Thursday, January 31, 2013

Saying Goodbye to the Jersey Shore

"To me, this is nothing more than a Federal money grab" - Brick Township Mayor Stephen Acropolis, as quoted in the January 31, 2013 Star-Ledger

Many of us along the Shore are very concerned about what the new FEMA flood maps mean to the future of our home. To contrast to what happened in New Orleans after Katrina, the Federal government vowed to raise the levees and ensure that a city – built below sea-level – did not flood again.
However, in the aftermath of Sandy, Governor Christie seems to have aligned with the Federal government in a mis-guided attempt to permanently shut the middle-class out of the opportunity to own property on the Jersey Shore. The FEMA maps show an over-reaction to a likely once-in-a-lifetime event, and Christie’s announcement last week about what homeowner’s are going to be forced to do is akin to forcing every property owner in New Orleans to raise their buildings above Katrina flood levels without putting any effort into reinforcing the levee system. In New Jersey, the fix is easier than that, but it seems our Governor and our Federal government are only capable of looking at the dreadful fix of forcing homeowners to pay unreasonable amounts of money to fall into conformance with a hastily drawn, reactionary map that shows that little – if any – thought was put into what conformance with that map means to the residents and property owners of the area.
Please read the the piece today in the Star-Ledger by Paul Mulshine: Shore Mayors Say FEMA's All Over the Map

2013 Light of Day - Part 2 - Saturday and Sunday

The Light of Day benefit to cure Parkinson’s disease continued on Saturday under unusually warm and sunny January skies. The bright sunshine and lack of wind made hopping from venue to venue a pleasure. Saturday is historically the most jam packed of all of the days, with simultaneous events in all ten venues culminating in an always sold out epic performance in the Paramount Theater. 

Kids Rock at the Stone Pony
© 2013 John Posada
Saturday kicked off with an event created especially for children. The Kids Show at McLoones featured performances by Mr. Ray, and Yosi, with guest appearances by James Dalton and Melissa Chill. Kid friendly songs and dancing ensured the young ones had a great time. On Sunday, the kid-centric fun continued at the Stone Pony, with Kids Rock, where kids who are already accomplished musicians take the famous Stone Pony stage and rock out just like their elder counterparts.

The Wonder Bar hosted a showcase of musical talent with the Asbury Blues show. Kicking off the afternoon show was Sandy Mack and Friends (recently named 'Best Blues Band' at the Asbury Park Music Awards), with guests Marc Ribler and Matt O’Ree. Blues was the theme as such acts as Stormin’ Norman, Pat Guadagno, and Arlan Feiles took the stage. A highlight was the “Welcome Home Blues” by the always energetic Tangiers Blues Band. In between sets the second stage featured local favorites James Dalton on harmonica with blues master Chuck Lambert on guitar. Al Chez and The Brothers of Funk (Chez was the trumpet player on the David Letterman Show band for over twenty-three years) closed the day with a full set of horns that blew the house away. Take note that while the charity event is over, the music jams don’t stop – the Wonder Bar is now hosting Sunday afternoon ‘Wonder Jams”  featuring Sandy Mack and Friends.

Al Chez
Sandy Mack & Friends
Tangiers Blues Band

Mixed Bag Too audience at the Dauphin Grille
 Mixed Bag Too at Dauphin Grille featured Glen Burtnik and the Madison Avenue Hillbillys from 12 to 6 PM. The Dauphin Grille is located in the lobby of the newly renovated Berkeley-Carteret Hotel and is fast becoming a local attraction for live music, drinks, and dinner.

Songwriters On Stage is a chance for music lovers to hear songs by their favorite local artists and then interact with them through open discussions about writing and the experience of being a musician. There were three sessions over the weekend and each was well attended by fans eager to ask questions about songwriting:

Rosie’s CafĂ© Concert at The Saint on Saturday showcased Kenny “Stringbean” Sorensen. Kenny was recently recognized as the Top Multi-Instrumentalist by the Asbury Music Awards.

Songwriters by the Sea, Sunday at the Watermark featured Bobby Mahoney, Lisa Bouchelle, and a host of other local guitar talents.

