Friday, April 29, 2016

Second eastbound lane to open tonight on Causeway Bridge

Photo by Ryan Morrill
Westbound traffic backs up at the intersection of
Central Avenue and West Eighth Street in Ship Bottom.
The area isn’t yet populated with summer vacationers, but heavy traffic delays on the Route 72 Causeway Bridge are making it feel that way. The congestion has been a problem since eastbound traffic was shifted to one lane on the new bridge last Friday, April 22. But the issue could clear up once the second eastbound lane opens later today, Friday, April 29, around 11 p.m.
“While we can’t say for certain the exact cause of current traffic delays, rubbernecking is often a problem in situations like this when drivers slow to look at the ongoing work,” Kevin Isreal, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said.
Westbound traffic on the existing bridge, which is also experiencing bumper-to-bumper delays, will be shifted to the new bridge later next week, Israel noted. One lane will be opened initially, and the second lane will open the following week.
“Full summer traffic patterns will be resumed with two lanes of traffic in both directions on the new bridge by Memorial Day,” Israel stated.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rate up half a penny for Beach Haven School’s proposed budget

Photo by Ryan Morrill
New initiatives this year include building
and maintenance projects.
A public hearing for Beach Haven School’s proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year will be held at the school on Monday, April 25, at 6 p.m., before the regularly scheduled board meeting. The $2,221,649 total projected budget is an increase of $254,903 from last year’s adopted plan, according to Brian Falkowski, the school’s business administrator.
The amount to be raised by taxation is $1,811,354, which is an increase of $111,637 over the previous year, Falkowski stated. The anticipated local tax rate per $100 of assessed property value is 10.7551 cents. It is an estimated increase of half of one penny from the 2015-16 budget, he noted. The elementary school district annual tax for a home assessed at $700,000 would be $752.857, or $62.738 a month.
School Choice Aid decreased from $164,983 last year to $139,601, Falkowski noted.
New initiatives affecting this year’s budget include $125,000 for building and maintenance projects, he added. 
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Surf City wants inaccessible beaches at 20th and 21st streets fixed soon

Photo by Ryan Morrill
The beach entrance at 21st Street is
blocked off to keep people from falling.
Because many of Surf City’s dunes were greatly damaged by Winter Storm Jonas in late January, local officials had hoped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would take care of the repairs and foot the bill. But assistance through the Federal Control and Coastal Emergency Act won’t be available until sometime next year, borough Councilman Peter Hartney stated at the council’s regular meeting on Wednesday, April 13.
The steep dune drop-offs at 20th and 21st streets, however, need to be repaired quickly so the public can safely use the area.
“You’ve got a 12-foot drop there. You’d fall and go boom,” Hartney said.
If the town wants to make the area accessible at this time, the Army Corps has said it’s Surf City’s responsibility to pay for it, the councilman stated.
The town is in the process of applying for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has offered reimbursement through its Public Assistance grant program to state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of eligible public facilities damaged by Jonas. But Hartney expects the town will have to pay for the work itself.
“When we’ve made those applications in the past, FEMA says, ‘You’re not the party responsible for it. It’s the Army Corps of Engineers’ and they already have money for it, so we’re not going to cover you under the disaster act,’” the councilman stated. “It becomes a kind of conundrum.”
Town officials are looking to have the repairs completed by Ocean County through its shared services agreement in the near future.
“We have to kind of wait until mid-May to do the work because the winds need to turn around, and we have to watch how much sand comes back in and how the beach moves in terms of the physics of it,” Hartney explained.
Because the drop-offs are so steep and there’s no sandbar off the beach, the councilman expects the repairs will require extensive labor.
“There’s a big hole there,” Hartney said. “At high tide, the tide comes right up to the dune. So there’s no sand to push to make it accessible. It’s so high that you wouldn’t push off enough sand to do it anyway. So you have to bring in sand and cut the dune down and do a lot more work to it.”
The town had to fund similar repairs to another section of the beach following the nor’easter in 2009 that was later rebuilt by the Army Corps.
