Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Surf City Mayor against Long Beach Island School Board’s decision to sell LBI Grade School

Photo by Ryan Morrill
 Surf City Mayor Francis Hodgson answers
questions from taxpayers at borough hall.
The town came out to welcome new Surf City Mayor Francis Hodgson at the taxpayers association’s annual meeting at borough hall this past Saturday, June 25. It was the first time in 50 years that a new mayor gave an inaugural address, after former long-time mayor Leonard T. Connors stepped down last year.
With the town boasting one of the area’s lowest tax rates, $3.5 million in surplus and no municipal bonded indebtedness, Hodgson said he’s following in Connors’ footsteps as a thrifty mayor.
“I’m a Depression baby. I don’t like to spend money,” Hodgson stated. “Our duty is to supply the best possible service for the lowest possible dollar. I’m all about dollars and cents.”
A hot topic of discussion was the consolidation of the Ethel A. Jacobsen School in Surf City and the LBI Grade School in Ship Bottom. Hodgson said he disapproves of the school board’s plan to sell the grade school.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
William Hodgson and Jackie Siciliano,
members of the town council,
listen from the hallway.
Ship Bottom borough wants to purchase the grade school property and keep it safe from development. The town has offered to pay $4 million of the $9 million asking price. The remaining $5 million would need to be paid for by the district’s four other sending municipalities – Barnegat Light, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township and Surf City. The transfer of the grade school to Ship Bottom would necessitate a bond referendum among the municipalities for the remaining funds, which would be used to expand and modify the E.J. School to accommodate the district’s entire student body.
Hodgson expressed some skepticism, noting, “Nothing ever comes in at the price they bid it.
“It’s a bad business practice,” he said. “Everyone knows that when the government gets involved with building or any construction, it always runs over. So in addition to what it’s going to cost the towns, it’s going to cost them more money to build (onto the E.J.) School. It’s going to cost over and above what the school tax is now. I think if we got rid of the School Choice students we wouldn’t have that problem.”
According to the school board, Hodgson said, there are currently 178 students from the Long Beach Island School District and 43 School Choice students. Next year’s student enrollment is expected to drop by 25 students. While the school district receives about $13,000 from the state per Choice student, it costs roughly $25,000 to educate each child, he noted.
“I don’t know how we’re gaining money when it’s costing us $12,000 a (Choice) student,” said Hodgson. “As far as the local kids, God bless them. Let them get the best education they can. We don’t need to bring kids in that run a lot of costs. It’s a waste of money.”
The mayor said he believes the schools can house all of the students, especially considering the continuous decrease in enrollment, which he said is due to the fact that young families cannot afford to live on the Island anymore. He noted that the student to teacher ratio is currently 7-to-1.
“I am for the people deciding whether or not they want to spend the money. It’s up to them; it’s not up to me,” he said. “Me, personally, I’m against it. I’m for the people voting, but I’m against Surf City chipping in to buy the land for Ship Bottom. If Ship Bottom wants to buy it, fine, let them buy it. My position hasn’t changed. It’s been the same.
“If the people of Surf City decide they want to chip in and pay for the shortfall that Ship Bottom doesn’t come up with, then who am I? The voters speak. That’s the way personally I feel as mayor. I’ve got to look out for the people of the town,” he stated.
Hodgson has suggested making some repairs to each of the schools to keep them open and then revisiting the plan in a few years.
Throughout the meeting, Hodgson answered many other questions from the audience that ranged from beach badge checkers, lifeguards and dune replenishment to taxes, outdoor restaurant seating and town-wide yard sales, among other local issues.
Hodgson, a borough councilman for 46 years, served as president for most of that time. He also handled revenue and finance and sanitation. Prior to that, he served on the board of health for four years.
Along with his family, Hodgson also owns and operates Hodgson Construction, Sandbar Mini Golf and numerous rental properties as well as Island Realty.
In other meeting news, this was association member Ron Pergondo’s last meeting as president. Pete Williams, who is taking over the role, thanked Pergondo for his three years of service by recounting the time the former president stepped up and “acted as coach” when the position needed to be filled.
“When he stepped up and said he would be president, he had both his feet on the ground. And the whole time he was president, he’s had both of his feet on the ground,” Williams said, jokingly referring to him as the mayor.
Williams said one of the association’s main objectives this year is to increase membership. He encouraged residents to join and spread the word.
He also noted the association has teamed up with the police department as well as the Island’s realtors regarding pedestrian and bicycle safety.
