Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Former Cafe Aletta owners open 414 Seafood and Chop House, continue serving Italian fare at Market

LBI diners looking to indulge in a nice, big, crusty steak have to look no further than 414 Seafood and Chop House in Surf City. The new restaurant, which has taken over the site of the former Cafe Aletta Italian eatery on Long Beach Boulevard, uses a high-intense broiler that cooks at about 950 degrees, caramelizing the steaks from the top down. Most of the steaks and chops are served bone-in, from the 28-ounce ribeye to the twin 8-ounce T-bone lamb chops.
Photo via Google
414 is one of the only restaurants in
Surf City that offers outdoor seating.
“I don’t think there’s any other place on the Island to go get a nice, beautiful steak,” said Ricky Brennen, who co-owns the restaurant with local chef Greg Mann. “We thought the Island could use a great, little chophouse with fresh seafood.”
Other steaks and chops offered at 414 include an 18-ounce New York strip steak, double-cut pork chop with garlic herb butter, 12-ounce filet mignon at $48, and steak-frites with a 10-ounce flat iron and parmesan pomme frites.
The seafood menu ranges from coriander-crusted tuna with sautéed spinach, tobacco onions and lemongrass ginger demi glaze to Barnegat Light day boat scallops with summer vegetables, sweet potato hay and beet chive vinaigrette as well as grilled swordfish with spinach, roasted tomato, kalamata olives, feta and preserved lemon, and Jail Island salmon with braised fennel and fresh dill cream sauce. Jumbo shrimp, baked clam, lump crab cake at $21, oysters, New England clam chowder and mussels are also available as appetizers.
“If you want seafood, I think we have some of the best seafood to offer,” Brennen said.
Though many of the area’s foodies enjoyed the Italian fare at Cafe Aletta, Brennen and Mann, who owned and operated the restaurant for eight years before closing it after last season, said they wanted to revamp the menu and try something different.
“You can go to several places and get good Italian,” Brennen stated. “It seems like every year there’s less and less commercial property down here, so if it’s flooded with Italian food, we just felt that, in our eyes, a chophouse would be on the money here.”
Customers will be happy to know that a few of Cafe Aletta’s popular dishes have been kept on the menu, including the bone-in chicken parmesan and bone-in veal parmesan as well as the eggplant and fresh mozzarella salad with beefsteak tomato, arugula, basil and balsamic glaze.
Photo via Market
The owners also operate Market, a casual,
Italian bistro down the street from 414.
Patrons craving more of the former cafe’s Italian specialties can head over to Market, Brennen and Mann’s other restaurant located just a block away from 414. Market opened last summer offering breakfast, produce and fresh juicing. But this year the owners brought in a brick-oven for casual dining such as pizzas and paninis, to revamp the eatery into a beachside Italian bistro.
“The Market was more of a market, but we realized we’re not really grocers,” said Brennen. “We like food, so this year we changed Market’s identity a bit.”
People can stop by wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops, grab a seat at the high-top, communal tables and chow down on a hot sandwich, pasta, shellfish or various homemade salads for lunch or dinner.
“By moving the food down here, we didn’t lose it,” stated Brennen. “People still like it. They get upset when they pull up and Cafe Aletta’s not there anymore, and then you tell them that it’s here and they come in and buy the pre-made sauces and meatballs that we make homemade that were at Cafe Aletta. So it’s still living. People think that it’s gone, but the talent’s still here.”
“It’s family-friendly,” he added. “Go with your kids, grab a pizza and pastas, slurp down some clams. It’s casual, grab-and-go, or you can eat-in, chill out.”
Local delivery is also available as well as customized catering for customers who want help planning a lunch or dinner.
“The glory of it is Greg can make anything,” said Brennen, noting “anything anyone wants” can be provided with proper notice.
Mann, who runs the kitchen at both eateries, also owns and operates Yellow Fin restaurant in town. He started learning the chef business in New York City restaurants owned by Robert DeNiro and then worked at many other types of eateries, including Italian, French and Asian food restaurants.
“I like Italian products,” said Mann, who uses caputo flour imported from Italy, which he considers the finest in the world. “I like making pizzas; I enjoy it. It’s fun because you get to see them cook right in here. I’ve been at Yellow Fin for 20 years, so it’s been a long time since I’ve worked anywhere else.”