Songwriters’ Circle at McLoones Supper Club on Sunday offered a dinner show along with fourteen different artists including Joe Grushecky and Joel Plaskett.

Movie Night

For those in the mood for a movie, on Saturday the Atonement Lutheran Church screened a West Side Panel Discussion Video. Presented by the Asbury Park Historical Society, the video featured a conversation with Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny Lyon and other prominent Asbury Park musicians as they discussed the city’s unique music scene.

Light of Day 2013 Paramount Theatre Show

The most heavily attended show of the weekend is always the Paramount Theatre show, which was headlined by pop music icon Darlene Love this year. Bruce Springsteen – never formally on the bill – has made surprise appearances nine of the first twelve years, although he was unable to attend this year due to family commitments. The Light of Day Benefit is named after a song written by Springsteen for a 1987 movie of the same name. Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox performed the song in the movie with a fictitious band called “The Barbusters.” Benefit founder Bob Benjamin chose it as the theme for this charity because of the lyrics and the connection to Michael J. Fox, who is also diagnosed with this Parkinson’s. Bob Benjamin, a well-known music promoter in the area, created the fundraiser in 1998 after being diagnosed with the disease.

Darlene Love performs at the Paramount Theater
Darlene Love, a 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, sang her hits including Da Doo Ron Ron as well as a rousing medley of Marvin Gaye hits. The stage was loaded with talent all evening, including Glen Burtnik, Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers. Christine Martucci and Reagan Richards rocked the house backed by B.D. Lenz on guitar, Eric Safka on the Hammond organ, and John Hummel on drums. John recently won the John Bonham “Bonzo Bash” Contest and flew out to California to perform at NAMM just days after this performance.

On Saturday night, the Gin Blossoms rocked the Stone Pony along with special guests Jersey Syndicate, King's Highway and Jake’s Gorilla. 

Full Tilt Boogie Bash at the Wonder Bar was another Saturday night highlight. Matt O'Ree took the stage with Slim Chance & The Gamblers, Billy Hector and Jeff Cafone from Outside The Box. O’Ree blew the audience away with his guitar instrumental 88 Miles, from his 2012 CD Live in Denver. “I wrote that song after being pulled over for doing 88,” O'Ree said, describing ghe genesis of the song. “It’s a lot of fun to play which fits into the whole atmosphere down here.  Everyone is full of energy, glad to be able to play music to help out, and its great seeing all of our friends again!”
Matt O'Ree at the Full Tilt Boogie Bash

Marc Ribler at the Full Tilt Boogie Bash
On Saturday afternoon, The Saint hosted Musicians on a Mission, an organization of local musicians that performs for a number of charities. This year’s show featured the Matt Wade Band, Glimmer Grass Band, McCarthy & McCoy Band, and Goldenseal. Matt Wade was recently recognized as the Top Keyboard Player by the Asbury Music Awards and is someone worth going out of your way to see.

Saturday evening, Rock at The Saint, featuring Justin Jones, Lisa Bianco and Almost There, rocked the joint as a special treat for the hard core rockers in town.

On Sunday, Last Note at The Saint closed the weekend with The Jacob Jeffries Band, Woodfish, Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why, Dub Proof, and Random Test.

The Light of Day 2013 in Asbury Park was just a bit different this year. A festival not only to raise money and awareness for those living with Parkinson’s disease, but also a festival of the renewed spirit and rebuilding of the Hurricane Sandy battered shore. Every note that played rang out in the triumph of the local music scene over the devastation that had been wrought by Sandy, every smile was a reminder that the Shore is indeed, on the mend. - Special to Inlets and Outlets from Debbie Miksiewicz

All pictures courtesy John Posada.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Red Tape Is Alive and Well In Union Beach, NJ

This letter is from a business owner in Union Beach whose restaurant, Jakeabob's Bay, was completely destroyed by Sandy. Gigi Dorr has been a force of positivity for 92 days, but her words today show that even the strongest among us are being bent backward by the red tape during the recovery efforts. Please read, and please share. - Thanks, Jack.

Jakeabob's Bay - on the waterfront in Union Beach.

"Day 92. Frustrated. We are 92 days into the "non red tape" super mess !!!!

