Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove historical preservation’ Category

Ocean Grove New Jersey. Many homeowners in OG have done remarkable restoration work on their homes. This finial and gingerbread work is on Mt. Hermon Way.

A major commitment is required if we want a Victorian town. The cherrypicker was needed to to do the artistic multicolored detailed paint work (see the top photo.) The painter did her work in short shorts, attracting many aficionados of  Victorian colors. Blogfinger photos. 2002©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

In a letter to Blogfinger on April 11, J. Cortese vented regarding what he sees as a deterioration in our town’s efforts to maintain historical preservation, and he sees the situation worsening over the last 10 years .

If you haven’t read his piece, here is a link:

I love you, you’re perfect, now change

Blogfinger’s writers and commenters agree with J., as do others in town, but is he correct to fear the eventual fatal decline of Ocean Grove as a very special historic place?

We agree that our election to the Federal and State  Historic Registers would be endangered if the deterioration that J. describes continues, consider this:

When we moved to Ocean Grove in 1998, the town was still in a pretty raggedy condition. Most streets had historic houses that were in serious states of decline. But you could see signs of life—indications that homeowners coming into town wanted to help bring these properties back to  life. 

We saw tremendous progress after that. Homeowners were putting up large sums of money to resurrect those irreplaceable Victorian buildings.  This effort showed results over the next 10 years where every street had multiple examples where beautiful and accurate historic work had been done. 

Derelict houses, while still existing, were no longer the main theme of our town’s architecture. Instead, most of our streets were uniquely lovely. 

This investment and commitment by homeowners is the main reason Ocean Grove looks so wonderful today as a Victorian-style community.  And Blogfinger and its supporters  are correct in criticizing Township officials, the CMA, and developers who are willing to exploit the town for financial reasons and to play fast and loose with zoning and land use regulations.

This network of exploiters produces results that yield less parking, less historic beauty, and more congestion. They are a force pushing us in a different direction. To add to the problem we have a Homeowners Association which has lost its way and a Historical Society which is barely visible in terms of preservation. The HPC is currently hiding in the shadows, and the Chamber of Commerce has no interest in the issue.  If all that continues, the town will, as J. predicts, lose what makes it so special as an authentic historic community.

We have interviewed many newcomers, and they all say, “We fell in love with this town,” and for good reason. 

I don’t have to tell you about the lifestyle of Ocean Grove now, an element that is apart from the architectual.   It is the organic component which adds a thrilling dimension to living here.  We have many children, young families, Wiffle ball games in the park, beautiful beaches, a vibrant porch culture, artistic events, etc.  We are a walking and talking town with smart, friendly citizens, and much of that stems from historic preservation.

However, not everyone in town agrees with the vision of people like J. Cortese, Kevin Chambers, Jack Bredin, Ted Bell, Blogfinger, HPC and others.  And if those forces, including citizens, elected officials, and organizations, which should be supportive, continue to turn away, the town will become something other than a Historic District.

As J. points out, many residents are just looking for a wonderful shore town to enjoy and to share with friends and family, and this one is very special and thus very popular.  And our proximity to the new Asbury Park will contribute to the popularity of OG.

Judging from the newcomers that I have met, they all want our town to continue being a place to love, but there are those who are not interested in our 19th century Victorian theme. So, although some of them will concern themselves with historic preservation, we don’t currently know how many will actually care.

We believe that most Grovers would hate to see the historic vision decline further, and hopefully most of us will stay involved and help to hammer out an aggressive plan for Ocean Grove’s Victorian survival . But will the dream be too much for too many?

REV. GARY DAVIS  from the album Harlem Street Singer

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Summer tents. August 22, 2015. ©

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

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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A small rehab center for short term care in W. Palm Beach Fla. Internet photo.

A small rehab center for short term care in W. Palm Beach Fla. Internet photo.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.net

As we noted recently, Gov. Christie said that he would prioritize the problem of opioid substance abuse which has caused many deaths in New Jersey, especially in Essex, Ocean, Camden, and Monmouth Counties.

