

Many  like the urban feel, the friendly neighborhoods, the comfortable  sidewalks for walking, the porch culture, and the magic of summer evenings on the boards or fun at the beach.  And for some it is the closest nicest shore town to NYC.

Those who say they “love the town”  often have little knowledge of the town’s history as a religious enclave.  They have no interest in it as a historic place recognized by State and Federal historic registries.  So, to what extent is OG an authentic and serious historic district—a very special place for that reason?

A related question is whether this town was conceived as a tourist attraction?  The answer to that is an emphatic no.  Sure, in the late 1800’s, religious tourists came here in droves, mostly by train, and that identity persists to a  lesser extent today,  but the CMA community is no longer as central to life in Ocean Grove as it once was.  OG evolved into a residential community with cottages and boarding houses.   The Victorian buildings were  less valued than they are today and many had gone into decline.   Its census population was more than it is today.

Forty years ago, the downtown was not a tourist place to have a burger, buy a T shirt, take a tour, go to a massive craft show on the Pathway, or close down Main Avenue to sell Thai food or sell shlocky art or display old British cars.

Instead the downtown had a serious grocery/butcher shop, several doctors’ offices, a video store,a flower shop, a cleaners, a cafeteria, a newsstand, a newspaper, a drug store, a barber shop,  a fishing club, a seashell shop, and a town pool.   In other words it was a town that was largely for the residents. So many towns at the shore are not  primarily for tourists, for example Atlantic Highlands, Avon-by-the Sea, Long Beach Island, Spring Lake, Deal, Avalon, and Allenhurst.

But now Ocean Grove has become  a mish-mash—a combination of all of the above; but for those who actually  live here  (year round or part-time), or want to live here, we need to define our situation more clearly: what is the heart and soul of this town?  Or maybe those attributes don’t even exist. Maybe it will never be that sort of town.

Elected officials do not really represent the Grove’s citizens. So democracy doesn’t exist as defined by representative government. The Neptunite governing operation is like a secret foreign occupying power that has undercover agents and contacts who live among us, but has underlying agendas based upon self interest.

A local government is supposed to represent its community of residents and try to make their lives better, but our situation now is the opposite.  Witness the efforts to bring large numbers of tourists to town to the consternation of those who live here, and the failure to solve problems like zoning abuses, over-building, and the invasion of the parking snatchers.

The Camp Meeting Association ran the town for 111 years.  During that time, until 1980, they had reason to believe that the unique religious culture which prevailed till then, as odd as it was in America, would last  forever.  They certainly did not envision the town becoming a historic site.  They had no problem letting many of the early houses deteriorate. And it is unclear if stores during those years sold T shirts, surf boards, jewelry or pizza.

But when Ocean Grove was handed over to Neptune Township in 1980, and with the CMA giving up governance and most blue laws,  it was like a child who lost his parents and was given to someone for foster care—for money.

The town, which was becoming quite diverse by 1980, went forward without a clear sense of who or what it was, and today, what is its character and purpose?

The result is a place with a variety of power centers, all self interested  and largely propelled by an active real-estate market;  and all without the will to find a framework, a common identity, and direction for the town as a whole.

So the town of Ocean Grove, lacking leadership and a sense of town-wide community, is adrift and thus what goes on here is helter-skelter and out of focus.  That is why no progress is made in solidifying the town as a real place with its own sense of being.  If it weren’t for the homeowners who have brought to life historic homes that had been on life-support, this would be a pretty disheveled and much less desirable place.

The vision of an authentic historic town, defined by its historic designations, is currently fraudulent because most citizens don’t give a rat’s tail about its history. Even the “Historic Preservation Commission” has gone dark and has seemingly slipped into the shadows, never to be trusted again.