The association will host its first informational meeting with local business owners at the firehouse at the end of August.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Stockton University, New Jersey Maritime Museum officials discuss possible alliance

Photo by Marjorie Amon
Officials talk over the possibility of the school
getting involved with the local facility. 
Former Beach Haven Mayor Deborah Whitcraft and Jim Vogel, who are both founders of the New Jersey Maritime Museum, met with officials from Stockton University on Wednesday, June 22, to discuss potential plans about the future of the museum.
In attendance were Assistant Provost Michelle Craig McDonald and Peter Straub, dean of the School of Natural Sciences, along with other Stockton officials from its Marine Sciences School as well as current Beach Haven Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis, who is a former dean of Stockton’s School of Health Sciences. The group discussed the details of a proposed alliance, which is expected to enhance Beach Haven’s Maritime District.
Taggart Davis, who announced the possibility of Whitcraft and Vogel deeding the museum to the school during the borough council’s regular, monthly meeting on June 13, said Beach Haven is in full support of the goal.
“I thought this would be a great thing for the town if we could have this museum going into the future,” Taggart Davis, who recently retired from Stockton after 41 years there, stated at the council meeting. “Stockton has a very good marine biology program, and I’m hoping that they can get more involved in the work that we’re doing right here with ReClam the Bay. There’s a lot going on that’s very, very exciting in that respect.”
William Burris, a former museum trustee, stressed that Whitcraft and Vogel are not retiring.
“Stockton has shown a significant interest in our proposal to create an affiliation, which may simply provide for a succession plan to ensure the museum will always be there and maintained as a significant successful community treasure,” said Burris, who is involved with the planning. “Stockton has not yet decided to do this, although I am confident they will.”
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Two-day street sweeping in Surf City begins Wednesday

Photo via Google
Surf City's ocean blocks will be cleaned first.
Street sweeping for all of Surf City will be conducted by the county beginning Wednesday, June 29. The process will go from 10th Street south on Wednesday, then from 25th Street to 11th Street on Thursday. No cars should be parked in the street, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The original date for the north end of town was Tuesday, July 28, but it was postponed until Thursday due to inclement weather.
“The plan is to get it done in two days, east to west. They’re going to start at the ocean and go down to the bay and up and down the streets,” Pete Williams, president of the Surf City Taxpayer Association, announced at the organization’s annual meeting Saturday, June 22. “They usually do not do this, but they relented to do it,” he added, noting the mayor and borough council had worked very hard to have all the streets swept since Winterstorm Jonas kicked up debris in January.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Free summer concerts in Beach Haven held every Wednesday at Veterans Park

The Beach Haven Community Arts Program’s free summer Concerts on the Green series will take place every Wednesday through August, at 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Park, located at Beach Avenue between Engleside Avenue and Amber Street.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Local band Garage Kept performs at
Kubel's Too in Long Beach Township.
“The Beach Haven Community Arts Program is looking forward to another year of Concerts on the Green,” said Rob Meyer, program director at BHCAP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and presenting events and arts programs for the benefit of local residents and visitors. “We have a great lineup of musical performances, from opera and classical to classic rock. Please join us for an evening of music under the stars.”
The series will begin on June 29 with classic rock band Garage Kept. The Carnaby Street Band, which plays music of the British Invasion, will perform on July 6; and Jimmy and the Parrots, a Jimmy Buffett cover band, will play the following week on July 13. Classic rock band Jim Meck and the Guide Dogs will take the stage on July 20; Jersey Gold Band will perform 1950s and ’60s dance music on July 27; The Kootz will perform classic rock on Aug. 3; country music by Tequila Rose will take place on Aug. 10; and the McClean Avenue Band will perform Irish music on Aug. 17. Elaine and Friends will perform classical music, from opera to Broadway, on Aug. 26; and Garage Kept will perform again on Aug. 31 for the last show of the series.
Special kids’ concerts with Makin’ Music Rockin’ Rhythms will be held on Mondays, July 18 and Aug. 15, at 7 p.m.
Concert-goers may bring a chair or blanket.
For more information, call 609-492-4218 or email
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Route 72 Bridge shuttle service resumes this week

Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to cross the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge when the shuttle service resumes this week, officials from the New Jersey Department of Transportation announced June 27. During construction of the $350 million bridges project, the sidewalk that links the mainland to Long Beach Island will be closed to individuals wanting to bike or walk across the bridge.
To accommodate those wishing to go to LBI, the free shuttle bus will run from Morris Boulevard in Manahawkin with a stop in the eastbound direction at Third Street in Ship Bottom. The shuttle will then return in the westbound direction, stopping at the Dutchman’s Brauhaus restaurant on Cedar Bonnet Island and East Bay Avenue directly after the bridge crossing.
This temporary alternative will operate seven days a week while the sidewalk is closed, officials said.
The shuttle service, operated by the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association, was initially provided to pedestrians and bicyclists in November while the north sidewalk on the east and west thorofare bridges was closed for demolition and reconstruction. The service was canceled in February due to a decrease in ridership.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Three Crowns event planners believe ‘it’s all in the details’

After planning events for friends and family separately for many years, Beach Haven residents Kitty Snyder and Kate Devaney have combined their passion and expertise to form Three Crowns, a full-service planning, style, design and rental company. The women both raised their families on Long Beach Island, and have been friends for the past 15 years. They have an eclectic taste that allows them to create inspiring affairs from lavish beach or backyard weddings and parties to intimate bayside gatherings or charity events.
Photo by Ann Coen
Old church pews and vintage chairs complete the
scene at the Nugent and Mehl's farm wedding.
“Anyone we know who’s had a party in the last 30 years, we’ve helped. So we thought, ‘Let’s get paid for it like everyone else is doing,’” said Devaney. “It’s what we love to do, and at this stage of our lives we want to do something that we really love to do.”
Snyder, an instructional aide at Southern Regional Middle School in Stafford Township, is a former caterer. Devaney, who works as a nurse for AtlantiCare, was social chairwoman at the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club for five years.
The duo are huge collectors of things “that people don’t want,” so there’s lots of mixing and matching as well as repurposing. For instance, Devaney saved pieces of the original Surflight Theatre piano that she bought more than 20 years ago, which was damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
“It’s a piece of history. I didn’t want to get rid of it, so when we had to chop it up, I saved parts of it and made a candle holder out of it,” she said.
The women find many of their unique items during hunting expositions at different antiques stores and thrift stores. Most of their collections are kept at a storage unit on the mainland as well as at Devaney’s house.
“We have a ton of inventory. We have all the different pieces of furniture that fit in all genres. It just depends on the client and how we can fit that in,” she said.
Mismatched tables and upholstered chairs, old signage and vintage china and silverware are just some of the items they have collected to create one-of-a-kind events.
“You’d be surprised by what we can put together,” said Devaney, who noted the company handles every aspect of an event, from “soup to nuts.”
Photo via Three Crowns
A local resident's Malibu Barbie-themed
bridal shower is a big hit with guests.
“We love juxtaposition, something that will surprise you,” Snyder added. “When we do an event, we like to make sure that wherever you’re looking, your eye is going to catch on something that makes you go, ‘Oh my gosh, that looks awesome,’ or ‘Wow, that’s different.’”
The women believe little touches, such as a crystal chandelier in a deer stand or a velvet couch on the beach, can create an interesting twist that makes any occasion more intricate and inviting.
“We find one inspiration piece, and with the venue we just go from there,” said Devaney. “It’s all in the details; I think that’s what sets us apart. Our favorite saying is, ‘Sometimes less is more, and sometimes too much is just right.’”
“Everything just sort of evolves in layers,” Snyder added.
Beach Haven resident Jane Kleber’s Malibu Barbie-themed bridal shower at the LEHYC in May transpired from an idea the women got through a video on Show Me Your Mumu, a clothing company website.
“I honestly have no idea how I would be planning this wedding without them. They have the most amazing and unique ideas,” said Kleber. “I am not the best at making decisions, so I have allowed them to take the reins. However, they are very easy to work with, so they are great whether you need just some help with a party or full-on event planning. They have great ideas to make your party stand out, and they are so helpful in the planning process.”
Devaney noted a lot of brides know what they want but don’t know how to get from A to B.
“We can take them to C,” she said.
The creativity of the events often stems from their clients’ personal items, which help to make the occasions even more special.
“When we’re doing a party for someone, we especially love to see the things that they have that we can pull from and utilize and incorporate into the design of the table or the flower vessels, like family photos, to make it personal,” Devaney said. “People always want to use their family’s wedding photos, but how about photos of your grandparents when they were on the beach in Atlantic City? Those are fun and a little more interesting, and that’s what we try and come up with.”
For the Nugent and Mehl’s rustic-decor wedding at the local family’s farm in Pemberton this past October, which will be featured in New Jersey Bride, Snyder and Devaney included at the parents table the groom’s father’s horse trophies that he won as a kid, which they had found in the attic.
“It makes it a little more industrial along with the romantic, which we love,” said Snyder.
“He was really touched, I think,” Devaney added, noting the wedding was their “first gig out of the gate.”
To pull the events together, the women collaborate with other companies, from florists, caterers and mixologists to photographers, calligraphers and other artists. They also build a lot of their own displays and accessories, including photo walls. Their items can be loaned out as well.
“We prefer to plan, style, design, but we do offer pieces that are for rent,” said Devaney.
Although the women enjoy planning weddings, they would also like to do more parties.
“We love doing weddings, but there’s such a market down here for people that are having parties, and they’re not here all the time and it’s coming up and they have a caterer, but they want to make it a little different and unique,” Snyder said. “We know the area very well. Between the two of us, we kind of know everybody. We’re kind of a concierge. We’re very community oriented.”
For more information about the business, visit
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Shop locally at Surf City Farmers Market

For the second year in a row, residents and visitors interested in shopping locally will be able to check out some of the area’s garden-fresh produce and artisanal food and craft vendors at the Surf City Farmers Market. The event, which supports the Surf City Volunteer Fire Co. and EMS, will be held every Monday at the firehouse, located at 713 North Long Beach Blvd., starting June 27 through Aug. 29, from 8 a.m. to noon.
Photo via SCVFC
Locally grown produce will be plentiful.
The locale quickly became a “weekly gathering spot” for people to connect with friends and area businesses last year, Surf City EMT Jennifer Collins said, noting it was the first farmers market to be held on Long Beach Island.
“The fire department wanted to highlight local business and raise awareness for supporting small business on the Island and in the area,” she said. “It enables our first responders to meet the public and allows them to see us and ask questions in non-emergency situations. It allows us to give back and be a part of the community.”
Meet-and-greets will give attendees a chance to get to know the police officers, firefighters and rescue personnel. The Surf City Police Department will be hosting a Fill the Cruiser event to benefit the local food pantry, and will also provide child car seat checks.
The market is set to include some new vendors and nonprofits and additional farms as well as live music some weeks.
“I don’t think people necessarily realize the farming culture of this area, so by bringing it to the Island, hopefully people will become more educated in the area’s rich history and heritage,” Collins stated. “The fire company and EMS care about people’s health and well-being, so this is a great way to promote healthy eating and a healthier lifestyle.”
Surf City Farmers Market canvas tote bags, designed by local artist Keith Feldman and produced by NJ Logowear, will be available for purchase. All proceeds will benefit the fire company and EMS.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Woman dies after getting caught in a rip current at unguarded beach

Photo via Facebook
The victim had been on Long Beach Island
with her boyfriend for his sister's wedding.
A young woman who was caught in a rip current at an unguarded beach on Long Beach Island this weekend passed away at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia early on Sunday, June 19. The victim, 24-year-old Kristi Pisano of Port Chester, N.Y., had been in town with her boyfriend for his sister’s wedding.
“It was just a tragic, tragic accident,” said Al Della Fave, public affairs director at the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. “As much as people are given tips on getting caught in the rips, once you’re caught in a rip it’s very easy to panic.”
Pisano was staying with her boyfriend at the Mariner Inn in the Beach Haven Gardens section of Long Beach Township. Prior to the wedding Saturday afternoon, the couple, who Della Fave said hadn’t been dating long, decided to go for a swim near the 24th Street beach in the Spray Beach section of the township. According to eyewitness accounts, Pisano was knocked over by a wave and pulled under water. By the time her boyfriend realized she was in distress and was able to reach her and pull her out of the water, she had been submerged “a good amount of time,” said Della Fave.
“Though the boyfriend was an accomplished swimmer, he was not aware of her abilities,” Della Fave stated. “It’s a really tragic reminder of how dangerous a place the ocean can be.”
The Long Beach Township Police Department was first on the scene after receiving a call at 11:12 a.m. alerting it to a swimmer in distress.
Members of the Long Beach Township Beach Patrol responded from their base, at 68th Street in Brant Beach. On Saturday, the 68th Street beach was the only guarded beach in the township, as it had been, weekends only, since Memorial Day weekend. Sunday was the patrol’s first day fully staffing the beaches in the township.
According to the township police, Pisano was taken to Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, and then airlifted to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
The LBTBP reminds beachgoers to swim only on guarded beaches.
Della Fave said swimmers should tell whoever they’re with if their swimming “is not that up to speed” and also should “stay very close to other folks.”
“Look how quickly this took place. It was literally seconds,” he stated. “One minute she was fine, next minute she’s knocked over, next minute she’s under the water. It was a few minutes before he managed to locate her and get her out. When you’re swallowing saltwater and you’re underwater for a few minutes, it can easily result in death.”
Pisano was pronounced dead by hospital staff at 1:22 a.m. on Sunday. An autopsy will most likely rule the cause of death as asphyxiation by drowning, said Della Fave, who noted witness accounts confirmed there was nothing suspicious about the incident.
Also in the township on Saturday, three swimmers in distress off 105th Street in Beach Haven Park were rescued by off-duty LBTBP guards around 3:30 p.m. Two mobile units from the beach patrol base and a guard from 68th Street responded. The individuals were given oxygen and blankets and were transferred to the Beach Haven First Aid Squad.
Earlier this month, Watchung resident James Clarke, 55, died after assisting swimmers in distress off 46th Street in the Brant Beach section of the township, where he owned a home.
According to the township police department, a call came into dispatch at 4:41 p.m. on June 5 alerting the police to five people in the ocean off 46th Street, including three kids in distress. The caller remained on the phone, and subsequently informed dispatch that all five people had made it out of the water and were fine.
As per standard procedure, the police responded to the scene regardless. When Officer Matt Vereb of the LBTPD arrived, an individual was performing CPR on Clarke, who had collapsed on the beach after helping rescue the kids from the water, one of which was his 15-year-old son.
The Beach Haven First Aid Squad also responded.
Clarke was later pronounced dead. The police said they could not comment on the cause of death, as an autopsy must be performed before any statement can be made. The autopsy results will not be available for several weeks, according to the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Free or reduced-priced beach badges available on LBI for certain individuals

Photo via Google
Starting this summer, veterans may
obtain a free Ship Bottom beach badge.
Requiring residents and visitors to pay for separate beach badges for nearly all of the state’s shore towns in the summer is a controversial topic. Many people think accessing the beaches should be free. The fact that badge requirements vary by municipality, including on Long Beach Island where there are six different municipalities in just an 18-mile distance, is another point of contention. While some of the towns’ rules may eventually be updated to include free or reduced-fee badges for certain people due to a new bipartisan measure signed into law by Gov. Christie in January, some of the Island’s municipalities already offer beach badge exemptions for many of these citizens.
As per the new law, those eligible for a complimentary badge, which is at the discretion of each municipality by ordinance, include veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable and who have either served at least 90 days in active duty or have been discharged or released from active duty due to a service-incurred injury or disability; active military personnel in any of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the New Jersey National Guard, who have completed initial active duty training, and their spouses and dependent children over 12 years old; individuals who meet the disability criteria for disability benefits under Title II of the federal Social Security Act; and anyone 65 or older.­­­­­­
Those who qualify may present a valid military identification card, form DD-214 or similar document, or state driver’s license or identification card indicating that the holder is a veteran of the U.S. military.
Surf City has offered free badges to active military personnel and their immediate families for many years. These individuals can receive a wristband by showing the proper identification at borough hall. Children younger than 12 and seniors 65 or older are permitted to access the town’s beaches for free without having to obtain a badge.
Veterans and the disabled are not currently eligible for free or reduced badges in town.
“We’re not doing anything with that right now because we have to figure out the number of veterans in Ocean County alone,” said Borough Councilman Peter Hartney. “We don’t know the numbers, and we still have the expenses to take care of the beach. Our planning is already set.”
The town has to anticipate revenue from its beaches each year. If that number isn’t met, the funding has to come out of the budget, he explained.
Because the state has enacted the new law, the councilman believes it should provide grants to cover the additional costs, including for training badge checkers to properly identify appropriate documentation.
“Our costs don’t go away," Hartney said. "Do we have to raise our cost of the beach badge to cover our expenses?”
Many veterans are 65 or older and thus already eligible for free beach admittance, he noted. The councilman also pointed out that many rental properties provide badges for the use of whoever’s renting that house.
In Barnegat Light, free daily beach badges for active-duty military members and their families have been granted for many years. The service people can go to the borough’s beach badge booth and show their credentials to receive free daily badges.
“If they are here more than one day, they would just have to go to the booth each day for more passes,” said Brenda Kuhn, acting administrator/clerk.
Veterans will be allotted free access starting next year, agreed borough council after discussing the issue at its June 8 meeting.
“We are going to start giving free badges for veterans in 2017 because we have sold so many badges already that it wouldn't be fair to people who already purchased them and may have qualified,” said Kuhn.
Badges for seniors 65 or older cost $12.
In Harvey Cedars, veterans and servicemen and servicewomen who are on active military duty and their family have free access to the beach. They do not need a badge but are required to show their ID to a badge checker or lifeguard.
The town had granted active military and their families free access beginning in 2012, as a thank-you for their service. The veterans’ provision was added this year due to the Christie legislation.
Seniors 65 or older are eligible for a discounted seasonal beach badge, with proof of age, for $9.
In Ship Bottom, active military and their dependents get free access with their military ID card, and veterans get free access with their veteran ID card. The active military policy was instituted last year, while the free access for veterans started this year.
Badges are discounted to $10 for anyone 65 or older.
Long Beach Township has offered free access to the beaches for active military and their immediate family since 2006. Free admittance has been offered to veterans since 2014. Active military persons need only show their ID, while veterans are given a special veteran badge.
Senior citizens 65 and older can get a seasonal badge for $5, with proof of age. Senior badges issued prior to the 2010 season are lifetime badges. If senior badges are lost or misplaced, replacement badges can be purchased for the current season for $5 each.
Seasonal beach badges may be purchased only at the township’s beach badge sales locations. Daily and weekly badges can be bought only from a badge checker on the beach.
The township's badges can be used at the beaches in High Bar Harbor, Loveladies, North Beach, Brant Beach, Beach Haven Crest, Brighton Beach, Peahala Park, Beach Haven Park, Haven Beach, The Dunes, Beach Haven Terrace, Beach Haven Gardens, Bay Vista, Spray Beach, North Beach Haven, Beach Haven Heights, Silver Sands, Beach Haven Inlet and Holgate.
Active military personnel and their families as well as veterans have been allotted free beach access in Beach Haven since 2014, upon the presentation of a valid military identification card to a beach patrol supervisor at the Centre Street Beach Patrol Headquarters.
Senior lifetime badges are available for anyone 65 or older. Replacements cost $10 each.
For more information on beach badges, contact the towns’ corresponding borough halls.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Surf City Taxpayer Association kicks off new outreach effort with ‘Pinkest Business’ award

Photo by SCTA
SCTA President Pete Williams grants the first-place
award to TLC owner Elizabeth Harrigle.
Last month, 23 businesses in Surf City showed support for Meridian Health’s Paint the Town Pink Campaign by decorating their storefronts with creative displays, flags and ribbons. The Surf City Taxpayer Association, which showed its support by adorning borough hall with planters and pink flowers, honored the participating businesses by presenting awards to the establishments with the most innovative exhibits.
First place for the Pinkest Business in Surf City Award was presented to Tuckerton Lumber Co. last week for its imaginative storefront display, which was decked out in paint brushes for an inspired interpretation of the campaign.
“This is our third year participating. I have saved my pink pigs,” said Elizabeth Harrigle, owner of TLC. “We truly enjoy decorating our storefront and were thrilled to receive the award.”
The company’s design and decorating were spearheaded this year by Kerri Hamersma of the accounts payable department.
“She did a great job,” Harrigle said. “As fun as it is, though, we know that bringing awareness and research funding is crucial. My husband and I have a family member who has battled breast cancer, so we have been personally affected by this disease. Tuckerton Lumber is so proud to be a Pink participant and hopes to bring in even more funding in the coming years.”
First runner-up went to The Little Outfit, and Anchor Wine and Spirits was named second runner-up. The Surf City Volunteer Fire Co. and EMS as well as Lou’s Electric were named honorable mentions.
The first-ever awards are part of a collaborative effort spearheaded by Surf City Patrolwoman Sarah Roe, who initially brought the campaign to Long Beach Island three years ago to help raise awareness and funds for mammography and the prevention of breast cancer.
The Pinkest Business awards are the kick-off to a new outreach effort by the taxpayer association in response to business owners’ request for help with publicity and activism surrounding vital town matters.
“We’ve been approached by several businesses who expressed interest in forming a business alliance or taxpayer/business membership that can help local entities with promotional support and advocate on their behalf on important local issues,” said Pete Williams, the association’s incoming board president. “We’re responding and are now reaching out to all 121 businesses in town to personally invite them to attend a networking and focus group meeting scheduled for Aug. 30, 7 to 9 p.m., at the Surf City Firehouse.”
For more information, interested businesses can email
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Route 72 Bridge shuttle expected to be reinstated this week for pedestrians, bicyclists

Photo by Ryan Morrill
The lack of shoulders on the new span makes
biking or walking to and from LBI impossible.
While all traffic has been moved to the new span on the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge to allow for rehabilitation of the original structure, the narrow lanes without shoulders have made it impossible for pedestrians and bicyclists to also travel to and from Long Beach Island. To accommodate these individuals, the New Jersey Department of Transportation is anticipated to reinstate the free shuttle service this week. The shuttle schedule is “forthcoming,” said Kevin Israel, an NJDOT spokesman.
Operated by the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association, the shuttle service was initially provided to pedestrians and bicyclists in November while the north sidewalk on the east and west thorofare bridges were closed for demolition and reconstruction. It was cancelled in February due to a decrease in ridership. The DOT said the commuters could walk through the closed portion of the bridge, which contractor Schiavone Construction Co. reopened a few weeks later.
The new span of the bridge is currently 5 feet lower than the original bridge, with a vertical clearance of 55 feet. When the rehabilitation of the original bridge is finished, it will be lowered to match the new structure, said Israel.
Most of the rehabilitation work this summer will occur underneath the bridge and consist of pile jacketing, pier cap repairs and scour protection. All work is projected to be finished by 2020. At that time, two lanes of eastbound traffic will be traveling on the newly built bridge and two lanes of westbound traffic will be traveling on the original, reconstructed bridge, Israel stated. The westbound bridge will have a 6-foot sidewalk with connections to communities and points of interest on the south side of the highway. Bicycle accommodations, including wider outside shoulders, will be integrated on both bridges, with 6-foot bike lanes on the trestle bridges.
Once traffic is in its final configuration, the speed limit, which was recently decreased to 45 mph due to the narrower lanes and lack of shoulders, will be returned to 55 mph, Israel noted.
The work on Bonnet Island is still underway and on schedule. All major earthwork is complete, and fencing is being installed for goose exclusion.
“The posts in the refuge will ultimately have a wire strung from them to deter geese from landing in the area and eating the new plants,” Israel explained.
The planting of wetland plants in designated wetland areas will continue through July. Once completed, upland planting, including trees and shrubs, will take place through the fall.
“NJDOT wants to remind the public that Cedar Bonnet Island (actually Bonnet Island) is still an active construction site and is closed until further notice,” Israel stressed.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Beachfill in Beach Haven just about finished; dune walkovers under construction

The beachfill portion of Beach Haven’s replenishment is nearly complete, Borough Manager Richard Crane told the public at the town council’s monthly meeting on Monday, June 13. Most of the piping is expected to be removed from the beach this week as contractor Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. moves on to Holgate.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Agate Construction crews build the handicap
beach entrance at Fifth Street in Beach Haven.
“You really have to stand at the water’s edge and look up to fully appreciate the magnitude not only of the dunes themselves, but of the sheer size of the beach itself and the distance,” said Crane. “The dunes are 30 feet across. I marvel at it; it’s an amazing project.”
Two years ago, he said, water could be seen under the Fifth Street Pavilion, but now there’s “quite a bit of sand” there.
Responding to a question from the audience, Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis said the replenishment sand will be naturally mixed in with the soft, white sand over time and “will go back to looking the way it did.”
“I’m on Second Street, and already, because of the wind and everything that’s blown around, there’s pure white sand on my beach. It’s unbelievable,” she stated.
Dune planting is expected to take place sometime in the fall, after the weather cools down, the mayor said.
Replenishment was supposed to start in April, but weather conditions were not conducive for connecting the pipes, which delayed the project about 20 days.
“It didn’t seem all that important at the time, but now we’re on the other end of that project at the beginning of the season, and we really do wish we had those 20 days. But it will be done, and we will be open for the season,” Crane said.
The borough manager asked the public to be patient as it normally takes about two to three weeks for the dune walkovers to be completed.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
The piping in front of the Fifth Street Pavilion
will be removed sometime this week.
The dune walkovers are being built by Agate Construction Co. Fifth, Seventh and Pearl streets, which are currently under construction, will have two means of access. A handicap entrance at each of those streets will wind around for wheelchair accessibility.
“It’s going to take a little bit longer to get there but most certainly will get everybody to the beach,” Crane said.
The beach entrances will be finished with hard-packed I-5 material. Although some people are concerned about the orange color of the material, Crane as well as the mayor said it makes it much easier to walk across the dune compared to the softer sand. Split-rail fencing and benches will also help, Taggart Davis noted.
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. As per the amendment, people are allowed to install and utilize a rollover beach access walkway only between April 1 and Nov. 1 of each year, among other restrictions.
In other meeting news, development of the municipal building on Engleside Avenue has come to a halt. Only four offers, which were all rejected by the town, were received when the project went out to bid for construction last month. Taggart Davis said the bids were at least $1.5 million over what the town had resources for.
“Their bids were well above what we had budgeted as well as what we had in terms of funding for the project,” Crane stated.
Changes to the scope and design of the building have been implemented to reduce costs. The renovation of the police department headquarters for utilization by the building department is no longer included in the project. Instead, all departments will be located in the municipal building, and the police station will most likely be demolished.
To finance the project, council adopted an ordinance amendment to appropriate an additional $500,000 for a total appropriation of $1 million, and to authorize an additional $447,000 in bonds or notes for a total authorization of $952,000.
The project will go out to bid again the first week of August.
Crane said officials hope to attract more bidders that have offers closer to what the town can finance.
“We’re working very hard to keep this project within budget,” he stated. “However, that does push the completion date out a little further than we had anticipated.”
Crane expects the building to be occupied sometime next summer, which is about six months later than originally projected. The work is predicted to start up again sometime in the fall.
When local resident Michael Peeler inquired about what would happen to the emergency operations center, which is being utilized as the temporary municipal building, Taggart Davis said she “was not at liberty to discuss it” but has been in contact with Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.-2nd) regarding possible plans. Peeler suggested turning the building into a community arts center, much like the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies; the mayor and other council members expressed interest in the idea.
The council approved liquor license renewals for Buckalew’s Tavern, the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club, Murphy’s Market and Don Rommel’s Liquor Store. The town’s remaining liquor licenses for the Sea Shell Beach and Resort Club, The Engleside Inn restaurant, The Marlin, The Ketch and The Black Whale will be up for renewal at the council’s agenda meeting on Wednesday, June 22, at 9:30 a.m. If renewed, these establishments, which all have the ability to host teen nights as per their license, will not be able to serve alcohol to any patrons during those times. Taggart Davis said the rule was implemented years ago but over the years has “disappeared.”
“I would personally like teenagers to have a place to go, but we just don’t want it to be associated with alcohol,” she stated.
Following the June 22 agenda meeting, Taggart Davis will meet with officials of Stockton University at the New Jersey Maritime Museum, which she said owner Deborah Whitcraft is deeding to the school.
“I thought this would be a great thing for the town if we could have this museum going into the future,” said the mayor, who recently retired from Stockton after 41 years as a professor there. “Stockton has a very good marine biology program, and I’m hoping that they can get more involved in the work that we’re doing right here with ReClam the Bay. There’s a lot going on that’s very, very exciting in that respect.”
Though Taggart Davis said dredging the Little Egg Inlet was nixed this year by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife because of endangered species, she noted that part of the Intracoastal Waterway has been dredged, and some of the material was used to fill a cut of Mordecai Island.
Dock Road resident Mary Ann Hovan, who had asked the council at the monthly meeting in April for help dealing with the vacant properties surrounding her home, stood before the members with the same request.
“I don’t know if I want to come here anymore. I’ve asked for help and assistance, and this is what I have next door to me,” she said, holding up a bunch of tall weeds. “I didn’t move down here to live in a nightmare. I could have stayed where I came from.
“Everybody was so excited about Dock Road when they thought something was going to happen financially,” she added. “But I’m stuck with this. It’s not fair. I don’t know what else to do.”
Councilman Jim White told Hovan that Jim Kelly, the borough’s code enforcement officer, had tried to get in touch with her that day and will catch up with her later in the week to have the grass cut.
“We can’t just go onto somebody’s property. We have to go through the procedures, and when the property is no longer in the hands of a person in town, it takes a lot more time,” said Crane. “This has been assigned to Jim, and he’s been working diligently on it.”
Despite the vacant homes not being his, Peeler offered to cut the weeds near Hovan’s house for her.
“If the weeds are bothering you, you go over there and whack them down. Somebody’s not going to say, ‘Oh no, I want my weeds.’ I’ll come over, and I’ll whack them,” he told her.
White expressed condolences for the victims of the massacre on Sunday at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., which is the nation’s deadliest mass shooting.
“It’s a huge tragedy and a blight on our country,” he said.
The councilman also expressed his gratitude for the work of Sherry Mason, who was reappointed that night as borough clerk and registrar of vital statistics. White was especially proud of Mason’s efforts to have all the vital statistics redone.
“I know people may not be interested in these things, but just to see that type of work is really very exhilarating, knowing that our history will be preserved long after we’re gone for 100 years,” he stated.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.