I was interviewed today, by some production co., I have to be honest I keep on talking to anyone who will listen. My thought process is that someone will hear what I have to say. Someone will get us the answers. Someone will figure out where all this money is. Someone will figure out this awful red tape mess. Someone... will help !!! What in the world is taking so long ? What is Congress doing ? What is the problem ? WHERE IS THE HELP ? WE are in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ? Correct ????

Dear Mr. President, Hello Congress, we are over here !!! We are the ones with no homes, no heat, no buildings, no school, destroyed Firehouses, flooded EMT building, no walls, we are the ones who have to lift our homes, our businesses, we are the ones who 92 days in have NO ANSWERS, we are the ones who are fighting with our insurance companies. we are the ones trying to figure how high we have to build, can we build, should we build. We are AMERICANS, pay a boat load of taxes, pay for insurance policies and may I add on time, because if we didnt pay on time, we would be CANCELLED !!!! I think it's called accountability !!! Who is accountable for the insurance companies ? I want to know, I want answers, WE want answers, WE NEED answers!! How is this even possible ?

Hello Mr. President....are you out there Congress???? Stop it !!! Enough is enough !!!! Here is an idea come here, come to us, let us show you how we are doing, let us give you a first hand tour...better yet let's have a sleep over !!!! Just one night come stay in our homes with no heat, no walls, no floors, no carpet, busted pipes. Get your head out of your asses.....Make someone accountable, someone step up to the plate !!!! We have proven we are strong, we are Jersey Strong !!!! We are survivors ....we are trying to figure all this mess out..we are united, we got that part. Now do your part....let's go !!!!!

As I see it, the ONLY ones helping are the Churches and Private sector, private families, non profit foundations, our neighbors.... if you can't handle the situation move over let's us figure it out !!! Let Carl figure it out !!!!

I apologies for the rant, I am frustrated. I am begging someone, anyone for answers !!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Look At Housing Along Route 35 After Sandy

Nothing speaks of the charm and vibe of the Jersey Shore like the summer rental, especially on the barrier island from Bay Head to Seaside, along Route 35. For generations, many a round of mini-golf has been played and many a heart has been broken on warm summer nights between the Barnegat Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, this strip of land, sometimes no more than few blocks wide, was among the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. Countless reports have described the damage to the infrastructure and homes along the ten miles of Route 35 from Bay Head to Seaside and as Sandy fades from the news, the job of recovery goes on.

View from the top of the Mantoloking Bridge looking east.
January 27, 2013.
Route 35, from Point Pleasant to Mantoloking has been closed for the most part since the storm, but on February 1, the road will re-open from Point Pleasant south to its terminus in Seaside Park. Motorists will not be able to turn onto side streets in Mantoloking and other affected areas without proof of residency but the fact the highway is open at all is a major step forward. If you decide to take a ride, be aware that motorists are also subject to random stops and searches by the police because looting is still a major concern.

This begs the question about what the summer rental season will be. Many of the bungalows and rental homes in Ortley Beach, Normandy Beach and Lavallette were flooded in the storm, while others were completely lost to it. A reasonable estimate would be that 90% of all the homes in the area suffered severe damage from flooding and it will take some time for rental inventory to rise again. There is also a growing fear among area residents that new regulations and insurance costs will price middle class owners out of the area and that the small rental home everyone who has ever been to the Jersey Shore is familiar with will eventually cease to exist. This would be as great a tragedy to the memories of those of us who grew up here as the storm itself.
On January 23, Governor Christie announced new regulations that are onerous to homeowners without a large cash reserve, and many fear that we have begun the inexorable drift to a shoreline that looks like the Outer Banks in North Carolina – the small clusters of summer homes and bungalows being replaced by larger homes on larger lots.

