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By Sue Gioulis, Blogfinger staff based on a BF photograph from July, 2016.

 

By Jack Bredin, researcher and reporter @Blogfinger and Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

At the Township Committee meeting of May 22, 2017, the Township Attorney Gene Anthony finally stopped making excuses for the stalled North End project with an announcement saying, “Mr. Gannon has an agreement with the new redeveloper and WAVE.”

William Gannon III is the spokesman, the leader, and the lawyer for WAVE, the mysterious group behind the North End Redevelopment Project (NERP) which has been languishing since 2008.

Jack Bredin went to the microphone to ask Anthony, “How can WAVE select a new redeveloper? You become a redeveloper when you sign a Redeveloper’s Agreement with the Township, and WAVE has never signed its own contract with Neptune Township.”

Anthony replied, “That may be true, but the Township Committee designated WAVE as a redeveloper.” 

Yikes, talk about evading a question!

Let’s take a look at some background information regarding the term “redeveloper” as it pertains to the North End project. And let’s also pay close attention to the words “Committee,” “WAVE,” “Association” (i.e. OGCMA,) “Redeveloper’s Agreement,” and “developer.” And let’s look for misuse of the English language that would distract from the truth.

On June 9, 2008, the Township Committee adopted Resolution #292 designating Wesley Atlantic Village Enterprises LLC (WAVE) and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA or Association) as Co-Redevelopers of the NERP.

Resolution # 292 said “Whereas the Association conducted an extensive process to seek and interview potential developers for the property, and….

“Whereas, the Association selected Wesley Atlantic Village Enterprises, LLC as the developer of the property.”   (Note that the word “redeveloper” is not used in these two quotes)*

We believe that illegal procedures were used to get this project going in a direction that suited the developers and not the people of Ocean Grove.

To begin with, the selection process should have been conducted by the Township, not the Association, including advertising a request for proposals followed by a public bidding process as required by law.

The Township Committee allowed the Association to usurp the Committee’s legal authority to select a redeveloper. In a redevelopment project, the Township is in charge and should be the entity that selects a redeveloper.

In addition, the resolution confuses the issue (? intentionally) by twice referring to “developers” instead of “redevelopers.”   These words are not synonymous.

So, from the beginning, the whole process has been tainted, and now, at the May 22, 2017 meeting, it was reported that the Committee is currently permitting WAVE to do the same thing, i.e. to usurp its authority to select a redeveloper. In other words, the first illegal redeveloper is now choosing another illegal redeveloper. And the Committee, the citizens’ elected representative, remains silent on this shell game.

It also must be noted that no entity can be officially named as “Redeveloper” without signing a Redevelopers Agreement, and neither WAVE, the Association, or the new kid on the block (currently not identified by Anthony) have ever signed such a contract with the Township.

When will our elected officials take the side of the citizens, follow the laws, and favor the Master Plan as they deal with North End redevelopment ?

So here’s a metaphor.  Consider that the Town Committee are a bunch of teddy bears having a grand old time at their regular picnic, aka the Committee meetings. They love to dance and prance and act innocent, but they are blind to the forest rangers who are watching them very carefully.

ANNE MURRAY

 

 

 

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All photos from today’s Ocean Grove Yard Sales. This is at Asbury Avenue—Vicki’s house; always a winner for yard sales, and a beautiful location besides. All photos by Paul Goldfinger. Blogfinger.net © Click to enlarge all photos.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

For the third year in a row, the weather posed a threat to the Town-Wide Yard Sale. Last week we postponed the May 13th setting because of horrible rain.  Today, May 20, we expected sunshine, but when we woke up we heard wind gusts, and then, looking out the window, we saw clouds.   It was chilly at 60 degrees, and there were a few little showers late in the morning, causing sellers to open up, cover up, and then start again, often  moving to the porch briefly.  One out-of-towner was cold, so he bought a hoodie from us.