It is rare to find a historical event here such as re-enactments, poetry readings, vintage music concerts, classical street musicians, jazz, and educational programs about the town’s history for those who actually live here.  Instead we shut down Main Avenue for car shows and we crowd the town with huge numbers of strangers (ie tourists)  to have giant retail events of no value to the town itself while the residents struggle to find a parking place and to share our streets with the free parkers heading to Asbury.

We have had a major Walt Whitman Poetry Festival and a Blogfinger Film Festival (for collegiate film students.)  And we had arts in the parks,  People’s Garden Tours, classical street musicians, and other community cultural events, but most of them died on the vine.

The Ocean Grove Homeowners Association has no idea what it should be doing, and its leadership has no idea what its mandate is. It is not only essentially worthless in terms of bringing this town together and forward, but it has actually become a force working against the people—a subversive presence.

Jack Bredin is correct that the only workable solution is to become our own town again  (it actually happened for one year in 1925, but the church vs state  dilemma caused it to collapse on itself.) Perhaps it is possible once again, but not in a place where the citizens are apathetic and don’t seem to care about a vision for the town.

So  Ocean Grove, despite some wonderful attributes, is poorly defined, and the citizens are seemingly satisfied to ride the waves, sleep on the beach and enjoy being here, much like so many other Jersey Shore towns, although many of those towns actually have their acts together and know who they are or what they want to be. For example Belmar has only one mega-event each year.  Its mayor says that his main concern are the town’s residents.  The beach scene is a given in all Shore towns.

Bradley Beach , our neighbor to the south, which lacks the history that we have, knows what it is.   Go there to experience a true Jersey Shore town.  Forget the architecture, just view it as a fine place to enjoy the shore.   Take a deep breath and smell the ocean.  Go on Main Street on a summer night and have some Thai food or terrific Italian delicacies.  Sit outside at a real  coffee shop and watch the young people walking by or heading towards the boardwalk.  Bradley Beach has a heart and soul which goes all the way back to its founding. It knows what it is, and that’s a good thing.

And here’s a song for the kids in town, especially the teenagers who breathe life into the town no longer  known as “Ocean Grave.”


Read Full Post »

Sackman Enterprises created 98 rental units near the beach in A. Park.  They own other properties in AP including a new condo project and the restored Steinbach building.  They also  own #60 Main Avenue in OG.   (the brick pizza building with high rentals)   Internet photo.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

Here is a link to a post we published last July regarding the relationship between OG and A. Park. It raises some important issues.

OG AP connection

In Ocean Grove the pressure on “our” parking will continue to increase due to the Asbury parkers. And this is on top of other parking concerns such as the Camp Meeting Association’s plans to increase its year round programming, and the ambitious new activities at the Jersey Shore Arts Center which has new year-round events that have made life intermittently difficult over in that west end Grovarian neighborhood, and the JSAC has even more ambitious plans for the future.

And then there is the pressure  (as with the Warrington site) to create multi-unit condominium or hotel units without offering off-street parking. Added to the mixed bag is the  continued large-scale extravaganzas by the Chamber of Commerce which shuts down our streets and crams thousands of tourists for their big events.  They, the Township, and the CMA have done nothing to help residents with the parking situation during these grid-lock megalomaniac events.

Real estate in Asbury Park continues to be hot as millennials*  come into town to be close to the Asburian action. A side effect of that is the growing AP housing demand resulting in real estate spillover to Ocean Grove—–be close to the action while paying less for housing here.  But then we will see rising price pressure in OG.

If you go to any fine restaurant in A. Park you will find well-healed young people enjoying expensive dinners.  This trend will increase, and a large new high-rise building near the ocean will have condominiums, a hotel, stores and offices.

Some condos in AP have doubled  (or more) in value in just a few years,  and resales can bring up to $1 million.  There are quite a few smaller condominium conversions as well as large units all over Asbury-town, especially at their north end.    Of course they have parking problems that keep increasing.   A recent condo project recently took over a parking lot near Wesley Lake.  All of this development impacts Ocean Grove to some extent.  Woe is us!.

