By DON STINE
More than 200 people turned out at a five-hour rally to show their support to preserve a 32-acre tract on Route 35 and Deal Road in Ocean Township from commercial and residential development.
“People were just showing up or writing checks and I was impressed,” event organizer Jacqui Wenzel said.
Wenzel said that more 200 people attended and that about $1,000 was raised to support legal actions to preserve the site. The rally was held on Sunday, June 24 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the new band shell area in Joe Palaia Park.
A current development proposal by Paramount Realty seeks to build a 112-room Marriott Hotel, a Wawa gas station and convenience store, a fitness center, and a Turning Points restaurant along the Route 35 corridor with 70 upscale townhouses on the eastern portion of the site.
Wenzel said many people coming to the rally thought the development was “a done deal.”
“But we told them there is still an opportunity and that they should not feel discouraged. Many people wanted to know what they can do,” she said.
She said that there are many people not supporting the development, including long-time residents.
“They feel the neighborhood has changed dramatically and they don’t appreciate the landscape being created here,” she said.
Wenzel said that tax-exempt donations will be given to New Jersey Appleseed (NJA), which is willing to get involved to preserve the property.
“They will be writing the checks,” Wenzel said.
For about 20 years, NJA has been an independent public-interest law center created and run by attorneys. NJA views issues from a lawyer’s perspective and focuses on law-based solutions and approaches which often, but don’t necessarily, involve litigation.
The organization has gone to court to advocate for voting rights and health care and to oppose overreach by either government or corporate interests.
For more information on the preservation effort go to save32acres.org.