A summer home on Inlet Drive in Point Pleasant Beach.
The new regulations include a requirement that homeowners spend the tens of thousands of dollars necessary to raise their homes on pilings to reflect the new FEMA floodmaps released in December, 2012, or face flood insurance premiums as high as $31,000 per year.  Grants of up to $30,000 are available from the government, but the grant process is long and many homeowners face having to begin the rebuilding process before they receive the grant money. The fears all of us along the shore have dealt with our entire lives has now become a reality – rebuild against an ocean that will do what it wants, when it wants, or change the very face of the Jersey Shore that has become a home to so many people, if even for a week or two during the summer.
The power and fury of the Atlantic Ocean is now a stark reality to the tens of thousands of residents who  never experienced this type of storm before. For years, residents in the newly developed areas of the Jersey Shore were warned that a storm would eventually come and wreak havoc, and that storm came on October 29, 2012.
"I'm doing the best I can to help folks," Christie said during Wednesday’s announcement in Seaside. "But the government cannot be the guarantor of a good result for everyone. I can't fix every problem. Any politician who gets behind a mic and tells you they can fix every problem is a liar."
Like this row of bungalows in Ortley Beach, many homes were flooded
but left standing.
Understanding the summer season is a mere four months away, I sat down with a local realtor last week  to talk about the initial forecast for the summer rental season and to get a feel for the real estate market in general in the affected areas. What I heard was both dismaying and uplifting – much like the story of the entire region since the storm hit.
At this time in a normal season in Point Pleasant Beach – an area that was completely flooded – ten homes would be on the market for summer rental and there are currently six, which is an encouraging number. Indications are that Point Pleasant Beach will see the full inventory of summer rentals available by Memorial Day. Areas in Manasquan (to the north) and the Brick and Toms River areas on the barrier island (to the south) may see a smaller percentage of homes available, but the situation is not as dire as I thought it was before speaking with Kathryn Fencik, a Sales Rep at the Weichert office in Point Pleasant Beach. "This summer, the beach will be here, the boardwalk will be here, and the fun will be here,” Fencik said, in spite of the fact that there are still hurdles to navigate throughout the region.
Looking south along the boardwalk in Point Pleasant, from the Inlet to
Jenkinsons. Picture was taken December 30, 2012.

The commercial area of the boardwalk in Point Pleasant is on track to be opened by the time the season is in full swing, and in fact, many businesses on the boardwalk itself are open for business now. The area to the north of Jenkinson's and the commercial area may still not be ready until after the season starts. The Aquarium at Jenksinon’s, which took quite a blow from the storm, is scheduled to re-open for Easter weekend. (Easter weekend is traditionally the start of the weekend season along the boardwalk, with Memorial Day weekend heralding the start of the full-time season).

According to Fencik, one change we may see this year is that summer rentals of inland properties (a mile or so from the beach) may become attractive alternatives to vacationers who are shut out of their traditional Jersey Shore vacation because of diminished inventories.
Brick Twp, between Rt 35 and the ocean.
As far as the health of the market for sales, there is mixed news depending on whether you are buying or selling.  “If you ever dreamed of owning a summer home, this may be the summer to make your purchase,” Fencik said. She is currently aware of seven homes that are available for well-below market price because of flood damage, with one house in particular that had to be completely gutted inside, reduced in price by $100,000. In Point Pleasant Borough alone there are another seven homes that the owners simply decided to walk away from. While this is devastating news for the homeowners, prospective buyers should be aware of the opportunity to take on a true handy-man special with tremendous reward potential.

Another home in Point Pleasant Borough sustained minor damage and the selling price has been reduced from $600,000 to $400,000.

While there is still much work to be done, and there are still many people who are reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, a trip down Route 35 on the barrier island tells the story of a resilient region picking itself up, dusting itself off, and getting on with the job of rebuilding the Jersey Shore.

Advice for vacationers for this summer is to still come “down the Shore” but to plan early.

All pictures this page © 2013 Jack Sharkey

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 Light of Day - Asbury Park (Part I - Thursday and Friday)

Thirteen years ago at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, a benefit for Parkinson’s disease was first held. Since then, the event run by the Light of Day organization has grown to include thirty-five shows in twelve countries in the US, Canada, and Europe. 

The iconic Tilly was reproduced for the Chevy Corvette’s
50th anniversary advertising campaign and has now
become a permanent part of the building.
Photo courtesy of the Wonder Bar

On January 17, 2013, a three-day event took over the whole town of Asbury Park, bringing a welcome boost to this part of the Hurricane Sandy-battered shoreline. While evidence of the storm remains, attention was focused on the entertainment and the joy of supporting a good cause. Hotels were booked and restaurants were filled with delighted music lovers. Everywhere you turned, musicians and fans alike were all checking out bands and old friends; the green room at the Wonder Bar was a virtual magnet for everyone, including notables Matt O’Ree, Eric Safka, Joe Grushecky, and Garland Jeffreys. 