Hartney hopes to have 20th and 21st streets included in the town’s remaining replenishment project that’s anticipated to start after North Beach’s eminent domain proceedings. But the DEP has not yet given the town a definitive answer, he said.
“If they just did the replenishment from where the project ended the last time, north of 22nd Street, they would leave that damaged dune from 22nd Street south untouched,” Hartney said. “They would be putting a new beach next to a damaged beach, so I’ve asked them if they’re going integrate that beach into the project.”
In other meeting news, Mayor Francis Hodgson said he had been told by Sen. Cory Booker’s office that there may be some federal money available for dredging Barnegat Bay. Hodgson had sent a letter to federal, state, county and local officials about the matter when residents expressed concern about excessive flooding from Jonas.
“We’re going to follow it through and see what happens. It might help,” the mayor stated, adding that the dredging ban was lifted for Atlantic and Cape May counties. “It seems like they’re sitting up and paying attention, so I imagine they’re having this problem up the whole coast from storm Sandy. Everybody’s complaining about the tides.”
In reference to the proposed sale of the Long Beach Island Grade School, Hodgson said the title would be transferred to Ship Bottom for $9 million, and the cost would be split with the school’s other four sending municipalities.
“For our share, that means we’ll just pay the tax. We don’t get anything for it,” Hodgson stated.
The transfer would require a bond referendum for the remaining funds needed to enlarge and modify the Ethel A. Jacobsen School in Surf City, to accommodate the district’s entire student body.
The town is receiving $325,000 from the state Department of Transportation’s Fiscal Year 2016 Municipal Aid Program for work on Barnegat Avenue. The competitive program received 641 applications, Councilwoman Jackie Siciliano said.
Council members authorized a resolution for a $1,031.37 change order for a reduction in the original contract for repairs to the Department of Public Works roof, which were recently completed.
Council also passed a resolution for repairs to water well 7 for approximately $11,643.
A request by a couple on Eighth Street to move their home into the west side shoulder of Barnegat Avenue this fall for the installation of pilings was approved as well.
Ordinance amendments for zoning filing fees and boat ramp and parking lot fees, as well to disallow the obstruction of a water meter pit, water turn-on/turn-off pit and/or any connecting lines and pipes were all passed on first reading.
Councilman William Hodgson reminded the public that dogs are allowed on the beach only until the end of the month. Seasonal beach badges will be on sale for $25 beginning April 27 and can be purchased at borough hall seven days a week.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Traffic to be shifted to new Causeway Bridge this weekend

Some traffic to Long Beach Island will be shifted to the newly constructed Causeway Bridge this weekend as construction progresses on the $350 million project, the state Department of Transportation announced Friday.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Crews work to accommodate traffic
pattern changes on the bridges.
Eastbound traffic on the Route 72 Bridge was expected to be shifted to the newly constructed bridge Friday. Traffic heading westbound was planned to be reduced to one lane on the existing bridge. This work was delayed from last week due to weather and altered to permit uniform openings on the multiple contracts throughout the project.
Next week, the DOT expects to move all traffic to the new bridge with two lanes running in each direction as crews work to restore traffic patterns to their summer alignment. This shift will permit work to be done on the existing bridge, which will be closed to traffic. Upon completion of the rehabilitation work, that bridge will accommodate westbound traffic.
Summer traffic patterns are expected to be fully restored by mid-May.
Work on the $350 million Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project was started in 2013 and is expected to continue through 2020. The 3-mile-long Causeway links Stafford Township on the mainland with Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island, but is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete after 57 years in existence.
The new bridge, at 2,400 feet long with a vertical clearance of 55 feet over Manahawkin Bay, will ultimately function as the bridge for eastbound traffic when the project is finished.
The DOT plans to maintain two travel lanes in each direction during busy summer seasons, from mid-May to mid-September, throughout daytime hours and weekends, officials stated. The contractor is allowed single-lane closures overnight and during the off-season, but one lane will always be maintained in each direction.