He is promoting a new bill that would mandate insurance coverage for such treatment by commercial companies. Federal mandates already exist for Medicaid.

Philly.com says, “While the Affordable Care Act requires substance-abuse coverage, New Jersey could account for the federal law’s potential repeal by passing state legislation.” (Source article by Philly.com reporter Maddie Hanna.)

“If the federal law goes away, it reverts to whatever the old state law was,” said Joel Cantor, founding director of the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University.

Very few states have such laws. The N.J. proposal would provide for inpatient coverage for up to 30 days for those who qualify. There have been some objections about the emphasis on inpatient vs. outpatient care. The Laingdon proposal for Ocean Grove would seem to fall under the heading of outpatient care, although maybe the housing component would categorize it as inpatient care. Regardless, increased funding would increase the pressure to create more such services for those who would be housed while undergoing treatment. (This is the model described for the Laingdon/Sprout concept.)

Our town would be a perfect location for places to house clients after an inpatient admission or for outpatient care.  We have old hotels/boarding houses as well as homes (especially multi-family) which could be used for small residential operations doing short term care.  But if there is an explosion of investment in such facilities in NJ, the article says that there will be zoning battles around the state (see quote below.)

Here is another quote from the Hanna piece, “There is an inadequate supply of substance-abuse treatment services, period. Not just in New Jersey, but around the country.”

“Others spoke Monday of challenges to opening treatment centers, including zoning battles. ‘I used to have a saying: It’s easier to open up a gentlemen’s club in this state than it is to open up a drug and alcohol treatment program. And that’s not far off from the truth,’ Tom Allen, co-founder of Summit Behavioral Health, told Senate lawmakers.”

It’s important for those of us who care about the Grove’s future, our lifestyles, our  historical preservation, and our home values to keep an eye on zoning approvals and to take them seriously as precedent-setting events.

We cautioned about the zoning manipulation that allowed Mary’s Place, but hardly anyone seemed to care. And, even though the Laingdon application was withdrawn, we need to stay alert.  The key will be the Zoning Board of Adjustment use variances






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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

One month ago we began reporting on the efforts of Neptune Township to change the  guidelines that the HPC uses to protect Ocean Grove’s historic designations.

At the Township meeting,  Dec 12, 2016, where those new guidelines were presented, members of the HPC expressed serious concern when they went to the microphone to protest.  But those comments were unofficial, and Deborah Osepchuk, the chairperson of the Commission, promised to review all the changes and to present an official HPC response.

 On Dec. 13, we posted an article about the meeting and we said, “The HPC itself made no formal announcement about their opinions, but it is our understanding that they are not pleased with the changes.  Don’t they have an obligation to inform the OG public about their concerns?”   Later that day, the HPC voted to draft a statement speaking out against the guidelines.

The Neptune Twp. web site says this about the HPC:     “The current members of the HPC are dedicated to the goal of sharing information about the benefits of preserving Ocean Grove’s heritage and to ‘Recapture the Spirit of Ocean Grove, with all residents.”

At Blogfinger we wrote a series of articles on this subject, calling it “The HPC War” and  we sympathized with the HPC.   We asked Ms. Osepchuk  to send us the official HPC response for our readers to see. She said she would.

The next day she did an about-face and said that she would not provide BF with the requested information  on advice from the HPC  attorney .  The legal reason given was unbelievable, and we posted a piece on 12/16 on the subject of the “silent treatment” offered by the HPC.

We urge our viewers to re-read that post (linked below)  and to especially read the comments:


Ms. Osepchuk said that she was not allowed to communicate with the media, but if you look at the Coaster on-line, you will find an in-depth interview with the HPC dated Dec. 14, 2016.  The HPC had indeed made up its mind . The Coaster reported that: “HPC Chairperson Deborah Osepchuk said the Commission was ‘absolutely against the changes.’”