The goal is to serve quality food and build a successful brand, Brennen said, noting he’d like to set up a mainstay restaurant up north with a full staff on hand year ’round so it’s easier to function during summers at the shore.
“Our passion is food. We like it, we like the business,” stated Brennen. “You don’t come down here just to stay for one year. It’s a lot of money, a lot of time invested. It’s a lot of sacrifice away from your family. So you come down here, and you try to bang out the season and make it last as long as you can. Mother Nature controls that. It wasn’t a very good June, weather-wise. It felt like it was winter in June. So we hope for a good September. September and October can be great months.”
414 is open seven days a week from 5 to 10 p.m. Market is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit and, or call 609-467-7436 or 609-494-3400.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Smoking banned at Long Beach Island beaches, parks

Gov. Chris Christie recently agreed to extend the provisions of the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act,” adopted in 2005 to ban smoking at indoor public places and workplaces, to also prohibit smoking at state-owned parks and beaches. He did not, however, agree to extend the law to include parks and beaches within the jurisdiction of local governments.
Photo via Brigantine Now
Lighting up on LBI's beaches may result
in fines and a required court appearance.
New Jersey has 39 state parks and forests, including Barnegat Lighthouse State Park in Barnegat Light and Island Beach State Park, across the bay from the Barnegat Lighthouse.
While Christie said he “abhors” smoking, he believes banning the act at county- and community-run parks and beaches should be decided upon at the local level “in their own ways,” the governor stated in his conditional veto message.
Christie’s agreement, though, is a marked compromise. Two years ago he entirely vetoed a similar bill. At that time, the governor noted that a dozen of the state’s counties and more than 200 of the state’s 565 municipalities had banned smoking at their parks and beaches. Since then, nearly 100 more towns have adopted related laws.
Surf City Councilman Peter Hartney said the borough supports Christie’s conditional veto since the bill would have implemented additional costs to the town, from requiring signs at all park and beach entrances to delineating 15 percent of the beach as a smoking area as well as facing fines if the provisions of the law were not enforced.
“In terms of a bill, it doesn’t have an internal logic to it. There’s lots of problems with it,” Hartney stated.
Smoking is prohibited in Surf City at the bay bathing beach as well as at the children’s playground at South First Street and Barnegat Avenue. The no-smoking ordinance was adopted by the town council in 2012. Fines for infractions average $100 with a required court appearance, including a $33 court fee.
Long Beach Island’s other five municipalities also have smoking bans at their parks and/or beaches.
Beach Haven adopted an ordinance in May to ban smoking on all borough beaches, including within 15 feet of the beach access pathways, as well as in any recreational or park area or borough-owned property. First offense violations include a fine of up to $50 or no more than two days of community service; a second offense is punishable by a fine of not more than $100 or community service of not less than five days; and a third offense within the same calendar year includes a fine of not less than $200 or community service of not less than 10 days, or any combination of fine and community service as determined by the municipal court judge.
Smoking is prohibited on any beach or resort area in Barnegat Light during the summer, from May 1 through Sept. 30 of each year. The ban was implemented last summer after the town received complaints from the public regarding secondhand smoke and cigarette butt litter. Violators issued a police summons are required to make a court appearance, where the judge would set the fine.
Smoking on any of Long Beach Township’s beaches, as well as at Bayview Park in Brant Beach, is prohibited from May 20 to Oct. 1 of every year, though smoking within the park’s playground area is barred at all times. Anyone in violation of the smoking ban, adopted in 2014, is liable to receive a fine of up to $1,000.
In Harvey Cedars, smoking is prohibited on all beaches between the swimming flags during hours when lifeguards are on duty. Smoking is banned year ’round at Sunset Park, excluding designated parking areas. Anyone caught lighting up in these prohibited areas may receive a minimum fine of $50.
Smoking is banned on all of Ship Bottom’s beaches between the surfside flags during on-duty lifeguard hours. Smoking is banned at all times at the playground areas of Waterfront Park, located at 10th Street and Shore Avenue, and the bay bathing beach between 15th and 16th streets. Any infractions may result in a fine of up to $100.
Both Harvey Cedars’ and Ship Bottom’s no-smoking laws went into effect in 2013.