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects between one-and-a-half million and two million Americans. There is no known cure at this time. If left untreated, the disorder gets worse until a person is totally disabled, and may also lead to loss of brain function and an early death. Parkinson’s may appear at any age, but it most often develops after age fifty and in some cases runs in families. This disease occurs in all parts of the world, affecting both men and women.

The Light of Day Foundation's mission is to fund research into possible cures, improved treatments and support for Parkinson’s patients, their families and their caregivers. In 2012, the Asbury Park shows raised nearly $300,000. “I believe in helping the cause for finding a cure. Parkinson’s is a terrible disease that needs to be stopped,” said Matt O’Ree, whose band, the Matt O’Ree Band, is just one of the acts who volunteer their talents each year. 

With ten venues, twenty-five events, and well over one hundred musicians from all over the country, there was something for everyone. Many shows ran simultaneously, and blues, rock, covers and original music, mixed with the unusually warm salt air on a beautiful January weekend. Click here for a full schedule and list of artists.  

James Dalton and Joe Miller at The Saint. January 17, 2013
Thursday, January 17 started at The Saint with First Note, featuring the Heavy Halves, and the Ben Arnold Band. James Dalton, who has been involved in the Light of Day Benefit since its inception was once again involved in everything from playing on stage to manning the doors of the Saint. His rendition of “Come Back to the Jersey Shore” (Frankonia, 2012) fit in perfectly with the post Sandy vibe. Written pre-Sandy, it captures the spirit of summer at the Jersey Shore. James’ deep voice and soulful harmonica – combined with Joe Miller’s guitar talent – conveyed songs about Sandy that stirred the heart. James noted, “The best thing about this event is the wonderful people it attracts. Everyone has such a great time and the musicians have a chance to visit each other and play for a good cause.”

Asbury Lanes hosted its “Rockin’ Bowl-A-Thon” featuring Mike Marino, NJ’s “Bad boy of Comedy” who is also a Tonight Show regular. Other acts on the bill at the Lanes were Jessie Malin & the St. Marks Social, and Willie Nile. Professional bowler Tony Bilello was also in attendance.

Sonny Kenn at the Wonder Bar
Down the street, The Wonder Bar featured “Mixed Bag One,” presenting local favorites like the Sonny Kenn Band and The Laura Crisci All Stars. Owned by Lance and Debbie Larson, the Wonder Bar has been an Asbury Park staple for as long as most of us can remember. The Wonder Bar was recently renovated, and now sports two stages, so during the weekend the live music never stopped. Local blues legend Billy Hector, who played at the Wonder Bar on day two, will be holding his CD release party on at the Wonder Bar on March 23. Not only does the legendary venue present great talent, the bartenders are polite and efficient, and the hamburgers are known to be some of the best in the area.
Denny Laine at McLoone's Supper Club

On Friday, January 18, Denny Laine, guitarist with Wings and the Moody Blues performed a sold-out show at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, with special guest Peter Asher, iconic producer and former member of Peter & Gordon. They performed The Beatles’ Abbey Road album in its entirety as well as songs from Wings and The Moody Blues. Kate Taylor (sister of James Taylor) joined them. This newly renovated venue boasts a full restaurant, stunning oceanfront views and is centrally located on Ocean Avenue directly across from the Paramount Theatre.

Asbury Angels Induction at the Stone Pony

A special treat allowed the crowd to become part of the music by taking part in a live recording of Marc Riblers “Asbury Angels” theme song, recorded live at the Stone Pony after the 2013 Asbury Angels Induction show. A special appearance by teen idol Bobby Rydell performing with Boccigalupe & The Badboys kicked off this special event.

Inductees are memorialized with special placards placed on benches along the Asbury boardwalk. "The mission of the Asbury Angels is to honor and memorialize the lives and history of members of the Asbury Park musical community, including but not limited to musicians, tech support persons, DJs, journalists, club owners, record company personnel, managers and promoters."  