So what we have here is duplicity on the part of the HPC. *

We contacted the Chairperson again a few days ago and inquired if there was any progress regarding the guidelines issue.  She said that there was none and she didn’t mention that there was an official HPC position and that the matter had been discussed with the Home Owners Association and with the Coaster.   This is deceit by omission.

She also didn’t tell us that the HPC would present their official position regarding “the HPC War” to the HOA meeting next week.   Instead she said, “We’ll be talking preservation and the importance of guidelines at that meeting.”

It looks like the lawyer for the HPC advised them to specifically ignore Blogfinger,  but that it was perfectly OK to give out the information to the Coaster and to the HOA.  Is that possible?  Maybe that lawyer should comment here about what seems to be atrocious legal advice to the HPC to selectively ignore a request for information from a member of the press.

 The HPC is an arm of the Neptune Township government and its denial of our request appears to be a violation of the Freedom of Information Act and a rude stiff-arm to the only media source totally devoted to Ocean Grove and totally based in the Grove.

Why would the HPC deny Blogfinger news that belongs to the people of Ocean Grove?  We can speculate, but the bottom line is that 50 people at the HOA meeting will hear the news next week, but we get an average of 5,000 to 7,000 views per week and higher on Blogfinger. 

 The only explanation is  fear—they don’t want to expose their opinions to the scrutiny of the BF  viewers,  because we allow you-the-people to challenge them in our comments section.

This is disgraceful, and it puts the HPC in an alliance  with the untrustworthy HOA and with the Coaster—a publication that could care less about our town.  I used to admire the HPC, but no more. Blogfinger will watch them with suspicion.  There’s something fishy going on over there.

*Dictionary.com     Duplicity is deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in two different ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing.

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This is why Grovers need to pay attention to HPC issues. Blogfinger file photo. ©

This is why Grovers need to pay attention to HPC issues. Blogfinger file photo. ©

The  Township Committee is having a first reading of the new HPC guidelines this Monday at 7:00.  The Historical Society sent out an unsigned email stating,
“These new guidelines are very damaging to the historic district and threaten our historic designation. I’m hoping to get a good showing at the meeting to voice our concern.
The draft can be found on the township web site under committee agenda for Dec. 12. Scroll all the way to the bottom .
Thanks for any help you can offer.”

Below is the official announcement by Neptune Township regarding the HPC guidelines ordinance:



WHEREAS, the Historic Preservation Design Guidelines have needed amendment from time to time based on changed circumstances,

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Township Committee of the Township of Neptune in the County of Monmouth in the State of New Jersey that the Land Development Ordinance, Volume II Section 508, entitled, “Historic Preservation Design Guidelines” is hereby amended as follows:

§508 – Historic Preservation Design Guidelines.

c. The Design Criteria in Guidelines: The aforesaid Guidelines, also known as the “Ocean Grove Historic District Architectural Design Guidelines for Residential Structures” are hereby adopted as an integral part of this Ordinance and incorporated in the Ordinance by reference to the Guidelines available as part of this Ordinance for review in the Clerk’s Office of Neptune Township. Future amendments to the Guidelines, where minor in nature; that is, not amending the entire Guideline document, may be amended by Resolution with all dates of amendments noted in the Guideline document.

All Ordinances or parts of Ordinances that are inconsistent herewith are repealed, but only to the extent of such inconsistency.

The amended Ordinance shall become effective immediately upon its passage and the publication as required by law.


___________________________ Richard J. Cuttrell,
Municipal Clerk

___________________________ Kevin B. McMillan,


Editor’s Note:    

Here is a link to read the guidelines:


Click on Dec 12 in the agenda column and then scroll down to Ordinance 16-45 and then keep scrolling down and you will find the Guidelines dated October, 2016.

But where are the latest changes?  Is there an official document that enumerates the changes?   And who wrote these Guideline changes and why?