And how about the street water runoff into Wesley Lake?  Jack and I visited the Monroe  work site  a few months ago  (below)  and all we saw regarding the Lake’s ecology were a few ironic storm drains along the lake with a carving of a fish on them.

Where is the DEP?   We hear that the DEP plans to get involved in shore lake management, but so far, no news on that front.

Storm sewer on the Asbury side of Wesley Lake. Blogfinger photo. Click to see the ironic fish.

This is the newly built  Monroe which faces Wesley Lake on the AP side. Internet photo.

In addition, Bradley Beach has become hot with higher prices for homes that sold for a lot less not long ago.  This is the Asbury Park effect to the south of OG. And you can buy alcoholic beverages in BB.

It’s interesting that back in the day, when AP  had roaring honky tonk going on, people from BB, Avon and other southern destinations  would walk through OG, heading north on the boards, admire the scenery and the peacefulness of our town, and then proceed as fast as they could to reach the promised land of Asburian hot-times before some Grover calls them sinners.   Now the Asbury Park two-step is back again, and developers want to turn OG into AP South.com.

Some buyers are seeking houses in OG and BB as sources of income for Air B& B and more long range rentals.  From the point of view of OG residents, this is not good news.  This kind of activity can change Ocean Grove significantly.

*Millennials often are highly educated and have good jobs. Now they have saved some money and they are looking for housing around here.  Some condos in AP have doubled their valuations  (and along with it their property taxes.)

The  Pew Research Center will use 1996 as the last birth year for Millennials.    Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22-37 in 2018) will be considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward will be part of a new generation.

This is an explosive  time for the staid Victorian town of Ocean Grove.  Anyone who lives here, full time or part time or as a vacation destination should be aware.

LIANNE LA HAVAS     from the movie Loving Vincent—-“Starry, Starry Night”

Read Full Post »

Even kids take a backseat to the dogs. Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017.  Ocean Grove, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo ©   Click to enlarge. All other photos by Jean Bredin  (Around town with Jean. )

Says Blogfinger reporter Jean Bredin who was running around town at the parade and at the Main Avenue Fireman’s Park  in her witches outfit.

The Ocean Grove Pet Boutique  (Main Avenue)  sponsored today’s event.

“The weather was perfect. There were lots of dogs, children and grown ups in costumes. Ocean Grove shops gave out candy to those who stopped in.

“The Parade marched down Main St., then turned around to where it originated, Firemen’s Park, where prizes were awarded to the winners.”

Photo Gallery by Jean:  Click on any one photo and then follow the big side arrows.  Use the little X to return to BF.  Click on the music and then view the gallery:



Read Full Post »

Photos and text by Paul Goldfinger.  Reposted from Blogfinger May 15, 2012. Ocean Grove, New Jersey

A little horse-chestnut tree lived in a tree nursery. It was sad because it was crowded, there wasn’t much sunshine, and there were no other horse-chestnut trees. It was May, and its flowers were beginning to grow.

The little tree lived here in the nursery. You can see its pink flowers.   May, 2012.   

A grandma named Amy, who lives across from Fireman’s Park in Ocean Grove, wished that she could sit on her porch and see a tree with pretty flowers growing in the park.  Grandma Amy bought the little tree. Some men from the nursery dug all around and under the large ball of dirt where the roots are. It didn’t hurt the tree at all.

Then some strong men from the Neptune Township Public Works Department gently placed the tree on a truck driven by Mr. Benny Acevedo (on the left, below) who took it to the Grove. It was a cool sunny Wednesday morning when they arrived at Fireman’s Park.

The tree’s  root ball  is heavy— getting ready to move it.

Grandma Amy sat on her porch and watched the workers dig a big hole in the ground across from her house. Then they brought a yellow backhoe to lift the tree from the truck. Mr. Cleatus Ford was the backhoe driver and he carefully lifted the little tree next to the hole.

Moving the tree from the truck onto the backhoe….very cautiously.