A little rain moved the action onto porches, but only for a few minutes. Blogfinger photo Mt. Hermon Way. ©

We estimate that the Grove had about 60 yard sale sites.  We signed up 49, and there were a number of others that joined in without signing up–I met 3 of those without having to look very hard.   Asbury Park also had a town sale today but they were expecting only 25, and that is over an area larger than the Grove.   Our yard sale manager Vincent  Cannavo said that the density of yard sales in our small town makes for a perfect location for an annual town-wide sale.   Last year we outnumbered Bradley Beach.  There is no data as to how many of our sellers failed to open up because of the weather, but I don’t think there were more than a few.

It’s impossible to know the number of attendees at our yard sales,  Yard sailors told me that they had a fairly successful day  with a steady stream of shoppers despite the lack of sunshine.

As usual, the best thing about the TWYS  is the social component.  We met Grovers whom we never met before and we saw others whom we see only occasionally,  as well as visitors some of whom are regulars in town and who love the yard sales.  They come, often stay over,  eat out, and patronize our merchants.

Eileen and I met a multi-lingual visitor (4 languages) who bought bowls from us and did a fine impression of a Parisian waiter.  A women from Staten Island gave me a lecture as to why rubbing lemongrass oil over your liver was better than Lipitor for cholesterol.   Exchanging stories and observations about our town is always fun, especially with strangers who give us some “out-of-the bubble” points of view.

A couple of out-of towners won the fashion award on Mt. Hermon Way.  He bought a record “Stand  By Me” but she already was.    Blogfinger photo. 5/20/17.

Many Grovers and visitors stopped by our place to talk about Blogfinger, and, without exception, they were supportive. Some commenters came out of the closet to help me match the face with the pseudonym. Aggravated Curmudgeon’s wife told me  that Curmudgeon is actually a nice guy and isn’t always aggravated. He was home selling stuff.

Conversations are always part of the action and are very entertaining and informative. 5/20/17.   Paul Goldfinger photo on Delaware Avenue.

We met visitors  from the outer reaches of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Cincinnati,  and New York—Staten Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Some of the Grovers we spoke to are new residents  in town including Lucy and Reena (both of whom had sales today.)

This crew on Delaware Avenue put their sale on hold for a pizza break in their side yard.  They are candidates for our OG lifestyles award. Blogfinger photo. © 5/20/17.

Several early visitors at our sale were looking for vinyl, but what interested me was that one was a young man.  It turns out young music lovers are taking a keen interest in collecting and playing vinyl.  An antique dealer from a neighboring town told me that sales of “old’ antiques were down because young couples aren’t interested, but there is enhanced interest in vintage stuff such as from the forties and the fifties.

So thanks to all of you Grovers who participated.   It actually can be fairly stressful and difficult to prepare for a yard sale, and when it’s over, you’re still not done working.  But despite that, it is fun.

MISS PEGGY LEE:

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This is the Whitfield Hotel as it was being demolished on Jan. 22, 2017. Note the security fence around the property. Photo by Christopher Poverman, Esq. ©  Click to see the fence better.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

Doug Walden signs his emails, “Burned out of 29 Seaview Avenue, Apt D. Ocean Grove, NJ.” He barely escaped with his life.    Doug is one  of the fire victims  who are looking into a law suit regarding that March 3 Warrington fire.  After a difficult time—he suffered lung injuries from the smoke and he lost all his possessions—he has now found housing in the Grove and he is trying to get back to his job and recover from the stress of that horrid experience.

Doug is a persistent person who has made it his business to personally participate in investigating this tragedy.  In an interview with Blogfinger, Doug mentioned that he believed that the Warrington should have been better secured, in the same way that the Whitfield was, and that effective security fencing could have possibly prevented the fire. He has other concerns as well regarding how that fire might have been prevented

The photograph above was taken by a Spring Laker, Christopher Poverman, Esq. who pointed out that a contractor was working on the Warrington  2 1/2 blocks away when this Whitfield photograph was obtained. I was over there myself watching the workers, and there was no fence isolating the property.

