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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove historical preservation’ Category

Ocean Grove: Can we keep it? Paul Goldfinger photograph along the edges of Wesley Lake/Lake Avenue. © Undated  Click to enlarge.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net.  This is a repost from 2017 updated in 2021.

Probably the biggest complaint about the Historic Preservation Commission relates to its inconsistencies.  For example, a Grover couple owns a large Victorian home that they have tried to maintain with great attention to its historic attributes.   It is actually a Victorian showplace.  Up in back of their house there is a staircase ascending to an access at the second floor.  They wanted to put a fairly small deck up there.  It would be barely visible from the street and would improve the couple’s life-style.  But the HPC refused the request on the grounds that such a structure was not historic.

Yet around the Grove there are all sorts of porches and decks that have been added. Just take a walk and you can see them.  If you were a prospective home buyer here, you might look around and think that such decks are historic.

We had one on the second floor, in the rear, of our Centennial Home on Heck Avenue.   If I tried to build that from scratch, it might (or might not) be approved. The HPC is unpredictable.  Another person we know  was given permission to put up a deck just like the rejected couple’s.

Double standards by the HPC  (as with their parental  group, the Township Committee) are toxic to good will and lifestyles in this town.

But if some of you are shocked, shocked that we might have double standards at the HPC, consider this:

And, speaking of astonishing double standards, consider the photo below:

HPC approved this “historic design” on Ocean Avenue in a fairly conspicuous location. Blogfinger photograph. ©

The funny thing about this building is that locals and visitors find it to be amusing.  So, thanks to the HPC, we have a giant conversation piece that is famous not for its Victorian architecture, but as a sort of joke; and the HPC has become the straight man for this humorous offering which does nothing for our town’s reputation and designation as an example of  historic preservation.  And rumor has it that the HPC allowed a historic roof top pool, something Rev. Stokes himself would have been shocked over.

One sport in town is to provide it with ironic nicknames.  For example, one person in the Grove calls it “An Ode to Cement.”   We call it the “Greek Temple.”  Somebody else refers to it as “The Bank.”  What do you call it?

2021 update:  As many of you know, the North End Redevelopment Plan has been tied up in meetings with the HPC. The Township has failed to keep the citizens of Ocean Grove informed as to what’s going on, and the HPC is on mute.

As you know, the HPC only concerns itself with exterior design issues.

We have already seen preliminary drawings of the project, so for many of us, that project should not have been permitted in the first place, and I have no information as to what the HPC is fussing over, but we will probably be left with the same concerns: blocked views,  blocked breezes, crowding, neighborhood congestion, environmental issues, and a significant change in the town’s character, appearance and mood.

It will be Asbury Park South. And the timing, now that the town is changing in a variety of ways, is unfortunate.  This project will slither in silently under the door, while the rest of the town is concerning itself with COVID, many new citizens, many rentals including Airbnb and its problems, a striking sellers real estate market with great demands by buyers, a shortage of affordable rental housing, and rising prices for rentals and buys that have shut many out of the market.  The town needs stores that provide services to those who live in town, and such down-home businesses will not be found at the new North End.

 

DOOLEY WILSON  from Casablanca   “As time goes by.”

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Summer tents. August 22, 2015. ©

Summer tents. August 22, 2015. ©  By Paul Goldfinger.  Click to enlarge.

Paul Goldfinger,  Editor, Blogfinger.net

The OG summer tents are sought after by painters, photographers, tourists, renters, historians, strollers, bikers,  and others. Our tents are unique.   From a photographer’s point of view, we look for new ways of seeing the tents;  we try to be creative with lighting and composition.  It’s not easy to come up with something different, but that is what we require at this Ocean Grove website where photography is used more than words to describe our town.

When I submitted a “plain vanilla” portrait of the tents for the book “New Jersey 24/7” I was surprised that the image was one of the winners, but then I realized that those of us who live here are a bit jaded, like New Yorkers who take the Empire State Building for granted.

But for you OG photographers, Blogfinger will continue looking for fresh ways of seeing our historic and beautiful tents.