If the bill had been approved as introduced, the Democratic-controlled state Legislature would have banned cigarette, cigar, pipe and electronic device smoking in any state park or forest, county or municipal park, or state or municipal beach. Anyone caught breaking the law would be required to pay a fine of not less than $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
To implement the ban as amended by Christie, both houses of the Legislature would have to consent to the changes and vote on a revised version of the bill.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Firefighters suffer from heat exhaustion at Surf City structure fire

Two firefighters from the High Point Volunteer Fire Co. in Harvey Cedars had to be treated for heat exhaustion after responding to a structure fire in Surf City Thursday, July 21. One of the firefighters was transported to Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin for further evaluation. He was released later that evening.
Photo via Surf City Volunteer Fire Co.
Firefighters cut a hole in the roof to make
conditions safer for the firefighters indoors.
Due to the hot weather conditions that day, Surf City Fire Chief Michael Wolfschmidt requested extra manpower and ambulances to the scene. Wolfschmidt was the first to arrive at the residence at North 16th Street and Central Avenue, just after 2:30 p.m., where he witnessed smoke seeping out of the roof of the attached garage.
“When it’s hot outside, we need to constantly rotate our firefighters to provide adequate rehabilitation and hydration,” he stated. “Wearing full firefighting gear and going into a burning building is like being a baked potato in an oven, plus add on 90-plus degree outside temperature and humidity. Firefighters operate in extreme conditions, and it’s my duty as the chief to make sure everyone is safe. So I made sure we had enough help to keep our firefighters as safe as possible.”
Surf City and Ship Bottom firefighters contained the fire to the garage’s attic and kept it from progressing into the house by stationing a hose line in the attic between the fire and interior wall of the attached home, Wolfschmidt explained, noting access to the fire was challenging because of the the plywood construction of the attic floor and an abundance of flammable storage in the attic. Firefighters from High Point and Stafford Township departments then cut a hole in the attic’s roof to air out the extreme inside heat and smoke, which helped make conditions safer for the firefighters indoors.
“All of the crews did an outstanding job, especially given the hot weather conditions,” said Wolfschmidt, adding that one of Surf City’s firefighters, who did not have his pager with him, arrived on scene after he heard the siren, “once again proving the need for our newly replaced fire siren.”
The fire was contained within an hour, and crews stayed on scene to implement overhaul and to check for fire extension. All units had left the scene by 5 p.m.
Wolfschmidt gave a special thank-you to the Ship Bottom Fire Co. Auxiliary and the citizens who stopped by to provide crews with bottles of drinking water.
Beach Haven, Barnegat Light and Forked River fire companies as well as Surf City EMS and Barnegat Light and Beach Haven first aid squads also responded to the scene. Fire companies from Barnegat and Eagleswood townships each sent apparatus to the Surf City and Ship Bottom firehouses in case of other calls.
“I am very proud to say that all agencies worked together extremely well, and they did an outstanding job in successfully saving the home,” Wolfschmidt said.
Michael Marks, deputy fire marshal at the Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, who led the investigation on the source and cause of the fire, deemed it accidental.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Garden Club of LBI raising awareness for monarch butterflies

Photo via LBI Garden Club
Garden Club member Julie Alloway plants
milkweed at the Surf City breeding station.
To help revive the monarch butterfly population that has declined significantly in recent years, the Garden Club of Long Beach Island’s Birds and Wildlife committee, led by Judie Alloway, has installed monarch breeding stations up and down the Island. Two sites are operational so far, including one outside ScoJo’s Restaurant in Surf City and another at the Beach Haven Public Library.
A main contributor to the rapid decline of monarchs, which are the only butterflies known to make a two-way migration just as birds do, is the loss of milkweed due to over-development as well as the widespread use of herbicides. Milkweed leaves are the monarch caterpillars’ sole food source.
The garden club’s new breeding stations are equipped with two types of milkweed that are best suited for the local area: Aslepias incarnate, a pale pink-to-purple variety, and Asclepias tuberosa, which are bright orange.
Monarch butterflies, which cannot survive the cold winters in the north, make an astonishing 3,000-mile migration from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico each year. Although the number of monarchs returning to Mexico this past winter was 3½ times greater than the previous year, “we cannot become complacent,” said Teresa Hagen, a member of the garden club.
“Monarch populations are measured in acres, and while last winter’s population covered 10 acres and was a measurable improvement, it is still lower than the 44 acres covered in 1995,” she stated, adding that in those 20 years, between 1995 and 2015, the number of monarchs in the eastern U.S. decreased by more than 90 percent.
The monarch migration, which many people believe is one of the most magnificent natural wonders of the world, is in danger of vanishing.