The new bridge parallel to the existing one over Manahawkin Bay will provide another route on or off the Island in the event that one of the bridges needs to be closed. This design is consistent with Christie administration objectives to build in strength or redundancy to better withstand future storms, the DOT noted.
The existing Causeway sustained relatively minor damage during Superstorm Sandy, but future storm damage is a concern because it provides the only way for motor vehicles to get on and off Long Beach Island. 
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Beach Haven residents urge fix-up for ‘deteriorating’ Dock Road properties

Photo via The Southern Ocean Times
Some people think the town needs to take
action against abandoned properties,
especially on Dock Road.
Beach Haven resident Mary Ann Hovan knows she’ll probably have to pay more taxes since the town’s newly adopted $11.5 million budget includes a tax rate increase of 2.5 cents over last year. But she doesn’t think that’s fair since her Dock Road home has been surrounded by abandoned properties that are falling apart and have been overgrown with weeds for quite some time.
“I’ve picked up a whole bunch of Styrofoam in between the houses,” she told officials during the town council’s regular meeting on Monday, April 11. “I don’t belong on that property. I’ve commented about this before. I’m trespassing, but I can’t live like this anymore.”
Hovan said that while many residents and business owners have been concerned about the expansion of The Ketch’s liquor license to The Boathouse across the street and the proposed bridge connecting the two establishments on Dock Road, which the council recently rejected, the area continues to look rundown.
“Don’t you see that block, how it’s deteriorating?” she asked council members. “We have a lot of foot traffic there. You have people going to these restaurants. They see this. I can’t understand how this can be allowed going into our fourth year after (Superstorm) Sandy. Nothing’s gotten done. Four years, that’s a lot of time.”
The Dock Road resident added that she’s upset that the Black Whale Bar & Fish House, which ironically is her best neighbor, is moving.
“I just think it’s about time that somebody does something,” Hovan stated.
William Burris, owner of the Black Whale who has been working on concepts for the maritime district, agreed that the area is in poor shape.
“I don’t know why we’re putting this off,” he said. “It’s things that should be done. We want to do our part. We want to do the right thing.”
Council members said they will have the code enforcement officer, which position they approved by resolution during the meeting for the purpose of implementing the abandoned/vacant property ordinance adopted in February, over to Hovan’s house within a week or two.
“That’s one of the first things we should do,” said Councilman Don Kakstis.
Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis also suggested officials enforce the town’s blight ordinance to deal with the overgrowth. But Hovan said the cuttings aren’t picked up and then begin to build up.
The mayor noted that it has been difficult to rectify abandoned-property issues without the new ordinance, which took a long time to get approved. She said council also did not want the ordinance to penalize the people who have had issues with unethical contractors that came into town after Sandy.
“But we are concerned, and we do have a meeting scheduled this week to discuss this. So things should move forward,” Taggart Davis stated.
Council members have also decided to set up a meeting with the master plan committee to discuss ideas on how to spruce up the town’s parks.
In reference to last year’s Taylor Avenue Ball Field rehabilitation project, which was abandoned last year when the bids received came in at nearly $300,000 and it got too close to Hop Sauce Festival to do in-house, resident Jeff Wells, who is a member of the master plan committee, suggested leasing the park to a local nonprofit group to avoid the high cost of prevailing wage. He also suggested using the $150,000 earmarked for the renovation as well as other raised funds to fix up Veterans Memorial Park.
Regarding beach replenishment, Borough Manager Richard Crane said the town is on standby. He noted the ocean wave height needs to go below 4 feet before Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. can begin the effort.
“The wave height is actually a little too high for them to work safely,” Crane stated. “They’re waiting for any time, for a window of opportunity, to start it. Everybody’s ready to go.”
The current weather conditions are expected to continue to be subpar for the foreseeable future, he noted. When ready, the project will start at both ends of the borough, at Nelson Avenue and 12th Street.
In other meeting news, council adopted an ordinance to repeal a water relief ordinance for property owners seeking a one-time billing adjustment due to unusually high water charges. From the time the relief ordinance was originally adopted in December until its current cancellation, 36 property owners sent in applications resulting in a total of $36,960 in forgiveness.
