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Posts Tagged ‘What will happen to the fishing pier’

1891 The South End fishing pier. Source: "Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards" by Bell and Flynn

Source: “Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards” by Bell and Flynn. With permission by Mr. W. Ted Bell of OG. Click image for full view

By Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor @Blogfinger   (Re-posted from May, 2013 on BF–Part 2 to follow)

The year is 1890.  Ocean Grove is 21 years old, and the Rev. Elwood Stokes has a public health concern–how to deal with sewage so as to avoid infectious diseases in the campground.  He writes about the subject in his annual reports, and that year he decides that their primitive sewer pipe system, where the mess is pumped into the ocean, needs to be improved.  So he extends the pipeline out about 500 feet from shore and he builds a wooden pier opposite Embury Avenue to provide protection for  the pipe.

A few years later, a better sewer system is devised, and the pier becomes a fishing pier with the Fishing Club receiving a multi-year lease and  taking up 97 feet at the end.    The 500 foot pier is destined to become a historic landmark in a historic Jersey Shore town.

Some years after that, when the North End is developed into a major recreational compound, a second pier, attached to the North End Hotel Pavilion, is built to attract strollers, fishermen  and boats.  Eventually it gets wiped out in a huge hurricane in 1938. During that viscious storm,  the south end of Ocean Grove winds up underwater after 5 days of heavy rain. The Embury Avenue pier is also badly damaged.

North End pier. From Bell and Flynn: Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards

Source: Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards by Bell and Flynn.

Big storms knock out the pier and boardwalk on multiple occasions over the years including 1922, 1927, 1938, 1953, and a huge nor’easter in December 1992.   The latter storm causes the Delaware River to back up and 4 counties along the shore to be clobbered.  There are 90 mph winds in Atlantic City.

My old friend Nick Maat, a member of the Fishing Club, from 14 Heck Avenue, witnesses the pier clubhouse being carried away by a massive wave while he stands on Ocean Avenue soaking wet and jaw agape. The Asbury Park Press interviews him, and Nick gets his 15 minutes of fame.  The pier is lost except for a small piece at the end where Ralph, the dummy fisherman, sits all by himself.  (If he only had a brain.)

A book is written about the pier, Ralph, and the storm of 1992  by Carol Egner of Ocean Grove. It is called The True Story of Ralph–the Ocean Grove Fisherman.

In 1994, the pier is rebuilt, financed by a  $144,000.00 small business loan obtained by the Fishing Club.

In 2000, a beach replenishment project causes the fishing pier to be landlocked after the water’s edge was moved eastward by 100 feet.  The pier is 338 feet at that point, and a  construction project adds another 144 feet to get the pier to its original 500 feet and over the water once again.  The $150,000 project is financed by Monmouth County, the State, the OGCMA, the Fishing Club, and Neptune Township.

Landlocked fishing pier. Asbury Park Press photo.

Landlocked fishing pier. c 2000.  Asbury Park Press photo.

In August, 2011,  Hurricane Irene causes damage to the pier. Some emergency repairs are done, but the pier is unsafe at its far end. The CMA fixes a few damaged parts of the  boardwalk.  FEMA declines to pay for repairs.

Then Sandy hits on October 29, 2012 and causes considerable destruction including the demolition of most of the pier. The clubhouse is swept out to sea in addition to all but a short section of the pier still attached to the boardwalk.

Finally, now, in 2013, a 165  foot piece of the pier will be repaired by the COGMA  to allow the public to walk out a short distance—-over the sand.  Engineers say that it is safe.

The OGCMA promises to rebuild the “non-fishing pier ” in its entirety, but that will come in the future.  Mr. William Bailey of the CMA says that the small initial section will give people hope regarding the rest of the project.  However, in a detailed press release dated April 30, the CMA did not mention the pier.

The  OG Fishing Club has a long lease, but its future has been put on hold for now.  The old-boys club (with a few old -girls)  is missing its hangout.  What’s to be done?   Maybe they should have their meetings at Old Navy.

One thing  is clear:  Both the pier and the club are woven into the fabric of Ocean Grove history, and respect must be paid.

In Part II, we will discuss the situation with officials of the  fishing club and the Camp Meeting Association.

NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND:  Fishin’ in the Dark    (something to look forward to)

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