ADAM LEVINE   “No One Else Like You .”  From the film Begin Again

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Ocean Grove. 2011 © Paul Goldfinger photograph.  Yellow warning flag is flying.

This article was posted in January, 2020, but it references events in 2019:

 

“Something familiar,

Something peculiar,

Something for everyone:

A comedy tonight!

“New complications,

Nothing portentous or polite;

Tragedy tomorrow,

Comedy tonight!”

*Stephen Sondheim:  A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

 

Raise the curtain at the Neptune Theater of the Absurd.  The stage is set for a tragedy:

Jack Bredin attended the Township Comedy’s meeting last night (August 2019,) and his conclusion is, “Ocean Grove is being sold down the river.”

After hearing OG’s  Carol Rizzo, the 2019  Neptune Township Mayor, effusively praise the “new” North End Plan, Jack sank down in his chair—He says that all hope seems to be lost as this show unfolds with its final acts waiting in the wings.

This drama about the historic town of Ocean Grove is now positioned to move forward in a direction that will be accepted by all the power players, leaving the residents of the Grove hung out to dry.  Once the contractors trucks begin to stir up the dust and clog our respiratory tracts, while creating a nightmare of congestion,  and a cacophony of noise, we will wind up with a large scale version of the Greek Temple on Main Avenue—a variation on a theme as the promise of historic small town OG will forever be lost.

And, along with it will be the hopes for a pristine Wesley Lake, now known by  all concerned  as a “retention/detention basin.”

Let’s consider the players in this Greek tragedy known as “The North End Revelopment Plan.”  We have the main actors at Neptune Township along with the Chorus consisting of  the Home Groaners, the Camp Meeting, the Chamber of Commercials, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Planning Board, and The Wesley Lake Commission.

And, providing the backdrop and script for this scandalous performance, there is the main villain of the piece—secretive local developers lurking off stage while pulling on the puppets’ strings.  Here is the cast of characters:

a. The Neptune Township Committee: Mayor Rizzo of Ocean Grove, who has swallowed the Kool Aid,  will lead those Neptuner sheep to unanimously approve the new plan.  She has appointed Committeeman Michael Brantley to take her place as the “Class one” member of the Planning Board.  She has abdicated her key role as the protector of the people at the PB. Brantley is a Neptuner through and through, and he will order the PB to approve the new plan unanimously.

Once upon a time there was a Committeewoman who favored single family zoning at the North End.  Mary Beth Jahn stuck her neck out for the best interests of the people and the town, and she was beheaded by the Monmouth County  and Neptune Democratic Party.

The Neptune Committee is indifferent to the people of Ocean Grove, and one party rule prevents any chance of changing the ending of this tragedy.

b.  The Rule of Law:  Normal procedures regarding land use law have been routinely violated in Neptune, but that crowd, along with their OG allies, does whatever it pleases.  And they are aided and abetted by favoritism offered by key unelected bureaucrats at Town Hall.

c. OG Home Owners Ass.  We don’t know their motives, but this group of turncoats continues to back the developers and Neptuners regarding the North End.  The late Ken Buckley who was on the HOA Board and the HPC told Jack that they are “backing the Plan.”

d.  Developers: (OGNED)    Most of these people are connected to OG, but despite that, they conspire, whenever possible, to exploit the people of OG for profit.   They are favored at the Mother Ship with zoning manipulations including those that increase congestion and ugliness in town:  Condos, Greek Temple, Mary’s Place, parking  torture, etc.

e. Camp Meeting Association.  They have removed themselves as Redevelopers,but that is just cosmetic.  The President of the the CMA told us publicly that his organization has been involved in negotiations to move the NERP forward. They have control as the land owners, so they are focused on making money.  They seem to have little interest in the OG residents community or the historical designation of the town.

f. Chamber of Commerce:  In many US towns the CC is community minded.  But this crew only cares about two things: profits and tourists.  They never get involved with community issues such as the North End. For them, the commercialized North End Plan will increase their membership as they continue to close Main Avenue for mindless tourist events and crowds.

g.  Historic Preservation Commission:  When they are not hiding under their beds, they are busy being hypocrites and they have stood by while the Neptuners seek to take over their guidelines on behalf of developers and contractors.

