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Things are looking up in Cape Coral. Paul Goldfinger photo.

Things are looking up in Cape Coral.    Click to enlarge.   Feb, 2017. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

Did you ever drive in Cape Coral,Fla?  Probably not. The streets are a chaotic network with names that are repetitive and confusing.  For example there is NE 12th Ave, NE 12th Court, NE 12thPlace, NE 12th St. and NE 12th Terrace.    Even my Garmin GPS shut down while trying to find a restaurant over there. Eileen’s phone-based GPS saved the day. Our car has a built-in GPS, but it’s too scary to operate.

So we finally reached our destination, but we had to park in a large lot adjoining a strip mall which had a STOP sign within.   And that’s when we looked up and saw the light show.

When I was in medical school, I would get to assist during surgery, but only to tug on retractors so that the surgeon could get a good look. One surgeon was never satisfied that I was pulling hard enough and he would say, “Lift up thine eyes unto the Lord, my boy!” I always remembered his kindly advice, and it finally came in handy in a parking lot in Cape Coral, Fla La Land.

 

CHRISTINA PERRI  “A Thousand Years.”   From the movie Twilight Saga

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Here is a warmup with a 2015 reblog regarding Jack Bredin, the artist.  Tomorrow we show Jack Bredin’s latest fanciful painting depicting the Jersey Shore . You can do a Blogfinger search (above) to see more of his work. Treat yourself and just type in the box: Jack Bredin. Click below where it says “Blogfinger.”

Blogfinger

Up on the roof with Jack Bredin, artist. OGHOA Doll House Show, 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo © Up on the roof with Jack Bredin, artist. Historical Society of Ocean Grove  Doll House Show, 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.  click to see the details.

Jack Bredin has been an artist since he was a kid.  It was always an avocation for him, and his fanciful paintings of Ocean Grove hang in a variety of locations around town. You can see some of his work  on display at the Camp Meeting Association headquarters on Pitman Avenue at Pilgrim Pathway (3 paintings) and at Grove Hall (one painting)

The Ocean Park Gallery on Cookman Avenue in A. Park is showing about ten of his works, and they are for sale.

A few months ago Jack accepted a request from Vicki Bacolo, the one-woman dynamo who every year creates the Doll  House Show at the Historical Society of Ocean Grove Museum.  She brought a doll house to Jack and asked him…

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The Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger.

The Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger  ©  c 2015

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Have any of you noticed that there is not a single organized group in town which is willing to join with Blogfinger readers in discussing and clarifying issues which our neighbors need to know about?    In the case of the ground rent topic, why won’t the Camp Meeting help us out with clarity regarding a subject which affects them and us?   Why is the OGHOA holding back on releasing the legal opinion about ground rents which was paid for with member money?

OK,  so there is a suit and maybe the lawyer told the CMA to say nothing, but they have been silent on our forum for the last 8 years.  The same thing happened during the Pavilion matter.  But they are not the only ones—we have complained about the Chamber, OGU, Historical Society, Historic Preservation Commission, and Township  elected officials among others.

We are not complaining on behalf of Blogfinger—-  instead we are concerned about those readers who seek honest debate and factual discourse on this site.

Perhaps you have observed that none of these groups offer the opportunity for discussion on their web sites.   The Township Committee will scarcely allow citizens at their public meetings to bring up controversial issues.

I think that it is fear—-they are frightened to stand behind their views, to be honest with our readers, and, especially to have to answer questions in writing.  They won’t even do it anonymously.

The only time that such interaction actually occurred was during the few years when  Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn participated regularly  in our comments section.  That was illuminating, honest, caring, educational and a breath of fresh air, and we won’t forget her for that.

So we currently depend on courageous readers such as Dr. Carol, Joe D, Joe G, Sal, Wisher, Frank S, J.Cortese, Kevin Chambers, David, OhGee, Paulie D, A. Curmudgeon, Tom C, OGrover, Nancy,  and many others who are not afraid to interact on BF.  And, of course, we are grateful to Jack Bredin who courageously sticks his neck out  regularly, uses his real name, and speaks truth to power on this blog and in person to the Committee.

However we would like  the “players” themselves to join in, but they are frightened of being exposed.

Recently OGU invited its members to join a women’s protest march in Washington. But why won’t they invite their members to join the conversations here regarding our town and why did they tape their mouths shut in the shadows of the Great Auditorium when they demonstrated there, refusing to talk to us about their concerns in Ocean Grove ?   Are our issues  in this town less important than politics in Washington? Did they tape their mouths in D.C.?

The former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill,  said that all politics are local, but we are having trouble getting the process going in the Grove because of fear and the corrosive silent treatment pervasive in this town.

ANITA O’DAY:

 

 

This photo essay of the 2016 Neptune High School graduation continues to attract viewers, so we are reblogging it now for your enjoyment, especially if you missed it.

NHS graduation in the Great Auditorium is a much anticipated tradition in Neptune Township. At one point in the recent past (2011) its continuation was threatened, but it survived, and these images document its importance.