“There is something we can do, and this spring the garden club did it,” Hagen said.
Educational information to inform the public about the importance of planting milkweed, which types are best for LBI and what to look for once the monarch has laid her eggs has been provided by the garden club and can be found at ScoJo’s and the library.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Surf City’s fire siren sounds again

Photo by Ryan Morrill
The new siren is bolted into place at the station.
The Surf City Volunteer Fire Co. and EMS siren is back in action after being out of commission for about five months. The new siren, which was donated by the Marmora Volunteer Fire Co. in Upper Township, was installed last Thursday with assistance from the Beach Haven and High Point volunteer fire companies and a crew from Alan’s Electric in Manahawkin as well as several Surf City firefighters.
“It was quite a process,” said Michael Wolfschmidt, Surf City fire chief.
The group worked off the platform of Beach Haven’s tower truck to cut off the base of the old siren, which was “extremely rusted,” he stated. High Point’s ladder truck was then used to lift the old siren to the ground and raise the new one, which was bolted into place and rewired.
Wolfschmidt gave “a big thank you” to Adam and Amos of Alan’s Electric, who “did an outstanding job.”
The siren, made by Federal Signal, which is the same model as Surf City’s former siren, was refurbished by Wolfschmidt’s brother, Andy, who is also a member of the local department. It has been painted a customary red color since red demonstrates “courage and valor” in the fire service, the chief said.
“I am very proud and happy to have the siren back,” Wolfschmidt stated. “It is truly a time-tested method of alerting our volunteers, especially in our unique coastal community. It was a time-consuming project, which involved a lot of hard work from many people. But we did it together with great teamwork. It’s been a busy year so far with many projects to improve the fire company, and I am very proud and thankful for everyone’s hard work and dedication to our organization.”
Public donations for the siren, received after Wolfschmidt made a Facebook post in May about its unexpected demise due to damage from the area’s salt air environment, will be used to offset the cost of hiring an electrician. Wolfschmidt said he didn’t know how much that will cost since he hadn’t yet received the bill. Any money left over will go toward professionally maintaining the siren each year to prolong its use.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Crews cut off the base of the old siren.
A Surf City resident initially donated $2,500 to help start a siren fund since purchasing a brand-new siren would have cost the department $15,000.
Paul Hoster, president of the Marmora Fire Co., who’s been an active firefighter with the department for 31 years, reached out to Wolfschmidt after reading his post, which was shared by a Washington Township firefighter through the SJFiretalk Facebook page.
“I read Facebook a lot,” Hoster said. “It’s quite a useful medium. We have 2,000 members in SJFiretalk, so there’s a lot of potential people that can find things out and put up for the other people to see.”
The Marmora Fire Co., which serves Beesleys Point, Marmora and a portion of Palermo as well as an 8-mile stretch of the Garden State Parkway, took its three sirens out of service a couple of years ago when they became a maintenance issue.
“We were constantly fixing them,” said Hoster.
“Plus the people always grumbled about them,” he added, noting the members tried not to use the sirens after 10 p.m. “The noon whistle everybody was used to, but it just got to a point with the maintenance on them and so forth that we decided not to bother with them.”
The Marmora Fire Co., which usually has at least 50 active members, uses an Active911 app that shows members where the call is on a map using GPS, “which is a nice feature,” said Hoster. The app also shows how many members are responding so that the chief can have a head count and make decisions on whether he needs additional manpower, he explained.
“We don’t use them (sirens). In our area, our pagers and our cell phones all seem to work pretty well for us,” Hoster said, noting the company used to utilize Plectron scanners, which are basically one-channel receivers that were plugged into a wall at each of the members’ homes. “We just had them sitting there, but we knew the sirens worked when we took them down, so we offered them to Surf City. The company voted unanimously to give it to them. We donated everything we had for it.”
In an effort to be courteous to those who live near the Surf City fire station, Wolfschmidt has decided to decrease the number of cycles when members are notified of a fire call from five to three. However, he said the department is still trying to figure out how to make the electronic adjustment since the individual who set up the original system passed away last year.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding while we learn how to make that change,” said Wolfschmidt.