h.  Wesley Lake Commission, representing both sides, has stopped trying to clean the Lake and instead they support the Retention/Detention re-naming  in order to allow the Lake to be used to receive  increasing amounts of filthy ground water, thus saving the developers a huge amount of money to fix the ecology of the former “Wesley Lake”

i. The Residents of OG-–Those who envision our historic town as a lovely place with its Victorian architecture, parks, clean Lakes, parking for those who live here, reduction in tourist glut, solving the Asburian invasion, keeping our streets open, nurturing of the community with its kids, families, retirees, diversification, etc. will be the big losers in the North End project.

“Representative government” has failed here, and apathy reigns.   Only a major law suit in Superior Court  or an investigation by the NJ Attorney General could close this show down.

Once the curtain closes on all this, the corruption in OG/Neptune will continue.  Blogfinger will keep reporting the news, but we don’t see an alternative ending to this drama.   Jack says, “Ocean Grove is a door mat;  we’re sunk.”

By Jack Bredin and Paul Goldfinger:  Blogfinger.net.   Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

 

ZERO MOSTEL  from the original Broadway cast album of Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

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Tourism of the historical kind---the kind to be encouraged in our historic town. Paul Goldfinger photo @ Blogfinger .net.

Tourism of the historical kind—the kind to be encouraged in our 19th century historic town. Paul Goldfinger photo @ Blogfinger.net.

 

HUGH JACKMAN.  “Don’t throw your past away; you might need it some rainy day.”    From The Boy From Oz:

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By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor@Blogfinger.net

The 16 foot 1907 4 tiered fountain has been restored and is now erect in Founders Park. Yesterday, July 9, was the final installation.

Some more minor work needs to be done for it to be flowing on Saturday, July 27.  (see information below). The fountain last displayed water in the 1970’s.  Thanks to a fund raising effort by Ted Bell and the Historic Society of Ocean Grove, over $100,000 was raised, and some more donations would be helpful for the finishing touches including landscaping.

We went over there tonight and were able to photograph it in very low light using an extremely sensitive digital camera.

 

Paul Goldfinger photo. 4 tiered fountain is back in place. 7/10/19. Blogfnger.net ©  Click to enlarge photos.

 

Closeup of the lower part. Blogfinger.net. ©

 

Here is a link to a Jack Bredin painting of the historic scene:

Founders Park painting

 

COMING ATTRACTIONS:

July 27 Saturday  is Victorian Day

10 am – 4 pm:  Mrs. Joseph Thornley’s prayer tent in Founders Park

10 am – 3 pm: History of OG video shown continually in the Great Auditorium

11 am-11:30:  Dedication of the Fountain    (DO NOT MISS THIS)    and Re-enactment of Bishop Fitzgerald by Rev. Dr. Tom Tewell.  Founders Park

Note: from Cindy Bell: “The restored fountain is back in town, and Robinson Iron anticipates the final installation on Tuesday July 9th. Landscaping and final touches will be put in place the week of July 15th.  Dedication ceremony:  Saturday July 27th at 11:00 am. Community members are invited to stop by the park to watch the action.”

 

12-4 pm Horse and carriage tour

Afternoon tours of Great Auditorium, tours of Historical Society Museum,and walking tours of Ocean Grove

 

OMARA PORTUONDO   “Mariposita Primavera.”    From the Buena Vista Social Club

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19th century walkway along Wesley Lake: It was called Lake Avenue, not Beach Avenue. And the lake was a lake not a retention/detention basin (as it is currently labeled)

Ocean Grove walkway along Wesley Lake by Founders Park: It was called Lake Avenue, not Beach Avenue. And the lake was a lake not a retention/detention basin (as it is currently labeled) Re-posted from 2016.

 

AMY VACHAL

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At the July 9, 2018 Committee Meeting there was a first reading of an ordinance: 18-24.  The Township wants to establish a new position: HPC Administrative Officer.   This bit of news doesn’t pass the smell test regarding what’s best for Ocean Grove and its historic designations.