Open Mic Night at the Wonder Bar

Rob Dye and Cook Smith hosted an Open Mic on Friday that showcased over forty musicians in one evening. Anyone with a song in their heart was able to sign up for a spot to rock the stage. A good time was had by all.

* * *

For the old school fans, LOD Remembers the Fast Lane at Asbury Lanes was hosted by “Anything, Anything’s” Rich Russo. Dramarama and The Red House (who reunited especially for Light of Day benefit) performed. Located next to Asbury Lanes, The Fast Lane was a popular venue featuring the best in original rock. It closed in 2007.

Rock fans were treated to a special event when Godspeed took the stage at The Saint with their blend of hard rock and heavy metal. Godspeed toured with Black Sabbath and Dio before breaking up to do individual projects. The 2012 reunion and upcoming tour promise to bring back some of the heavy metal magic this band is known for.

Thursday and Friday were an exciting prelude to the fabulous music to come on Saturday and Sunday. Watch for Part II of the 2013 Light of Day Benefit next week! - Debbie Miksiewicz (Special Nightlife and Dining Correspondent to Inlets and Outlets)

Photographs © 2013 John Posada except where noted.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Changing Jersey Shore: Manasquan, Herring, Cranberry and Barnegat Inlets

After Hurricane Sandy opened a new inlet at the foot of the Route 528 Mantoloking Bridge, we were reminded once again of the transient nature of the Jersey Shore.

View looking east from the mainland toward Mantoloking, just north of the
Mantoloking Bridge taken during the low tide eight hours prior to
Hurricane Sandy's landfall.
© 2012 Jack Sharkey

Satellite view of the Mantoloking Inlet on November 1, 2012.
The Mantoloking Bridge is center left. The inlet has opened at the spot
where the houses to the left of the bridge in the above picture once stood,
Courtesy NOAA

In 1740, John Lawrence was the first European to survey the ten mile strip of land from Manasquan Inlet south to Cranberry Inlet. The area was called Squan Beach and was a deserted stretch of sand dunes, scrub pines, coastal meadows and cedar stands. A storm just prior to his survey had opened Cranberry Inlet opposite the mouth of the Toms River. A few miles north of Cranberry Inlet was Herring Inlet which was situated near the head of Barnegat Bay, north of the inlet Sandy cut in 2012.

Several miles south of Cranberry Inlet was Barendegat Inlet (Dutch for breakers inlet).

Herring Inlet became un-navigable after the 1740 storm and by the first decade of the 1800s it was closed and had faded from memory. The 1740 storm opened one inlet (Cranberry) and effectively closed another (Herring).

The image at left is a contemporary map of Revolutionary War battles and skirmishes that shows Manasquan Inlet, Herring Inlet (nearly closed), Cranberry Inlet and Barnegat Inlet.

Note that Manasquan Inlet is well north of its present location, and that Barnegat Inlet is mis-identified as Cranberry Inlet. Click here for full-sized and scalable version.

Manasquan Inlet

The current Inlet is located where the first
letter 'T' in 'Atlantic Ocean' is found.
In 1778 and 1780 British troops and loyalists sacked the salt works at Union Landing. At this time, the Manasquan Inlet was well north of its current location, at what is now known as Stockton Lake in Sea Girt. At the time, the Manasquan River drained through the body of water now known as the Glimmer Glass to the Atlantic Ocean. In 1926, the Point Pleasant Canal connecting the Barnegat Bay with the Manasquan River was opened and the opening of the canal almost immediately closed the Manasquan Inlet. Within a year of the opening of the canal, three hundred-year-old ports in Manasquan, Brielle and Point Pleasant were landlocked and you could walk from Belmar to Point Pleasant along the shoreline without having to cross a body of water. [1]

In 1931, the Army Corps of Engineers, using boulders excavated from the new 2nd Avenue Subway line in Manhattan, built the Inlet as it currently exists.

Herring Inlet 

By the beginning of the 19th Century, Herring Inlet wave action had once again closed Herring Inlet. Although it's exact location is not known, it is generally believed to have existed just north of the inlet opened by Hurricane Sandy, in the area where Metedeconk River estuary and the Beaver Dam Creek drain into Barnegat Bay. It was not a navigable inlet for much of its existence, which may explain why it is not shown on contemporary charts.