Then Mr. George Reid  and Mr. Darby Brooks  moved the root ball into the hole. They made sure that the little tree was nice and straight.

Moving the tree into the hole.

Then they put extra dirt into the hole, and now the tree was ready to start growing in its new home.

New home in the park

When the workers from the Neptune Department of Public Works were done, they posed for a photograph. They all were wearing their bright chartreuse shirts except for Benny, who wore his orange shirt.

DPW crew: (L to R) John Ellis, Darby Brooks, George Reid, Benny Acevedo, and Cleatus Ford. They did good work and they were proud of it.

Grandma Amy was happy, and so was the little horse-chestnut tree which now can enjoy  lots of sky and sunshine.

Grandma Amy, happy on her porch

Soon, some children came to the park from the Care on the Square School in Asbury Park, near Wesley Lake. They like to walk into the Grove every day with their teachers and visit the park.

Kids from Asbury visit the park in Ocean Grove every day.

On this day they were excited to meet the new tree, and they all gathered around to hear the story of its arrival.

Kids gather around to meet the little horse-chestnut tree at its new home in Fireman’s Park

Soon many other children will visit the little horse chestnut tree. It has lots of pink flowers now, and you can see it near the corner of Mt. Hermon Way and New Jersey Avenue. It has a white plastic wrap on the bottom to protect it from the lawn mowers. A neighbor, Auntie Joyce, gives it water every day until it gets used to its new home.

The little tree is happy now. It gets plenty of fresh air and sunshine and it gets to see lots of kids, dogs, birds, and adults. And, across the park, is a larger horse-chestnut tree, so the little tree can see what it will look like when it gets bigger.

This is the bigger horse-chestnut tree on the other side of Fireman’s park. You can visit that one too, and there is a strong cherry tree there that you can climb on.



Read Full Post »

This car at Heck and Benson has been parked there for 4 months. It is missing the rear license plate. Imagine  if that corner house were yours.   The police have not acted. Blogfinger photo 9/28/17

The Township Committee has proposed an ordinance to deal with the problem of warehoused cars in the Grove.  Such vehicles will be impounded if they have been parked in one spot for 30 days or more.

There will be a public hearing on this proposed ordinance at the Oct 5 meeting.

The definition of impounded is “seize and take legal custody of  something, especially a vehicle, goods, or documents because of an infringement of a law or regulation.”

If a car does not have an up-to-date registration, it can currently receive a summons and can be towed.

The car above is missing the rear license plate, but the inspection sticker is up-to-date.  We don’t know if it has a current registration. There are no tickets under the wipers.

There is a warehoused vehicle on Delaware Avenue which the out-of-town owner moves  slightly every once in a while.  We also know that some people store a car on Ocean Avenue to use as a beach locker.

HERE IS ORDINANCE 17-40. There is a second page which has to do with “presumption of abandonment” but this is the main part.         Click on it for easier reading:




Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

GRIMES X BLEACHERS  “Entropy”  (Soundtrack of HBO’s Girls.)

“Calculate the entropy
Running out of energy
A lack of love or empathy
Leave me lonely”

Read Full Post »

To the Editor:

“Below is a link to an interesting article about Pitman, NJ.   Ocean Grove is specifically mentioned:

Pitman, New Jersey. From their web site.

‘Originally a Methodist camp town, similar to Ocean Grove, its streets were once lined with tents. Now, quaint cottages fill those spaces. An alcohol-free town until 2014, you can now purchase wine by the bottle at local wineries and beer by the glass at breweries. Very much a family friendly town, the borough is big on community events. ‘”

“I know you write about how OG can adapt in changing times to reflect the needs of its residents. Thought this was a valid comparison of how a similar town has adapted.”

Pitman, NJ. Internet photo.


