By WILLIAM CLARK
Opponents of the digital sign at the entrance of Ocean Grove received welcome news when Neptune Business Administrator Gina LaPlaca said that religious messages are no longer allowed.
At this week’s Township Committee meeting residents criticized the sign’s messaging claiming that it clashes with its purpose of informing residents during emergencies. Speakers at the meeting also claimed that the modernity of the sign did not comply with the traditional aesthetic of the historic district.
LaPlaca said after research, the township discovered a resolution from 2010 approving the sign, with funding from the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. Its stated purpose was to be “available to the township for displaying information and emergency messages.” The resolution also waived any approvals by the Historical Preservation Committee.
LaPlaca said the sign is located on township land and thus “scripture and other religious iconography are not permitted.”
The camp meeting has been informed and ensured LaPlaca that religious messaging would no longer appear on the display.
A resolution is in the works to codify the purpose and function of the sign.
Many in the audience cheered at the conclusion of LaPlaca’s statement.
This ruling comes as a victory for those in the community that push back against the camp meetings religiosity. Commenters frequently ask what can be done about iconography on beach badges. Pushback against the design of the now damaged pier came when it was revealed it would be in the shape of a cross. Advocates are waiting on how courts will rule regarding the closure of the beach on Sunday mornings after the state Department of Environmental Protection ruled against the camp meeting’s long standing practice of blocking access to the sand from the boardwalk on Sunday mornings during the summer.
LaPlaca said the township also participated in a meeting regarding the increasing flooding in the area.
“It really was a collection of every stakeholder you could possibly imagine all the way from the local offices to the federal level,” she said.
Several trouble spots were identified and discussed including Wesley, Fletcher and Alberta lakes.
Plans are in the works for a strategy amongst local municipalities to mitigate the risks of flooding. LaPlaca said that flooding problems are eligible for many sources of funding that can help with the issue.
“The goal is to work with our partners to have that joint plan that will look attractive for funding opportunities,” she said.