Next to Herring Inlet was the highest known sand dune on the Atlantic Coast. Known as High Hill Point,  mariners of the day used the sand dune as a navigational aid.

Cranberry Inlet  

Cranberry Inlet was opened by a vicious storm in 1740 and remained navigable only until 1812. During its sixty-two year existence, Cranberry Inlet helped industry in the area grow. The western shores of the Barnegat Bay were rich in bog iron and timber (most of the water pipes for lower Manhattan were forged in the northern Barnegat Bay); bog iron was loaded on barges at the Gravelly Docks in what is now Brick Township where they were shipped south to Cranberry Inlet and then up the coast to New York Harbor. When Cranberry Inlet closed, iron was carried overland to Shrewsbury, but the difficulty in transporting goods from the area over the wretched sand roads and the discovery of purer iron in the hills of Pennsylvania basically shut down the bog iron industry in coastal New Jersey by the end of the first half of the 19th Century.

Cranberry Inlet was located opposite the Toms River estuary in the area now known as Ortley Beach.

Barnegat Inlet

Nicolas Vischer's 1656 map of
New Netherlands.
Barnegat Inlet has not changed location much since it was first mapped by Nicolas Vischer in 1656. It is also interesting to note that Vischer's survey shows no other inlet between Sandy Hook and Barnegat. [2] In spite of its relative geologic stability, Barnegat Inlet is known as a treacherous body of water because of the constant shoaling that occurs on the landward side of the opening.

A great deal of shore has been lost over the years since Barnegat Light was built in 1856, but the March Nor'easter in 1962 posed the greatest threat to the inlet and the lighthouse. A jetty was built in the early 1990s which has significantly added sand to the southern shore of Barnegat Inlet.

* * *

Inlets are not fixed topographical features and studies have shown that our desire to fix these inlets to specific locations and depths have inevitably caused radical problems in other areas of the coast.

Hurricane Sandy was just another in a timeless series of events that have changed the coastline of New Jersey. Storms as recent as 1944 and 1962 were as violent as Sandy, but those storms occurred in areas that were sparsely developed and inhabited. The inexorable drift of sand along the Jersey Shore may be slowed or altered, but it will never be stopped. This report from the Coastal Research Center at Richard Stockton College delivers the bad news that regardless of how we try to control and tame the Atlantic Ocean, even seemingly positive results have negative effects in other areas:

Six of New Jersey’s eleven inlets are presently confined between rock jetties and cannot shift position as they once did: Shark River, Manasquan, Barnegat, Absecon, Townsends, and Cold Springs. Three inlets are still in their natural state with no structures to modify the natural equilibrium: Beach Haven/Little Egg, Brigantine, and Corsons. Two inlets, Great Egg and Hereford, have one jetty or one shoreline armored with rocks to prevent inlet channel migration from taking more of the municipal lands adjacent to the inlet. A second jetty has been built on the Sea Isle City side of Townsends Inlet with construction completed July 1999.
Recent scientific studies have shown that the tidal inlets have much greater impact on beach erosion or accretion (on individual barrier islands) than the steady flow of littoral currents to the south. If the sand moved south toward Cape May Point in a never-ceasing stream, then Cape May Point and Cape May City should be buried in beach sand. The fact is, however, that both of New Jersey’s southern-most communities were sand starved as major man-made structures and indirect, development-caused changes contributed to shoreline instability. [3]

The entire report can be found here. It offers an objective, scientific view of our relationship with our most prominent neighbor, the Atlantic Ocean. Inlets will come and inlets will go, until we model the coastline from Long Branch south to Cape May on the three miles of beachfront from Monmouth Beach to Sea Bright -- a non-existent beach protected by a twelve foot high sea wall and jetties. In the wake of Sandy, it's possible we will begin to hear suggestions that we must do just that -- change the coast permanently in a vain effort to protect a lifestyle. New York Council Speaker Christine Quinn is already suggesting seawalls be built in the areas of Queens and Brooklyn that were hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.

We need to seriously address how we want our Jersey Shore to look in the future, and at what cost to our treasuries and our treasured memories we are willing to protect something that cannot be protected.