The Surf City department normally activates the siren, which was last replaced in 2004,­­­­­­ for all fire and rescue calls, though it is not used for emergency medical calls. The siren is vital to the department for assembling firefighters to the station for urgent situations, Wolfschmidt said. Although the fire company also uses electronic paging equipment and a smartphone app to notify members of calls, the gear is not always dependable, he added.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

30th annual mini golf tournament in Surf City is a swinging-good time

Photo via Island Golf
Island Golf is one of the oldest mini golf
courses on Long Beach Island.
Numerous players brought their A-games to the Island Golf Course in Surf City during the borough taxpayer association’s annual Miniature Golf Tournament, on Wednesday, July 13. This is the 30th year the association has hosted the event. Seventy-four scores were submitted to 18 association volunteers, who kept tally during the tournament.
John Ligouri took first place in the 8 and under age group, by posting a 2-under-par 40.
“That is a significant achievement for the youngster,” said Pete Williams, president of the Surf City Taxpayers Association.
Next year’s players should watch out for Julian Thomas when he competes in the senior division next year, said Williams. A Delaware native, Thomas won first and third place in the ages 9 to 15 division by shooting a score of 33.
A three-way tie culminated among Ken Cadmus, Beau Guarino and Ben Skimmons in the ages 16 and over division. They all finished at the top of the leader board with a score of 35 at the end of their rounds. The shootout was won on the second play-off hole when Cadmus ended the match with a hole-in-one.
“The over 16 age group is open to anyone 16 years old and older. We had a woman who competed this year who was over 80,” Williams noted.
The association thanked Surf City Five and 10 for its “generous donation” of prize money as well as the staff at Island Golf for their “outstanding hospitality.”
Another tournament will take place on Aug. 10, at 10 a.m.
A Sand Sculpture Contest, the association’s most popular event, is set for Aug. 3 at the 14th Street beach in Surf City. The event, co-sponsored by Ron Jon Surf Shop, will begin at 10 a.m. Judging will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. All borough ordinances, including beach badge requirements, will be enforced.
For more information, visit
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Surf City exceeds $450,000 in beach revenue earlier than last year

Photo via The SandPaper
The current population of beach-goers is 47,000.
As of July 8, Surf City had accumulated $451,721 in beach revenue, which means the town reached its target 10 days ahead of last year. Revenue from the beaches was projected in the budget at the beginning of the year at $450,000. As of July 12, the total revenue was $462,680, which is $13,974 ahead of 2015. So far, the town has exceeded its anticipated revenue by $12,680. A total of 21,777 badges has been sold this year, which is already 609 more than last year.
“This is all good because we’ve had additional expenses we’ve had to cover on the beach this year to make the beaches accessible after (Winter Storm) Jonas,” Councilman Peter Hartney stated at the borough council’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 13.
The town is still waiting to hear back from the Federal Emergency Management Agency about recouping some of those costs.
The borough has received calls from people asking for extensions to the beach entrances at the north end of town, which Mayor Francis Hodgson said the borough will not be implementing since beach replenishment in that area should begin in about two weeks.
“We would be throwing good money away,” Hartney said. “It hasn’t changed from previous years; there was never any hard-pack at those entrances at the north end. For us to put hard-pack down now for two weeks and the (U.S.) Army Corps (of Engineers) to come bury it, that’s not a good idea.”
Surf City has been voted one of the best beaches in Ocean County as part of New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s 2016 New Jersey’s Favorite Beach Poll. Hartney thanked public works Superintendent Tom Hudson and his crew as well as the beach patrol for keeping the beaches clean and safe “so people want to come back.”
According to a Surf City Beach Patrol report, the population of beach-goers in town is at 47,000. So far, the lifeguards have made 59 saves due to recent rip currents.
“This is extremely high,” said Councilman James Russell, who noted he would normally expect two or three saves this time of year.
There have also been three first aid responses on the beach.
Due to ongoing concerns from multiple municipalities in the state regarding the need to resolve “nuisance flooding” that has become more frequent and with higher levels of water since Superstorm Sandy, the Army Corps has agreed to take the issue into consideration during an upcoming three-year study, said Councilwoman Jackie Siciliano, who attended a meeting last month with USACE and representatives from other municipalities to discuss ways to improve the communities for category four storms.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection engineers are expected to survey Surf City to find “some workable solution” regarding the area’s consistent back-bay flooding, though Siciliano noted FEMA is dealing with a money-flow issue.
“We’re in the middle of the pack, so it means that we’re not at the tail end of any dredging projects, but we’re still a year to a year-and-a-half away before seeing that happen,” she said, noting all of the state’s dredging projects have also been affected by the state Department of Transportation’s work stoppage.