Click on the word “Blogfinger” below this sentence.  And don’t forget to start the music before viewing the images.—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

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Neptune High School graduation. Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ. Photo by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff. © Neptune High School graduation. Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ. Photo by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff. ©

Monday night.  June 20, 2016.  the first day of summer.

Text and all photos below by Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

I got to the Great Auditorium as the names of the Class of 2016, Neptune High School, were being read.  There was a joyful noise as cheers erupted, one after the other, like a happy chain reaction. Then they all stood for the Star Spangled Banner, and then  over 300 Scarlet Fliers were clutching their diplomas as they flowed out into the twilight.   I stood there,  enveloped by the moving throng.  There were hugs, kisses, laughter and yes joy all around me.  It was hard to focus the camera.

The crowd was in motion as the grads greeted their families, friends and colleagues.  No doubt there will be parties, as there should be…

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Auditorium Square Park. July, 2016.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Auditorium Square Park. July, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©   Click image to enlarge. 

NORAH JONES  “Carnival Town”      From her album Feels Like Home.

Biggar farm. Biggar than what? Love is strange.

Biggar farm. Biggar than what? Love is strange.  Paul Goldfinger photo. Feb. 2017 ©  Click to enlarge.

MICKEY AND SYLVIA (from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack)

 

 

a-night-at-the-opera-the-marx-brothers-movie-poster-db3w7b

Dr. Carol sent a comment to Blogfinger today under the article “Ramifications, Speculations and Interrogations.”  If you can bear to read the comment, you will see an authentic copy of an original 1870 “indenture” (ie legal agreement) between the CMA and the person who originally leased the lot that she currently lives on.  It contains a tremendous muddle of legalese including lots of “party of the first part” language.

It reminded me of a Groucho Marx shtick from the 1935 movie “A Night at the Opera.”  Somehow lawyers have still not learned how to speak English.

 

 

And, speaking of the Marx Brothers, here’s a song that you can use after spending  5 minutes at a Home Groaners meeting:

 

This piece, “Benedictus,” is from the Mass for Peace  written by Karl Jenkins in 1999. It is performed by two young classically trained cellists named Luka Sulic and Stejepa Hause who perform as the “2Cellos.”

The concert shown in the video below was at the Arena Zagreb in the capital of Croatia.  The video offers a different listening experience as you watch these two remarkable musicians presented in an amazingly dramatic visual fashion.

For those of you with quality audio equipment for your computer, here is an audio-only version to click on below this line.  At the same time, play the video while muting the video’s soundtrack.

BENEDICTUS by the 2Cellos:

 

Source: Seasons General Store in OG.

Source: Seasons General Store in OG.

 By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.  Jack Bredin, Blogfinger researcher.

The law suit described above is about two OG condominium associations who are suing the Camp Meeting Association regarding ground rents.  But we haven’t seen the complaint and we don’t know what the complaint really is and what issues will be considered and explored during  the discovery phase if it goes to trial. 

Because of all the uncertainty, we have a wide open pathway for discussion, and won’t it be interesting to guess how many different spinoffs will be generated.

Fundamental assumptions will be questioned.   Let’s begin with a collection of questions and ideas.  Then send in your suggestions about where this suit will lead.  Click on comments below or send an email to Blogfinger@verizon.net.  If you ask to be anonymous, you will  be.  If you don’t share your email with us, we can’t talk to you individually. 

1. Recently the OGHOA hired a lawyer to look into the ground rent matter. We don’t exactly know what his instructions were, but he cost the HOA $7,000. HOA members: where is your loyalty?    You should demand that the identity of that lawyer be revealed and his report made public.   (See Kevin Chambers’ inquiry about this.)

https://blogfinger.net/2017/01/30/just-wondering-what-happened-to-the-legal-opinion-on-ground-rents/

2.   Will the court find that condo owners should be treated the same as other resident owners and be charged $10.50 per year ground rent?  Will the court find that condo owners can be treated on a case to case basis, whereas home owners in town are mostly treated as if they were all the same?  Will using home assessments to determine fees be OK for condo owners,  but not for regular  homeowners?

3.   Who really owns the land in Ocean Grove?  If the CMA owns the land, then how come we homeowners have to pay property taxes to Neptune Township?  Why doesn’t the CMA pay the taxes?  (This was questioned in court in the past, and the citizens lost that battle.)  If the CMA doesn’t own the land, then will the current homeowners own the land?   Will the CMA produce proof that they own the land?

4. If the CMA loses and has to return a ton of money, will it go bankrupt?

5. If the CMA loses, then they may not be able to make much money from condo’s in the future.  If that happens, will they still support the construction of up to 165 condos at the North End?  Will the North End Redevelopment Plan collapse before it begins?

6.  If the CMA cannot make much money from the approval of more condos in the Grove, will they become supporters of single family zoning in town and opponents to more condos?  

7.   Will the CMA be able to continue raising the leasehold fees whenever it wants to, without providing justification?  

8. The CMA is a secretive private organization. Will it have to open its books to the court?  Will its officers and trustees have to undergo depositions?

9.  Will the condo associations involved in the suit be able to continue paying high legal fees if this suit drags on?  Can the CMA afford a long legal process?