Mr. Poverman asked, “Why wasn’t the Warrington secured like this?”

Neptune Mayor Michael Brantley spoke about the cause of the fire at the May 8 Committee meeting.  He said that the fire was “incendiary” and then he said that it was either intentionally caused by an “arsonist” or accidentally set by a “vagrant.”   The township lawyer used the word, “vagabond.”

But it seems like the word “incendiary” means intentional.  The Mayor’s language, presented in a formal written statement,  was confusing, and the investigators at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office have so far made no formal announcement about the cause of the fire. The Asbury Park Press has avoided reporting on the cause until the investigators have concluded their evaluation so it’s not clear why the Mayor decided to make that statement on May 8, and we don’t know who wrote the text. 

We found two definitions online.  We do need some official clarification regarding the words to describe the cause of that terrible fire.

  • Incendiary – A fire intentionally ignited under circumstances where the person knows the fire should not be ignited.
  • Arson – The crime of maliciously and intentionally, or recklessly, starting a fire or causing an explosion.

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New curb and curb-cut at the northern end of Central Avenue. What is the meaning of this?  Click to enlarge the curb-cut and let a truck through. Blogfinger.net photograph. 5/14/17 ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger and Jack Bredin, Researcher @Blogfinger.net

At Blogfinger we have long been suspcious of the North End Redevelopment Plan.  Our concerns are multiple, and you can review our many articles on the subject by typing key words into the search box at the top right of this page.

One of our concerns is that there is a secret Master Plan which  would create new roadways to make the large NERP project possible.  You may recall that the Home Groaners Ass. proposed putting in some roadways near the Founders’ Park west end, supposedly to create some new parking spaces.  That ridiculous idea did not (yet) materialize, but we saw it as one piece of a destructive move to turn Lake Avenue into a two way road stretching to the boardwalk.

That could be a part of access and egress roads to and from the North End, also involving Central Avenue and Beach Avenue.  You may recall that the Tax Map and even Google Maps have been labeling Lake Avenue at its east end as “Beach Avenue.” We have written about that concern where Lake Avenue, a walkway, could become a roadway.

Lake Avenue dreaming

Beach Avenue situation

Currently, Central Avenue is being paved.  If you were to walk down to the northern-most end of Central you will see that a new curb and a new curb cut have been installed. Before this there was no curb there;  just some grass which a car or truck could ride onto.

So why has a curb cut been installed?   Firstly, curb cuts are illegal in Ocean Grove.  Secondly, the curb cut opens onto a sort of lot which could accomodate a house, but this is CMA property, and it is part of a much larger lot. It is not subdivided for a house there.

Could it be for trucks and other vehicles to ride onto?  Why would that be since there is no roadway beyond that—just the Lake Avenue walkway;  and a curb cut is not a way to access a road.

We have requested  an engineer’s plan to see if we can learn the purpose of that curb cut.

Any ideas?   (See Kevin Chambers comment by clicking below on “comments”)

Even Tony Bennett and Ralph Sharon (and his orchestra) are wondering if this curb-cut might be the start of something big.

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Two generations join the town-Wide Yard Sale on Heck Avenue in Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

By Paul  @Blogfinger:  (I disqualify myself from winning a prize)

I had purchased a new Garmin GPS, so I placed my old one out on a table at our yard sale—- marked $10.00.  A man came by and spent about 15 minutes studying it carefully.

Man:  Does this GPS have night-time lighting and does it work?

Me: Yes

Man: How old is it?

Me: About 3 years.

Man:  It’s too much money.

Me: (feeling charitable:)   OK  $5.00

Man  (taking out his wallet and staring into it)  I don’t have $5.00

Me: You can have it for free.

Man:  No, I don’t want it. I want one with all the latest features.

Me:  Sorry, but you need a new one for that.

Man: Walks away.