Someone sent us a notice from the OGHOA which said, “A key change will limit application of the design guidelines to the street-facing facade only of a building. The result of this change alone is not difficult to imagine. The sides and backs of homes could be faced with different materials, and historically appropriate materials would no longer be a requirement on non-street-facing facades.”  

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger



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Ocean Grove at the Spring fling.  Pilgrim Pathway.  5/15/16.  Blogfinger photo ©

Ocean Grove at the Spring fling. Pilgrim Pathway. 5/15/16. Blogfinger photo ©

Of course, when the Jersey girls in their summer clothes make their debut on the OG Boardwalk, this will seem modest.  Blogfinger will be covering that story from the culture/lifestyles viewpoint.

BUDDY HOLLY and the CRICKETS from the soundtrack of American Graffiti.:

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Thornley Chapel. Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger. ©

Thornley Chapel. Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger. Silver gelatin darkroom print. ©  c. 2005

JANUSZ OLEJNICZAK   From the soundtrack of the movie The Pianist:  Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor.

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The HOA held a meeting on Saturday, Feb 27, 2016. In attendance were Blogfinger reporters. It was a turning point for Ocean Grove. Several HOA board members stood shoulder to shoulder with two Neptune Committeemen   (Bishop and Rizzo) and told the audience, in so many words, that they will continue promoting condominiums and commercialization without parking in Ocean Grove.

They pontificated about the RSIS, filling the room with jargon and gibberish, but they failed to explain that offering Ocean Grove an exemption from RSIS regulations will result in unfettered condo conversions, including not only big multifamily buildings, but conversions of smaller multi-family houses all over town. They never honestly explained why they support the RSIS Special Standard, and nobody pressed them to do that.

For those of you who want Ocean Grove to be a charming family-oriented historic town with single-family house zoning, your vision will never happen. If you want a low density town without crowding and congestion, your desire will never be realized. If you want a town where developers and politicians do not prevail over the citizens, you will never see that thanks to the OGHOA Board. It was their responsibility to protect our town, and they have failed at that.

The corruption of the HOA was made clear at that meeting. Ocean Grove is on its way further  downhill, led by the HOA, the politicians, and the developers.

It’s time to pull the plug on that miserable organization. Only an insurrection can turn this around, because presently, there is no group in town to stem the tide. The town will change for the worse and few will try to stop the inevitable.

Ocean Grove is doomed to becoming an ordinary place, and that will disappoint many of you who have taken pride in the unique promise of this historic town and who have invested your lives and money in a dream.

Blogfinger will report the news, but we will not waste any more of our time with the feckless HOA, because the citizens have remained apathetic despite our efforts. At present, there seems to be little cause for optimism.

You should all read Jack Bredin’s comprehensive and unique discussion of the RSIS matter. It is disgraceful that his motion at the meeting was tabled due to a vote by the members.


Paul Goldfinger , Editor @Blogfinger

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Historic home at Main Avenue and Delaware. Blogfinger photo 2/22/16 ©

Historic home at Main Avenue and Delaware. Blogfinger photo 2/22/16 ©

Meticulous attention to original siding. Blogfinger photo.

Meticulous attention to original siding. Blogfinger photo.

By contrast to the history of 80 Main Avenue, this home is currently owner-occupied.  These owners are paying close attention to the historic restoration recently begun. Notice the original clapboard siding and decorative siding which have been unearthed under the tar paper.  This is the way that restoration should proceed——before the property deteriorates and becomes derelict.

Knowing the owners, this will be a showpiece. —-PG

SAM AND DAVE:  “Wonderful World.”

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OG civil war canon is aimed towards AP. Let's turn it around to symbolize the betrayal by Ann Horan and her HOA gang of nine. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

OG civil war canon is aimed towards AP. Let’s turn it around to symbolize the betrayal by Ann Horan and her HOA gang of nine. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Editor’s note:   Some of you may have missed this piece when we posted it last month on Christmas Eve. It is about how the Home Groaners Association has taken the side of developers regarding RSIS. 