Crane encouraged residents to take advantage instead of the water usage monitoring system the town has implemented, particularly during the summer months when utilizing sprinkler systems.
Council members also adopted a 3.5 percent cap bank amounting to $282,761 for the new municipal budget adopted that night. The 2016 salary ordinance was passed on reintroduction.
An ordinance to implement a $2 daily pass and a $40 season pass for the borough’s pickleball courts was approved on first reading. This will decrease liability for the town as well as the players, Taggart Davis said.
Ordinance amendments to regulate the use of dune walkovers, to permit and regulate sandwich sign boards as well as to ban smoking on the beach and in any park area or borough-owned property were also approved on introduction.
Taggart Davis said Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the smoking ban at the state level, but the town still wanted the regulation in place.
Resident Michael Peler said he was glad the ban includes all smoking, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
“We sure hope no one’s smoking crack,” he stated.
Peler also expressed concern about how the town was going to respond to some other environmental issues, including plastic bags and balloons, people attempting to photograph wildlife selfies, as well as climate change. Kakstis suggested Peler get involved with the borough’s Green Team.
“It’s one thing to state what needs to be done. It’s another thing to help make it happen,” Kakstis said.
Taggart Davis, who said she would love to see a ban on plastic bags, noted that change happens at the local level, though it is often a slow process.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ketch owner suing Beach Haven for allegedly breaching nondiscrimination agreement

Photo by Ryan Morrill
Michael Battista believes the borough favors the
town's other restaurants, including The Boathouse.
The Ketch owner Michael Battista is suing Beach Haven borough for allegedly violating due process and infringing on his property rights after the town council denied his request for a place-to-place transfer of the restaurant’s liquor license to The Boathouse across the street. The civil suit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey last week.
According to the formal complaint issued by Battista’s attorney, Arnold C. Lakind, the council’s ruling breaches a nondiscrimination agreement between Battista and the borough that was instituted when Battista sued the town in 1997 for a pattern of bias against The Ketch and The Marlin, which he also owns and operates, in favor of other local establishments.
The complaint notes that council members canvassed competing business owners, who said they were uncomfortable with the expansion of The Ketch’s liquor license to The Boathouse. However, the complaint claims no such canvassing has occurred when considering other ABC applications.
According to the complaint, the council’s ruling also discriminated against The Ketch when the members simultaneously drafted a resolution to allow The Boathouse to unlawfully expand by selling and serving alcohol by way of up to 20 caterer’s permits using The Baldwin Grille’s plenary retail consumption license, even though the Ship Bottom facility, which does business as The Stateroom, does not cater the events at The Boathouse.
Other non-licensed premises in Beach Haven, such as the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club, which sells and serves liquor without a required club license, the complaint states, also do not adhere to the ABC Law and regulations as well as other federal, state and local laws.
Another example of favoritism outlined in the complaint includes the decision by the land use board, which Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis and Councilman Don Kakstis are members of, to approve an enlargement of The Ketch’s outside deck only if the place-to-place transfer were granted.
Since council adopted a denial resolution that had been written prior to voting at the Feb. 17 meeting, the members were required by law to give the applicant at least five days’ notice as well as an opportunity to be heard. The suit claims that Battista and his partners, however, were not made aware of the council’s intent to deny the application.
If the place-to-place transfer had been approved, it would have allowed The Ketch and The Boathouse to operate as one full-time entity. Developer William Burris had intended to purchase both locations this coming November. He does not plan to buy The Ketch unless the ruling is overturned, but he will be buying The Boathouse and turning it into the new Black Whale Bar & Fish House, which will be run by his partners, the local Nugent and Magaziner families. The Black Whale’s current building will be torn down.
Denying the expansion of The Ketch’s liquor license to the adjacent Boathouse restaurant, which is allowed by law, has caused inverse condemnation of Battista’s property, the complaint states. By suing the town, he is seeking approval for the expansion of the liquor license as well as compensatory and punitive damages, interest, costs of suit, attorney’s fees and any other relief the court finds just.