 

KENNY VANCE from his new album.  Kenny—We miss you in Ocean Grove:  —–PG

 

 

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March 4, 2017.  Ocean Grove fire scene taken from Asbury Park. Internet photo.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Question 1: Neptune Twp. mayor, Michael Brantley read a statement at the last Committee meeting which said that the “detective bureau deemed it to be an undetermined incendiary fire.” His text also said, “Either an arsonist deliberately, or a vagrant accidentally, set a fire to the Warrington Hotel, in a location where fire should not otherwise be present.”

The Mayor’s text used terms such as “cognitive experiments” to explain the investigation to us, and his statement was cognitively challenging.    The text of this perplexing message was sent to us by a publicist.  

Why didn’t the Mayor speak to us in his own words instead of reading a canned  and undecipherable speech that someone else presumably wrote?

The Mayor gives the appearance of someone who is concerned that he might say the wrong thing. What is he afraid of?

 

Question 2: Why hasn’t the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office given a formal statement to the press? Do you suppose that they are finding a very worrisome intertwining pattern developing ? How extensive has this investigation become?

And why did the Mayor make that statement at the Committee meeting when no one involved directly in the investigation has said anything publicly?

 

Question 3: Are they investigating the owner of the building: Jack R. Ancona, LLC/ Flatiron Real Estate Advisors? He had obtained approvals for a land-locked boutique hotel on the banks of the retention/detention basin (aka Wesley Lake.)

How did he manage to get the variances that he needed to help skirt land use law?

 

Question 4: Why was the vacated Warrington Hotel allowed to deteriorate and become a “fire trap?”

The neighbors nearby were frightened of the risk for years and they complained about it. We heard it personally when we interviewed a 91 year old man who lived alone in one of the cottages that was destroyed in the fire.

The Warrington became a big wooden box which was open to the outside creating ideal conditions for oxygen to stream in and feed the fire.

Mike, a single man who lived in a 4 unit rental house next to the Warrington,  loved his apartment near the Lake.  He  barely escaped with his life. Mike saw the danger. He said that “the stage was set” for a fire. He saw ”a fireball” coming towards him as his windows were “exploding.”  He barely got out, and “the building collapsed within 13 minutes.” He lost everything he owned including his cat.

If the building had been condemned and demolished, as it should have been, this fire would have never occurred.

 

Question 5: Why was the Warrington Hotel allowed to stand empty without being properly secured?   Suspicious people and noises from within were reported by neighbors—they called the police on many occasions in the past, but we were told that no vagrants had been seen in or around the building in recent months.

In contrast, the Whitfield site was said to have been “professionally secured” with sturdy fencing all around.

 

Question 6:   What is the liability of the Township which gave the owner permission to leave his property in a condition that created danger for those who lived nearby?

Who benefitted from leaving that property in such a condition rather than seeking to protect the neighbors from fire and from bad actors?

 

Question 7: At least 8 lawsuits are already in motion: Who are the defendants?

 

MENDELSSOHN    Psalm 42, op. 32   St. Thomas Choir (Leipzig)

 

 

 

 

 

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By Paul Goldfinger, Music Editor @Blogfinger

“The night was splendid
And the melody seemed to say,
‘Summer will pass away
Take your happiness while you may'”

Irving Berlin wrote these words, and although it was not about Ocean Grove, this town was always a place for summer music.

In June 1954, an article appeared in the famed music magazine Etude. It was called “Music at Ocean Grove” and it was largely about the Director of Music who had been there for over 20 years—-Dr. Walter D. Eddowes.

The article made it clear that the music then, in 1954, in Ocean Grove, was almost entirely “sacred.” Dr. Eddowes had an Auditorium Choir which sang the Methodist Hymnal on Sunday mornings, and this choir was a “trained” group of 300 mixed voices. That choir, together with the singing audience that numbered from about 1,200 at the start of the season to 10,000 during the height of the Camp Meeting Week produced quite a sound in the Great Auditorium. It’s a good thing they had a strong roof on that building.