In other meeting news, police responded last month to an unresponsive male whom officers revived with the administration of Narcan.
“It’s a sad commentary on where we are these days, but fortunately we have something in the police car to save people,” said Councilman William Hodgson. “Hopefully they’ll save themselves eventually.”
Repairs to cracks on the tennis courts have been completed. Russell said he hopes the people who advocated for the repairs are using the courts.
“I go by them every day, and very seldom do I see anybody down there,” he noted.

— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fill-A-Cruiser Food Drive rallies community 'for a good cause’

Photo by Ryan Morrill
Officers Kyle Costabile and Sarah Roe get read
to drive the donations over to the food pantry.
On Monday, members of the Surf City Police Department dropped off two shopping carts-worth of food and personal hygiene items to the St. Francis Food Pantry in Brant Beach. The donated items, which included nonperishable food products such as canned vegetables and fruits, pastas and sauces, cereals, crackers and toiletries, were collected from community members during the department’s first Fill-A-Cruiser Food Drive of the season at the Surf City Farmers Market.
Other contributions included a box of tomatoes from Headley Farms, a staple farm at the market, as well as monetary donations from Lou’s Electric and a couple of private citizens.
“Surf City Police Department believes it’s important to give back to the community,” said Patrolwoman Sarah Roe. “As police officers, we come into contact with people from all walks of life. The unfortunate reality is some people struggle and do not have the means to put food on their tables every night. As a police agency, we serve the people and want to help as many individuals as we can. So this seemed like a great opportunity to rally the community for a good cause.”
Utilizing a police cruiser as the drop-off location makes it easy to transport the donations directly to the St. Francis Center, Roe said.
This is the second year the department has held a food drive for the local food pantry, which serves Southern Ocean County residents from Forked River to Tuckerton.
“We have done donation drives for other organizations in the past, but St. Francis Center is one that is dear to our hearts as it benefits the people in our very community,” Roe said. “When we arrived at the food pantry with the donations, we were told they were running low. So they were extremely thankful for the donations.”
The food pantry is constantly in need of food, said Lori Tomaro, Family Support Services director at St. Francis, who noted the pantry served 3,601 families, including 4,542 children, in 2015.
“We appreciate the Surf City Police Department’s efforts in collecting food for our pantry,” she said. “We witness daily the appreciation of our residents in need. We are grateful to be part of a community who cares about their neighbors.”
The food pantry collects staple items such as peanut butter, jelly, pasta and pasta sauce, soup, tuna, canned fruit and vegetables and personal hygiene products.
“We would like to thank everyone who dropped off donations and supported our event,” Roe said. “Without the support of the community, we could not have had such a successful event.”
Another Fill-A-Cruiser Food Drive will be held at the market at the Surf City Firehouse on Aug. 15, from 8 a.m. to noon.
For more information, visit the Surf City Police Department’s Facebook page and sign up for Nixle alerts.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Completion of Beach Haven’s public dune walkovers pushed back two weeks

The final construction of Beach Haven’s public dune walkovers, including street-end extensions at some entrances as well as rail fencing, should be completed in about two weeks now that an additional contract among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state Department of Environmental Protection and Agate Construction, which is performing the job, has been successfully negotiated. The work was stalled for a bit until the contract was signed.
“Anybody who has a longer walk from the street to the dune will find there was an area where they (the Army Corps) stopped with the hard-pack and there was soft sand,” Borough Manager Richard Crane stated at the borough council’s monthly meeting on Monday, July 11. “The soft sand, particularly for those that may be challenged in their walking abilities, was a little difficult.”
Crane said the Army Corps somehow left that part out of the original contract.
“We had done some additional work for them to do this. Why it took so long to get that additional contract approved is anybody’s guess, but it is,” he said. “They have a couple of crews out there right now working on that.”
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Construction of the handicap-accessible, public 
walkover at Fifth Street begins as replenishment ends.
During the meeting, the borough council adopted an ordinance amendment to authorize and regulate the construction of private dune walkovers for oceanfront-lot owners who have executed the easement required for the replenishment project. Local resident James Lynch expressed dismay over the added fees, which include a $100 permit fee and a $75 annual re-inspection fee.
“This is, to me, just another added tax to people who are already paying a fair amount of taxes, to people who voluntarily gave up the easements to their property and to people whose dune fencing that was put in at a considerable cost after (Superstorm) Sandy was just taken out by the borough without any notice at all,” he said.
Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis said the town has to follow the Army Corps’ regulations.
“We had a more liberal dune walkover ordinance, but we were told that we couldn’t allow some of the things we had in it,” she stated.
The fees were implemented to off-set the cost of having to hire an inspector, the mayor said.
The borough’s dune planting committee will plant shrubbery on the west side of the dunes in the fall, and the Army Corps will plant dune grass sometime between November and April.
The entire replenishment project from Barnegat Inlet to Little Egg Inlet, which Councilman Don Kakstis noted totaled $138 million, is being covered 100 percent through the federal government. Taxpayers would normally be required to fund 10 percent of the borough’s replenishment. According to the contract, the execution of which council approved at the meeting, the town will be required to pay 25 percent of future maintenance work.
In other meeting news, Crane said this season’s beach badge sales have been “pretty much what we would expect.” As of July 7, sales totaled $343,545. Seasonal badge sales are about $2,000 ahead of last year. The overall total, however, is a bit lower than last year, which included $17,200 in 125th anniversary badge sales.
The lifeguards “have been quite busy this season,” Crane added. As of July 10, the beach patrol had responded to 42 rescues, five EMS activation on-beach incidents and 23 EMS first responder incidents as well as an additional 116 first aid calls.
“We have a very good group of young ladies and gentlemen. We’re happy to have them performing that service for us,” said Crane.
On another topic, he announced that the town will be accepting re-bids for the construction of the new municipal building, on Aug. 9, at 1 p.m. All interested bidders are invited to a pre-bid meeting at the emergency operations center on July 29, at 10 a.m.
Local resident Bill Green said he is concerned about the appearance of the EOC, the old Coast Guard station on the bay that is being utilized as the temporary municipal building. He said the building is an eyesore due to rotting wood and a poor paint job. He noted the property has gotten worse since people have been parking on the lawn, which is wearing away the grass.
Council members agreed the building is “ugly,” but said they don’t want to put additional money into the property until a long-term plan is secured. As of now, the building can be used only for emergency management. Town officials are looking into acquiring full ownership of the property so it can be used for other purposes. Taggart Davis said the council is expected to speak with representatives from Congressman Frank LoBiondo’s office later this month about possible plans.
Green’s wife, Susan, approached council about implementing signage on Bay Avenue to alert drivers and pedestrians about the laws governing street crossing, since there’s a lot of dangerous confusion. Council members liked the idea and agreed to execute safety measures.
According to state law, pedestrians have the right  of way in crosswalks where there are no traffic lights, but they must obey the traffic signals at the lights. The law requires bicyclists to follow all traffic rules. Pedestrians should walk against traffic, and bikes should ride with traffic.
The borough will be hosting a 10-day, online auction for old borough streets signs on July 28.
“I just think it’s kind of exciting. Somebody might really want the street sign of their house that they can actually hang up in a room,” the mayor said, adding that residents should sign up for email blasts for more borough news.
Potty issues were a concern for a couple of residents at the meeting who have had problems with people relieving themselves outside in public places, including at a vacant property on Dock Road as well as in front of the borough’s restroom trailer on Amber Street, which is normally locked during the evenings. Council members encouraged people to contact the police when incidents occur so the issues can be documented and addressed.
“That gives it more of a status as a nuisance, and it gives us more teeth to do something,” Taggart Davis said. “If they don’t have a record that somebody called, then it’s like it never happened.”
Resident Ed Sythe inquired about having his water meter moved from the sidewalk to his front lawn because people have been tripping on it when it pops up during high tides. Taggart Davis said “it was a mistake” to have the meters placed in the sidewalk since there have been other, related incidents. She said officials would look into having the matter rectified.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Shack, offering fresh fare, opens next to The Bagel Shack in Beach Haven

Photo by Jack Reynolds
The Shack co-owners, Ken and Laura Muha,

thank Frank Almodovar, one of their five local
investors, for helping them open the eatery.
The owners of The Bagel Shack in Beach Haven have opened a new restaurant offering fresh fare from sandwiches and salads to flounder français and rib-eye steak. The Shack, located next door to the bagel shop on North Bay Avenue, opened for lunch and dinner just a few weeks ago and already “people are loving the food,” said Ken Muha, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Laura, and their ex brother-in-law James Brennan.