Last month, Battista appealed the council’s ruling by filing a formal request with the state Department of Law and Public Safety’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. A resolution has not yet been determined.
Neither Battista nor Lakind could be reached for comment by press time. Taggart Davis said she could not comment on the pending litigation.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bayside Carpet Cleaning gets down to the nitty-gritty of the job

Having flooring and furniture thoroughly sanitized before the start of the busy summer season brings many visitors is a great way to revive a home or workplace after a long winter shuttered indoors. Bayside Carpet Cleaning offers a wide variety of professional services from carpet, upholstery, area rug and mattress cleaning to tile and grout and stone cleaning and pet stain or odor remedies.
Photo via Facebook
The company is committed to showing up on time.
The local, family-owned and -operated company has been in the cleaning business since 2005 and claims one of the best reputations around. The region’s most experienced floor covering experts, interior designers and Realtors refer Bayside’s services exclusively, said owner Cayce Schied, who is certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification as well as for stone, tile and grout cleaning and care.
“Unfortunately the cleaning industry is filled with uneducated, uninformed and sometimes downright unscrupulous companies. Our reputation ensures that you can trust our company to provide the most outstanding service experience ever,” he stated.
The company is recognized for being able to resolve cleaning-related issues that no other professionals can tackle. Bayside’s experts are educated in all types of fibers and soiling conditions, no matter how uncommon they may be.
The equipment a cleaning company utilizes is incredibly important as well, Schied said. Bayside uses only the best quality, most advanced, state-of-the-art equipment on the market.
“The system we use will get maximum soil removal and maximum spot removal without overwetting your floor or fabric and without leaving a sticky residue,” he assured.
Bayside refuses to use discount products because those can damage floors and fabrics. The cleaning agents the company utilizes are safe for the whole family as well as the environment, both indoors and outdoors. The company also offers soap-free, organic cleaning products.
Schied does not recommend choosing a cleaning firm based on price alone since a low-priced service could cost more in the long run due to damage to textiles and flooring.
“It’s impossible for a company to provide the most outstanding service experience if they can’t afford to invest in the best education and equipment,” he stated.
If customers are not completely satisfied with Bayside’s services, the experts will return to the location for no additional charge, or they will offer a full refund.
The leading carpet manufacturers, such as Shaw Industries, recommend a hot water extraction, or steam cleaning, every 12 to 18 months. But depending on the number of people and pets and the amount of activity in the household or business, some clients hire Bayside experts every six months.
The company is committed to showing up on time and communicating with its customers throughout the entire service experience. Staff will arrive in uniform in a professionally lettered vehicle. Phone call and text message reminders will be provided.
An average whole-house cleaning, depending on soil content, carpet type, number of spots and the size of the area to be cleaned, will normally take one to three hours. While homeowners and business owners are welcome to stay during the process, they do not have to be there as long as staff has access to the cleaning vicinity. Pets need to be kept in a safe, quiet place where the cleaning will not disturb them.
To make sure everything goes smoothly, customers should remove any small items such as dining room chairs, magazine racks and floor plants from any areas that are going to be cleaned. All breakable items from furniture, which will have to be temporarily moved, cleaned under and placed back, should also be removed. Full-length draperies need to be pinned up at least 6 inches off the floor as well as any skirts on upholstered furniture that may be touching the carpet.
Computer equipment, china cabinets, sectional sofas, entertainment centers, antique and fragile furniture cannot be moved. But carpet underneath these items or along the edge of the base can be cleaned where sufficient room is available. During the pre-inspection walk-through, clients should advise the technician of any special requirements to follow when moving furniture such as weak legs, loose tops or previous repairs. Any spots or stains that may require special techniques should be pointed out.
To obtain a free quote or find information on specials, visit or call 609-290-2691.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, April 11, 2016

More people turning to acupuncture to help their pets heal

Photo by Jack Reynolds
Skye-Dog relaxes as Dr. Catherine
Dreskin performs acupuncture on her.