The Small Town In New Jersey That Transforms Into A Magical Harry Potter Wonderland http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/new-jersey/nj-small-town-harry-potter-festival/


September 13, 2017

Editor’s note:  Pitman is in Gloucester Country and has a 2010 population of 9,011.   Its history is remarkably like ours including a governing Camp Meeting Association, but Pitman Grove (it’s historic name) jettisoned  that plan and became an autonomous borough in 1905 with the approval of the State of New Jersey.   It is on the State and National Historic Registers.

Unlike OG, it has continued to evolve as a community.  In 2014 it became an ex-dry town. Two years ago it  added an annual art stroll to its activities.

It is known for two major craft shows per year, spring and fall,  but that’s it as mega-events go.

This year it will begin a tradition of an annual Harry Potter Festival and, as part of that, will be a theater event.   They have a Pottery Festival in October and, of course, Christmas festivities.

This sounds a lot like what Blogfinger has been hoping for in Ocean Grove.  Thanks Stacey.

ANITA O’DAY AND CAL TJADER    “Thanks For the Memory.”

Read Full Post »

Ocean Grove is a “dog town.”  Where’s our dog park or beach?   Go to Asbury.  Paul Goldfinger photo © Blogfinger.net


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Cindy Stiles, the proprietor of Pet Boutique on Main Avenue in OG, has collected 1,000 signatures on petitions and she has gone before the Camp Meeting Association at least twice to ask them to permit a “private” dog park facility on their land near the tennis courts, but each time she has been turned down.

Ocean Grove could be called “Dog Town” because it’s loaded with dogs—residents and visitors.  But evidently there aren’t too many dog lovers on the CMA Board.

Today, at the Annual CMA Labor Day Report, Cindy went to the microphone to try again.  And try she did:  Cindy even told them that “God spelled backwards is dog.”  She seemed a bit desperate when she said that “some dog owners would like to pray with their pets in a dog park.”  Her main argument was that many visitors to town are dismayed when they learn that there are no dog runs for their pets.

However, regardless of how many persuasive arguments Cindy could muster, Dale Whilden, CMA President, could not be moved saying that the Board had a variety of reasons for rejecting the idea including concerns about animal “spats”, diseases, poop, security issues and more.

But the idea was checkmated when Dr. Whilden disclosed that the CMA had its eyes on that property for a possible parking lot or a place to store off-season life-guard chairs and/or more beach lockers.

And  the final coup de grace was when he said that the CMA needed to focus its attention on its “vision and mission”and that they had a “long list” of new ideas to get to, and a dog park was not on that list.  Priorities trump pets.    He did mention that the OG beach was open for dogs during the off-season, and many Grovers with dogs take advantage of that courtesy.

But Cindy was still not backing down, until  someone shouted,  “Let’s move on,” followed by a smattering of applause.

So Cindy had to step away—-clearly she was barking up the wrong tree.


Read Full Post »

Friends let friends enjoy the Grove when they’re away. August 28, 2017. Paul Goldfinger photo. Blogfinger.net ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

As I passed this young woman, she was watering the flowers along the edge of Tent Village in Ocean Grove, NJ, taking her time while her two small children played nearby. She and her family are here, occupying her best friend’s tent, during one of the loveliest times in the Grove—the end of August.  They are from Pennsylvania, and they seemed so happy to be here. Sometimes we have to look around through the eyes of visitors, especially those who get to stay here for awhile.

The temperate weather now is so pleasant:  the light is soft, the breezes gentle, and there is no humidity.  As we have pointed out, there is something ethereal about the Tent Village when it is occupied by soft spoken people, children, flowers, and, oftentimes, by the sweet sounds of the Hope-Jones organ or the voices lifted high coming from inside the Great Auditorium with glorious choral harmonies sometimes accompanied by  symphonic ensembles.

But the effect is sustained mostly by the voices of those who are chatting on porches, kids on skateboards or parents relaxing within the protective safe-zone of the Village.