We already heard about the Township’s plans to rewrite the HPC guidelines and to hire a consultant for that purpose, but we have heard nothing lately as to that topic.  As worrisome as that sounds, the Chairwoman, Deb Osepchuk, has refused to make any public comment after promising Blogfinger that she would allow us an interview on the matter.

Rumor has it that the Township, beholden to developers who hate the HPC, wants to weaken the powers of the Commission. But no one in the know will say anything to us.

Now we hear about this new position, and it sounds like the Township wants more control over the process of Historic Preservation, but instead of showing courage at the meeting last night, the HPC Chair refused to say anything, evidently at the advice of her lawyer.  So what good is the HPC if it won’t stand up for preservation in the Grove?

We believe that every member of the HPC  ought to resign immediately until the future of their Commission be defined publicly including their powers, their guidelines, their credentials,  and the integrity of their functions.

The Township must insure that the best interests of Ocean Grove be front and center when considering the HPC.

And, by the way, where is the Ocean Grove Historical Society regarding matters such as this?  They should be involved in all these historic preservation issues, and if they won’t, then their Board should be fired by the membership.   And of course, the Home Groaners should have been on their feet demanding some transparency regarding this situation.  It’s about time that their board also be replaced.

 

THE ROOFTOP SINGERS:

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Which way is the wind blowing regarding historic preservation in Ocean Grove? Paul Goldfinger photo © 2003.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

On January 24, local historian and advocate Kevin Chambers made a provocative comment while discussing the Aurora.  He said,

“Does the Aurora have any real history to it than the style in which it was built? No, it doesn’t, and since there are many other houses of the same style in OG, the loss of the Aurora would not effect the community than if it was truly unique to OG.”

Surely some of you saw his comment and would like him to explain it.  It seems to me that he is saying that we have two standards of “historic” regarding OG architecture: a truly historic structure and  an old building  that “doesn’t have any real history to it.”  The subtext is that it would even be OK to demolish the Aurora.

I can recall attending the 2013 hearing for demolition of the 134 year old Whitfield Hotel when a strong case was made that the old building was of no significance in terms of its architecture or its history in the Grove. Historians and other experts spoke and concluded that it had  “no style” and was a “useless mess.”  Citizens present agreed as did the HPC, so that old building was torn down to give way to four “reproductions” on crowded undersized lots .

Historical significance of the old Whitfield Hotel

Although we can’t exactly compare the Aurora to the Whitfield, clearly there are times when old structures should not be saved.

So is Kevin correct about the Aurora?  Should the new owner be permitted to demolish it and put up condominiums?  We already have heard about the idea of remodeling the Aurora and converting the building to 4 modern, luxury condo’s. And then there is the idea to demolish and put up single family homes. 

Wouldn’t it be great if one of those public servants who are on the Historic Preservation Commission had the courage to comment here and help educate the public about this subject, but don’t hold your breath.

So maybe some of you Grovers who are knowledgeable about historic preservation in our town would comment.

Jack Bredin did in 2016 when he wrote a letter to BF and said,   “A few months ago, at the public portion of a Committee Meeting, an attorney advised the Committee that ‘A historic district is a detriment to development.’ ”

 

BOB DYLAN   “The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

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New shop on Main Avenue. Note neon sign in window which sometimes blinks. Blogfinger photo © 8/15/17

From Neon Leon:  I don’t think that neon signage is appropriate  in the historic district.  There are at least 3 businesses that have it.

Is there any regulation that forbids neon signs?

BROOKS AND DUNN:  “Neon Moon.”

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Ocean Grove Tent City. Photo by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff ©. 5/11/17.

Jean says, “The little paths between the rows of tents are quaint.
You walk down, and there’s the Great Auditorium in all her splendor.

“They soon will be occupied, and personal touches will embellish each tent.
It won’t be long now.”

RICKY NELSON    from the movie soundtrack of Pulp Fiction.  Tent City is a lonesome town until the occupiers begin to show up on May 15.   Then it springs to life—it is a community within a community having its own rhythms and even its own customs. Kids love it there. By June 1, it is  no longer a lonesome town.  —-PG

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