There was no mention of instrumental music in this article.  They did describe the yearly “week long conference of sacred music, held each July back then, which was free, and attracted organists, choir directors, ministers and group leaders from all over the country.”

Eddowes was strict. He believed that “a real church musician feels as deeply about spiritual growth as he does about music.”  He also said, “To register with people, you must meet them in a friendly manner—but the friendliness must be genuine. Do not try to be funny!”

We can only imagine what he would say if he saw Gene Chandler, The Duke of  Earl, strutting down the main aisle of the GA during a Doo Wop concert in the Grove  (which did happen.).  Or how would he react if he heard the Tokens singing about love as they did a few years back during a concert in the GA:

THE TOKENS:

But now, despite the changes in the secular schedule, we still have an ambitious and remarkable classical schedule which includes Summer Stars (one of the most amazing bargains for a concert since the days of Mozart.)

And we have Maestro Jason Tramm, the  current Music Director in Ocean Grove, bringing fabulous major works  including an oratorio and a Choir Festival each season to the Great Auditorium, often with full choral involvement and with entire orchestras conspiring to give the audiences goose bumps.

And Gordon Turk, at the helm of the Hope-Jones organ, provides amazing regular recitals by himself and visiting artists, and those are often free.

And the remarkable Metropolitan Opera star Ronald Naldi and his cast of singers also perform regularly in the Grove.

And don’t miss Phil Smith and the Imperial Brass.  Phil, famous trumpet player and Ocean Grover, will return with some of his brass geniuses to bring us world class  brass music. (see schedule above.)

Also you might recall our post about music in OG from 1890-1900, old recordings that were reproduced and received an Academy Award nomination this year.   Here is a link to that:

OG music from 1890-1900

 

 

 

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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.”

 

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By Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor @Blogfinger

Ordinarily, Blogfinger would not take much of an interest in this story.  However, when I went over there to get some photographs, I met a resident of FAM who was strolling about with her walker.  She told me how happy she  was living at that facility.  She could see Fletcher Lake and the Ocean out her window.

The woman said that practically all the residents there loved the facility and she expressed fear that promises made might not be kept by the new owners.  In particular she said, “If my money were to run out, they said that we could continue living there and that Medicaid would provide for their continued stay.”

So we decided to continue covering this story because, after all, these residents are Grovers like the rest of us who live in this beautiful historic town.  We depend on citizen reporters who are familiar with the FAM to continue providing new information.

It occurs to us that perhaps the new owners of “Allegria at Ocean Grove” might be interested in inviting the community at large to get to know their residents as volunteers and friends.

Eileen and I gave a lecture there a year ago about preventing heart disease, and it was well received, although we had to do a little arm twisting to convince those seniors that prevention was in their best interest, despite their ages.  Eileen spoke, as she usually does, about preparing heart healthy meals, but the audience found a bit of irony in that since they don’t cook anymore. But Eileen pointed out that they could share the information with their children and grandchildren who do cook and who might need such advice.

It is the sort of community involvement that we need more of in Ocean Grove, a town in search of its inner community.

We have acquired copies of two letters that were sent to residents to reassure them about the future of FAM.  A Blogfinger citizen reporter sent us a file consisting of these two letters which were sent to the residents and their families.  If you are interested, just click on the link below.

 

FAMLetters2017

 

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From the Goldfinger family album: Aunt Jean and cousin Marty Litinger. Coney Island, 1939. Photographer unknown.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Marty Litinger, one of the heroes in my family,  served with the Coast Guard in convoys heading back and forth across the  North Atlantic making runs to England and Russia during WWII. His mom, Jean was my mother’s sister, and the family loved to meet at Coney Island where I rode the Cyclone once and the Parachute Jump once  (They made us take off our shoes.).

JOHN BARRY   “Coney Island.” from the soundtrack of the film  Across the Sea of Time.

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