10.  Will other condominium associations join the suit?

Tell us your ideas.  Please read the rules above about commenting on Blogfinger.

MERLE HAGGARD WITH THE PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND:

 Editor’s note:   On Feb 22, 2017, Blogfinger posted a Letter to the Editor containing a discussion of the history of ground rents in Ocean Grove.  Scroll back to find it.

 

The Dardanelle, #40 Ocean Pathway. Stephen Goldfinger photo. 2/17/17 ©

The Dardanelle, #40 Ocean Pathway. Stephen Goldfinger photo. 2/17/17 ©

 

#30 Ocean Pathway--main section. Another building to the left. Stephen Goldfinger photo. © 2/17/17

#30 Ocean Pathway–main section. Another building to the left. Stephen Goldfinger photo. © 2/17/17

 

Left side of #30 Ocean Pathway. Stephen Goldfinger photo © 2/17/17 ©

Left side of #30 Ocean Pathway. Stephen Goldfinger photo © 2/17/17 ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.   Sources: Jack Bredin, researcher and another ( anonymous) source as well.

Last week, Don Stine, reporter at the Coaster, reported that two condominium associations in Ocean Grove had filed a suit against the OGCMA because they believe that the land lease fee (“ground rent”) agreements are illegal and/or  invalid.

The lawyer on the case is James T. Hundley of OG, and the plaintiffs are the 22 unit Pathway Condominium Association at 30 Ocean Pathway and the 6 unit Dardanelle Condominium Association at 40 Ocean Pathway.  Note that there are 26 condo associations in OG.,

Those of us who own houses in the Grove have paid a stable ground rent of $10.50 per year to the CMA. Because the price is so small, we know of no formal complaints about that. Some Grovers have thought that those ground rents might be illegal or at least controversial, but they considered it a “tradition” and simply wrote the check each year. In fact some Grovers voluntarily have sent more because $10.50 is so inexpensive.

Condominiums have been around for a long time in OG, and the condo owners have been charged ground rents in a different way than the single family homes are charged. In 2004, there were 308 condo units in the Grove. Now there are quite a few more.

Under the prior agreements negotiated by developers with the CMA, the condo’s represent a different use than a regular house. The CMA considered that condominiums are a “newer type of ownership” and thus are legitimately different for ground rent purposes than the historic model of a single family home on a single lot.

These leasehold agreements have nothing to do with property taxes between the condo owner and the Township. In that public model, the homeowner gets to look at the budget and even to comment on it, but with ground rents, we have a private agreement between developers and CMA, and the CMA does not have to defend any fee increases. The condo owners have simply paid the fees each year, despite some changes in the agreements and sometimes fee increases.

The CMA viewed condo’s as a sort of commercial venture, and each condo that came along would be considered on a case by case basis in terms of the leaseholds. Because the condos were different than traditional houses, the CMA felt justified in charging more, to change the charges whenever they wanted, and to do it with a sliding scale. The same holds true for commercial enterprises which are handled differently than residences.

Most of the earlier condominiums have had stable ground rent charges which, although higher than a regular house, have generally been quite reasonable, for example $50.00 or $100.00. That is why no condo owners have complained until now. Note that condo fees vary from unit to unit because each agreement is decided individually.

If we look back in history, the story of the leaseholds is murky, at least as I discovered when researching Ocean Grove history in the past. In 1870, the town, a planned community, was divided into 30 x 60 lots. There were tents and then the early construction of cottages. Rev. Stokes held a “sale” of lots, and James Bradley “bought” the first for $85.00. Every historical account I could find referred to these lots as having been purchased by individuals, with a deed being issued.

But somewhere along the line, the CMA came to once again own all the lots and lease the land to the homeowners. I can find no clear explanation as to what happened. In fact, is there any documentation that the CMA actually owns all the land in town?

Ted Bell, OG historian and author, told us that the leasing arrangement was the truth from the beginning, so for purposes of this discussion, we will consider that the CMA owns the land and is justified to charge lease fees.

So what happened that led up to this suit? We can speculate that the leasehold amounts charged for new condos in the last 4 or 5 years have gone up considerably, perhaps to $1,000 per year, on a sliding scale according to the Township assessments (recently raised substantially) on the condos and tied to the CPI.

The financial pressures on condo owners lately have become significant including higher property taxes, condominium association fees, common area charges, maintenance, and assessments for improvements. There also has been talk of shoddy workmanship in some of the new buildings and high turnover of the units because residents find that they are poor investments.

This lawsuit is quite fascinating and could have major implications  (see below) in town if the CMA loses, and then others join a class action suit. It is possible that the CMA might have to make retroactive payments if they lose, although we are told that such an outcome would be unlikely.

The CMA is already in a precarious financial situation, so this is potentially an explosive and dangerous suit for them and for the financial stability of the town.

Below is the last statement made by the CMA regarding this matter, but we don’t know if the COO considers condominiums to be “residences.” In a post to follow, we will discuss the ramifications of all this. Please comment here or on the next post.

ogcma-statement-1

 

THE CZECH PHILHARMONIC from the film soundtrack The Secret Garden.

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