Abraham visits our backyard pond. He loves to see the fish. Paul Goldfinger portrait. 8/30/17. ©

When I went home and stood in my own garden, a tiny boy, 3 years old, approached me and said hello. His name was Abraham, and as he stood there with me, his mom caught up.  I invited them in to see our pond fish.

Abraham and his family are from Yonkers, NY, and he has been visiting the Grove for the last 3 years, while his parents have been coming for the last 7.  His Mom is originally  from Sweden, and aside from Abraham’s enthusiasm and a three year old’s natural cuteness, he is bilingual.  He pointed to a flying insect and said, “Dragonfly.” He was correct, and his mom took it all in stride.  Abraham and I conversed in Swedish for awhile, and then he went home to sleep.

So, a couple more visitors caught up in OG’s gentle end of summer.

THE BAND PERRY: “Gentle on My Mind”  this version won a 2015 Grammy nomination. It also won Grammies in 1968 for the composer and for Glen Campbell.

“Ever smilin’ ever gentle on my mind
Gentle on my mind
You’re gentle on my mind.”

Read Full Post »

Ken and Annie plan to make Ocean Grove their home. Founders Park. 7/31/17. Stephen Goldfinger, Blogfinger staff. ©

Annie and Ken, from Inwood, New York City, are singers.  They first met on the OG beach a few years ago when they came to town to sing in the Annual Choir Festival.  But it turned out that they harmonized in ways that they hadn’t planned, and now they are married and they will  soon leave NYC and move full time to Ocean Grove.

Our reporter Stephen struck up a conversation with Annie and Ken in Founders Park where they hit the right note with this spontaneous pose.




Read Full Post »

NJ.com photo 5/3/17

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Recently Blogfinger published a series of articles called “the Case of the Worrisome Warrington”   This quote is from our March 3, 2017 post—on the day of the fire:*

“Three days ago we wrote a piece about how the Warrington project would receive official final approval this week for their site plan to turn that crappy building into a modern 21 room boutique hotel with an apartment in the basement and a basket full of variances to permit this special use, despite all the land use violations which we have documented. The Zoning Board official at the Mother Ship told us that the signing was just a formality, so we assume that it was done.”

The roaring fire that occurred that day was thought to have begun in the decrepit vacated building called  ”The Warrington Hotel.”   Later investigators backed off from that assessment somewhat, but now we know that it was true.

An investigation has been ongoing as to the cause of the massive fire that destroyed 7 buildings and damaged a large condominium near the ocean—the LaPierre.  Nearly 100 people lost their homes.

The day after the fire, Blogfinger heard from an attorney who was looking into the matter.  We understand that a number of lawsuits are in progress.  One of those people who was injured in the fire is suing the owner of the building as well as the contractor who was in there for months doing some sort of demo work. They also were removing the siding on the building—which could make it easier for a fire to spread.  And, there were no working fire alarms inside.

Blogfinger  questioned the land use issues regarding the property including the permission to build a 21 room boutique hotel on a land-locked lot.

A federal agency was involved (ATF), but they reportedly turned their investigation over to the lead investigator, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The fire Marshall was looking into the matter as was the State.  Up to now, no results were announced.

But last night, after the Township Committee had its usual work shop (ie a secret session,)  Mayor Brantley announced that the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office told him that an accelerant was found inside the Warrington.  In other words, the fire was begun by an arsonist.

No other specifics are currently available, but this is obviously now a criminal investigation in addition to a fire investigation.

And, finally, some agency will likely be looking at the Neptune Township Government and how it so easily evades Land Use Laws and favors developers over the best interests of the citizens of Ocean Grove.  In addition the Neptune Township governing body will probably be named as defendant in one or more of the pending lawsuits and investigations.

Warrington fire link one    *

Warrington fire link two

Warrington fire link three

Other posts can be found by searching our search box at the top right of this page:    “Warrington Hotel”  and “March 3 fire in Ocean Grove”

JOHN BARRY  “Theme From Somewhere in Time.”


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: