Ocean Grove Association Urges Opening of North End Lot


coaster-news-200-newBy BONNIE GRAHAM

The Ocean Grove Home Owners Association continues on with its active engagement in two “hot button” issues concerning this historic community – the ever-present parking situation, and the increase in the annual ground rent for some commercial properties.

At Saturday’s membership meeting, Joyce Klein, Chair of the OGHOA’s Parking Committee, said, “The June 13 Neptune Township Committee workshop meeting did not go as we had hoped. Realistically, we did not expect an immediate “OK” to our recommendations, but we did expect to receive serious consideration.”

Klein said the Neptune Township Committee will create its own Ocean Grove Parking Task Force, with representatives as follows – two members from the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association, two members from the Ocean Grove Area Chamber of Commerce, two members from the Township Committee, two Ocean Grove residents, Joyce Klein and Richard Williams from the OGHOA Parking Committee, two members from the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, and a Neptune Township Police Traffic Officer.

Sign-up sheets were placed at the back of the Camp Meeting Association’s Community Room, the OGHOA meeting site, onto which residents were encouraged to sign up to make comments on the parking issue at the next six Township Committee meetings. They were asked to speak on their own personal parking problems and to offer suggested solutions. At the regular Township Committee meetings, residents are given five minutes to speak, and they must provide their name and address, Klein said. There are slots for five residents to speak at each meeting.

She also read a petition on the parking issue that she encouraged the home owners to distribute to their neighbors for their signatures. The petition included Neptune Township Mayor Kevin McMillan’s statement, made at the June 13 workshop meeting, that “we (Neptune Township Committee) will not let this issue drop.”

A resident asked, “Is the Camp Meeting Association participating in the parking committee task force?” to which Neptune Township Committeewoman Carol Rizzo said, “Yes, two members of the committee will be from the CMA.”

The OGHOA recently emailed its membership on the parking situation, and asked them to call the CMA to ask that the vacant North End lot be opened for parking. They wrote, “Opening the North End lot will have an immediate and significant impact on the availability of parking during periods of peak demand, and will generate significant revenue for the Camp Meeting Association. Hypothetically: 100 cars at $10 per car for just 30 days = $30,000.00. As we all know the period of “peak demand” is much more than 30 days, so the revenue potential for the CMA is quite large.”

Ground Rent Increase:

OGHOA Vice President Barbara Burns said, “Not much has happened. Dr. Whilden (President of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association) asked for a meeting to set up an ad hoc committee, and this has not been set.”

Burns spoke of a meeting on this issue that was attended by numerous Ocean Grove merchants, inn keepers, realtors, the OGHOA, and members of the Township Committee. “All we have learned is that the CMA will address the ground rent issue on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

The OGHOA and business community believe this is a bad situation, as they want certainty and stability.

“J.P. Morgan Chase and the Bank of America will not issue mortgages in Ocean Grove due to the ground rent issue,” she said.

Burns said the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce and the OGHOA have retained legal counsel. “Our goal is not litigation but to get an understanding of the legal issues pertaining to this situation – what precipitated this problem, and how do we handle it,” she said.

Their attorney is Matthew Adams, whose office is based in Roseland. He is the son of former Neptune Township Chief of Police Robert Adams. He was one of three lawyers who were interviewed by the COC and OGHOA.

Burns said they need to interact with the Camp Meeting Association and that “This has been an unfolding process.” They are waiting for feedback from the CMA.

The OGHOA has a Legal Defense Fund that is used only for legal expenses, and this fund has been tapped into to pay the OGHOA’s share.

Presentation on flooding in Ocean Grove:

Guest speaker Dr. Philip Orton, assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, discussed flooding in Ocean Grove – past, present, and future. Dr. Orton, an Ocean Grove resident, earned a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from Columbia University.

Dr. Orton displayed a number of photographs of historical storms and the havoc they wrecked on the Ocean Grove beach front and boardwalk. These included the December 1992 nor’easter, the 1953 winter storm, and the 1944 hurricane, the latter of which destroyed the boardwalk, heavily damaged the North End Hotel, and left a narrow strip of beach. “The Ocean Grove beaches were smaller in those years. He displayed an article from the August 26, 1983 issue of “The Ocean Grove Record” that spoke of a category one storm that hit the area at that time.

Ocean Grove has “re-engineered beaches”, thanks to the Army Corps of Engineer’s beach replenishment projects. The beaches are significantly larger now than they were in years past, thanks to this program, he said.

Every 20 years or so severe coastal floods strike Ocean Grove. There is no evidence of a “new normal” concerning the storms that may hit this area, but the beaches will be difficult to maintain in 30-100 years. “Global warming is responsible for some of the rise in sea levels”, he said.

The land in New Jersey — along the coastal plain and with sandy soil — is slowly sinking. Dr. Orton mentioned Canada and New York State, both of which had large glaciers during the last ice age.

Dr. Orton said his concern is that the Federal Government may eventually stop funding the beach replenishment program.

When asked about the possibility of a tsunami hitting this area, Dr Orton said, “These are very rare on the East Coast – perhaps once every 10,000 years – a very low probability.”

When asked which hurricane models are more accurate – European or American – Dr. Orton said, “The European model is dominant. It is used the most. The American model, and other models, is used with less frequency.”

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