Moving this piece to the top is needed because the OGHOA is about to present a “forum” on this subject.  But they should not be moderating this forum because their main purpose is to defend their anti-Ocean Grove position regarding this topic. 

If the forum is ever held, keep in mind that an unbiased presentation is not possible under the auspices of this group who would back the conversion of old rooming houses and hotels into condos, and if you think that there are no more such buildings in town, here is one at 17 Embury Ave.  that so far has slipped under their radar.  I passed it today quite by accident.  Jan 21, 2016.  Ocean Grove, NJ

The Seacrest Manor is on Heck Avenue at Embury-a choice location. Blogfinger photo Jan 21, 2016

The Seacrest Manor is for sale at 17 Embury Ave. —-a choice location. Paul Goldfinger photo Jan 21, 2016  I told my wife never to put me into a place with the word “manor” in its name.

The below post was originally published on Dec. 24, 2015:

In a memo to its members the OGHOA President Ann Horan declared “The HOA supports the township’s effort to secure a Special Area Standard for Ocean Grove.”

In her long note, full of head-spinning irrelevances, Horan tries to create fear and confusion by discussing standards that have nothing to do with our current situation including sanitary sewers, yellow striped boxes, parking stalls , etc.  She says that enforcing the RSIS rules in OG would be “a disaster.” This outrageous and fearsome  characterization is based on absolutely nothing.

The truth is that the special area under discussion is only about off-street parking and street widths. The latter is not even an issue, because our street widths are pretty well set.

Not only is the HOA betraying historic Ocean Grove by this announcement, but they doubled down by sending a letter to the SIAB in Trenton explaining why it is essential that the new standard be adopted “in order to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.”

The explanations by Horan in these two documents are outrageous and plain wrong. She can’t even get the date of last week’s meeting correct.

The people of Ocean Grove need to insist that the HOA do the right thing before we are inundated by more condominiums, townhouses, conversions to apartments, big buildings like Mary’s Place, etc.

Blogfinger has explained our position already to our readers pointing out that granting the requested exemption will open the doors to developers. We want the RSIS regulations to be retained for all structures in town except  for single family homes.  Horan doesn’t seem to understand what we are talking about.

The Editor’s note below regarding the position advocated by myself, Jack Bredin and Kevin Chambers sums up our views, which are opposite that of the HOA:

Editor’s Note:  Here is the “hook” regarding the RSIS rules.  If someone wants to put up a condo building with the RSIS standards in place, then it will be impossible for them to comply, because they would have to put the parking on their lot or lots. Since that would be impossible in most situations, then a single family house or an empty lot is the only option. 

Single family houses should get the exemption from the State because if someone wants to put up a single family house, there will be no room for the required driveway and parking. So the exemption for them would create a single family Victorian house with no driveway or garage, a situation that is not only historic but is very Grovey.  —-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


We know that this subject is a bit hard to understand, but here is another practical example, different from above, taken from the perspective of what the HOA and the Township are advocating:

Suppose the HOA/Township viewpoint is accepted by the SIAB, and the exemption is granted for every project in town. The next time a developer buys a derelict old inn, razes it, and proposes condos, they will be permitted to do so without having to supply any parking.

So all the people who live in that condo building will be looking for on-street parking along with their friends, party-goers, and relatives, resulting in reduced parking for residents and increased congestion for that neighborhood.  Every new multi-residential structure that is permitted will negatively impact our lifestyles and endanger our historic designations and and our town’s character.

It is as simple as that, so don’t be mesmerized by Ann Horan’s unbelievably disloyal and destructive position on behalf of the HOA as she stands shoulder to shoulder with the Neptune Township Committee, supporting their phony rationale for requesting the Special Area Parking Standards.

STUFFY SHMITT.  This song is about good ideas…something the Home Groaners  should find out about



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