A couple years after Nora Devin of Manahawkin adopted Skye-Dog, she noticed the black-and-white Cardigan Welsh corgi was exhibiting tremors and having trouble walking. Although Devin suspected the canine was suffering from degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disorder that had caused her former corgi’s back legs to become paralyzed even after he received steroid treatment, she said her vet simply wanted to monitor Skye-Dog. That’s when she started taking the pooch to Dr. Catherine Dreskin of Ocean Acres Veterinary Office for acupuncture.
“From a pet-parent standpoint, I’m seeing a profound difference in what she can do,” Devin said of Skye-Dog, who has been receiving acupuncture for the past 1½ years after being diagnosed with DM. “I know the deal because I had a dog who had this before. I vowed never to do steroid treatment on a dog again because his face became distorted. It was awful. The other things that happen with steroid therapy are not worth it for me personally. So I was so relieved to find a vet for Skye who actually genuinely listened to what I had to say and didn’t just dismiss me.”
When she first came to Dreskin, Skye-Dog couldn’t climb up the stairs. Now the 9-year-old “zooms” up the steps and can walk a half a mile at the park, said Devin.
“What it’s done is just make her healthier and stronger regardless of what’s wrong. When I bring her home later, she’ll just be like la, la, la, and she’ll generally tremor less because of it.”
Photo by Jack Reynolds
A dog acupuncture chart shows
some of the common points.
As more people become aware of the health benefits of acupuncture, many are seeking out the treatment for their beloved pets. The practice on animals is an adaptation of the traditional Chinese medicine that has been used to treat humans for thousands of years. Recent scientific evidence has proven acupuncture works by creating biological and chemical changes in the body.
Only veterinarians and their employees are qualified to perform any procedures on animals that offer a treatment or cure.
“You can treat your own pet, but other than that you have to be a licensed veterinarian. So people that are not veterinarians or are not employed by veterinarians should not be performing acupuncture, chiropracture or any other procedure,” said Richard Alampi, executive director of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association.
To be able to perform the modality on patients, Dreskin underwent training at the Chi Institute in Florida before she opened her local veterinary business 2½ years ago. Although she admits she was a bit uncertain about acupuncture at first, she said she really wanted to be able to help animals that have neurological conditions, which affect the brain or spinal cord, for which there are no modern medicine treatments.
“When you’re trained in medicine and you go to vet school, and I’m sure when you go to medical school, you have a certain mindset and you have a certain way of thinking,” Dreskin said. “When you think about something like this, it’s more esoteric. So even when I went to the Chi Institute, I was skeptical in my own mind. I wanted to believe it, but I had skeptical thoughts. Then I started doing it, and I was like ‘Wow, this really does work.’ I was truly amazed myself.”
While modern medicine focuses more on drugs to treat symptoms, Chinese medicine centers more on the entire body. Acupuncture stimulates points along the body’s nervous tracks called meridians. It’s thought to move energy, known as qi, which keeps the body from disease.
Dreskin also uses acupuncture to help animals suffering from arthritis or other painful conditions that can’t be alleviated with drugs.
“Really, acupuncture can be used to help most any health condition. I use modern medicine for a lot of things, and then I integrate that with this type of medicine,” Dreskin said. “The really good thing about acupuncture is, unlike modern medicine, there are no side effects. It can do no harm. If it works, great. If it doesn’t work for all animals, at least I tried and I did no harm in trying. All drugs have some kind of side effect.”
The first dog Dreskin ever treated with acupuncture had been to multiple veterinarians, was on various medications and couldn’t even stand. After performing three acupuncture treatments, the dog was able to start walking, Dreskin said.
Depending on the disease process, pets usually need at least four to five acupuncture treatments before any benefits are noticed. While most animals become relaxed enough to fall asleep during the procedure, Dreskin said some of the points elicit a response called deqi.
“It’s better to get a response because that tells us it’s working,” she stated.
Dreskin recently completed advanced training. She said more and more people are bringing their dogs or cats to her for acupuncture as well as herbal supplements, which she also provides.
Skye-Dog is seen every other week for acupuncture and takes daily herbal supplements, but she also receives vaccinations and other conventional treatments when necessary.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.