So far, some of the most popular menu items at the casual, rustic, beach-themed restaurant have been the broiled crab cakes topped with dijon mustard aoili, which have “rave reviews,” as well as the acai bowls made with organic sambazon acai, organic granola, honey and bee pollen along with fruits and juices.
“They’ve just gone off the charts. I can’t keep them in here,” said Muha, noting that he uses the real acai bowl recipe from Hawaii.
The restaurant’s full, sit-down menu also includes fresh fish caught daily, which Muha suggests ordering early since he sometimes runs out. Of course, there are plenty of other tasty food items to choose from, including appetizers, soups, burgers, tacos, burritos, specialty pizzas and pasta dinners.
Late-night fare such as sausage and peppers, meatballs and other “greasy foods” is also available at the front window on weekends.
Patrons can sit at the outdoor front counter, and will eventually be able to eat outdoors in the back of the restaurant.
“We have so many things we got to do, but The Bagel Shack is having a record year. So we’re very busy,” said Muha, who has owned the bagel shop for the past four of its 32 years in existence.
Desserts such as traditional ice cream and waffles along with tin roof sundaes with homemade ice cream from The WooHoo should be available soon.
Wine through Working Dog Vineyard is expected to be available at some point as well. The restaurant is BYOB.
Early bird specials as well as breakfast may be offered “down the road,” said Muha.
“Whether you’re 2 years old or 102 years old, we’re going to have something for you,” he stated. “You can come in your flip-flops or you can get dressed up. You don’t have to dress well to eat well. It’s just about Beach Haven, the community.”
Only local artwork is featured inside the restaurant. Some items by Beach Haven resident Jessie Temple, who owns Bunkerfish, are currently on display. Although the owners said the name of the restaurant is a play off The Bagel Shack and does not reference the former Causeway Shack, a picture of LBI’s beloved welcoming symbol captured by local photographer-hobbyist Frank Giardina will find a place at the restaurant, too.
While the owners hope to keep the restaurant open year ’round like The Bagel Shack, which closes only on Christmas, Muha said “whether that’s achievable or not is yet to be determined.”
Muha, who’s also a member of the Beach Haven Land Use Board, said he normally votes in favor of people opening new restaurants.
“We believe in Beach Haven. The more people that come down here and see what Beach Haven has to offer, the higher probability this (restaurant) will work year ’round,” he said, noting residents and visitors don’t normally eat at just one restaurant. “I believe and I practice the more the better. Give people a reason to come down.”
“That will help all of the businesses in the area,” added Laura Muha. “The more the merrier, we feel.”
The Shack is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Late-night fare at the front window is available Thursday through Saturday, from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. House accounts are available. For more information, visit or call 609-342-1221.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Woman medevaced out of Beach Haven after losing consciousness in the ocean

Photo via BHBP
The Beach Haven Beach Patrol
rescued the woman from the surf.
A 50-year-old female swimming in the ocean in Beach Haven Sunday afternoon had to be medevaced to the hospital after she was knocked down by a wave while waving to family members on the shore. The woman was pulled from the surf by lifeguards at the Centre Street beach just after 2 p.m.
“She actually lost consciousness in the water, she hit her head so hard,” said Beach Haven Police Sgt. Tom Medel. “She must have banged her head underwater and jammed her neck pretty good.”
Medel said he was told the woman had no feeling in her extremities when she was rescued from the water but began to regain sensation by the time she was transported to Walsh Field by the Beach Haven First Aid Squad. She was flown out to the Trauma Center at the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City. The Beach Haven Volunteer Fire Co. responded to the field to set up the landing zone.
The Beach Haven Beach Patrol responded to three other water-related incidents on Sunday due to a bad shore break.
“Two kids were picked up by the waves and bounced pretty good, and another kid got scratched up a little bit, but other than that he was OK,” said Medel, who noted an offshore storm had made the water a bit choppier that day.
Medel stressed that swimmers need to pay attention to the waves since the surf conditions have changed since recent beach replenishment.
“Thankfully we have great lifeguards. Most of our lifeguards are EMTs, so that helps tremendously,” he stated. “I really can’t say enough about them. They do a fantastic job.”
Medel said Mike Lawrence, BHBP chief, makes sure the lifeguards maintain their proficiency through a daily training regimen that includes a 45-minute to an hour workout in the morning, including running and swimming on the beach, as well as intermittent skill evaluations.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.