[1] Borough of Manasquan
[2] Robert Jahn, Down Barnegat Bay, A Nor-easter Midnight Reader (Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing, 2000), 25.
[3] Coastal Research Center, New Jersey Geologic History, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tucker's Island - A Prelude to the Present

From time to time, Inlets and Outlets will explore the history of the Jersey Shore in an attempt to bring the precariousness of life along the Atlantic Coast into perspective. This installment will briefly tell the story of Tucker's Island, which was located at the southern end of Long Beach Island until being completely submerged in 1950.

The prospect of replacing expensive beachfront structures every decade or less, depending on the whims of nature, can no longer be followed. It is vital that hereafter the possibility and even probability of devastating storms be taken in to account before capital is invested along the beachfront. But the only protection against this hazard is to plan now to erect all new structures far enough from the surf reasonably to insure them against destruction. - Asbury Park Press editorial, 1944.

Tucker's Island circa 1920s
Tuckerton Historical Society

"[I]t is supposed that Reuben Tucker's house on Short Beach was the very first and oldest house on the coast of New Jersey that was opened for the entertainment of health and pleasure seekers." [1] Tucker purchased the property at the southernmost part of Long Beach, known as Short Beach, around 1735. His  boardinghouse was described as "a one-story house with a hipped roof and front piazza, standing 500' from the shore" and "elevated on a heap of sand and shells." [2]

Sportsmen from Philadelphia took stagecoaches to Tuckerton and then sailed across Little Egg Harbor to this earliest of New Jersey resorts.

19th Century chart of  Short Beach. Tucker's Island had not
yet been formed by wave action cutting it off from the
rest of Long Beach Island.

In 1868, a lighthouse was built on the island (after wave action separated it from Long Beach Island, turning Short Beach into Tucker's Island in the early part of the 19th Century). The lighthouse operated for just under sixty years. In 1927 a coastal storm destroyed most every building on Tucker's Island, and by 1950, after a 25 year period of heavy coastal storms and erosion, the island completely disappeared.

The lighthouse at Tucker's Island falls into the sea
during a storm in 1927.

The period from around 1914 to 1933 was especially difficult for residents along the Jersey Shore:


A hurricane destroyed most of the homes in Sea Bright in what was then described by a local paper as a storm that "ended, for all practical purposes, a way of life."


A hurricane carried 1/3 of Longport's land (from 1st to 11th Avenue) south where it piled up in Ocean City. After the storm, Longport built a seawall at the cost of $1,100,000 ($22,390,000 in 2011 dollars).


The Pennsylvania Railroad bridge across Barnegat Bay was submerged with 18" of water and the carcasses of boats and vessels from north of the bridge that were ripped from their moorings and had drifted south in the storm tide and winds covered the bridge from one end to the other.

Point Pleasant's Leighton Hotel, the largest int town, was undermined and collapsed as "high seas, 1,000 feet in length, rolled through the inlet and back for two blocks." [3]


A storm described by a Philadelphia newspaper as "wreaking such monstrous damage as to exceed any similar catastrophe in the last half century" [3] slammed into the Jersey Shore.

National Guardsman in Morris County helped local residents pile up sandbags to prevent a dam from bursting and flooding the town of Denville.

In Hammonton, well inland, trees were denuded by the winds, and in Philadelphia the Schuykill river rose over twenty feet above flood stage.

* * *

While the resort on Tucker's Island was able to thrive for a time, it began to decline after the railroad was completed to Beach Haven. Even though the resort fell out of favor, the little town remained inhabited and the lighthouse operated until it finally fell into the sea.

The 1927 storm destroyed all of the structures on the island and in 1950 the island slipped beneath the waves for the final time. Today, Tucker's Island can be seen at times of low-tide. Prior to Hurricane Sandy it was believed that Tucker's Island would eventually emerge from the water and become a stable landmass again. In the aftermath of Sandy, that remains to be seen.

[1] H. C. Woolman and T. F. Rose, Historical and Biographical Atlas of the New Jersey Coast (Philadelphia: Woolman and Rose, 1878), 46.
[2] Harold F. Wilson, The Jersey Shore, 3 vols. (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1953), 425.
[3] Larry Savadove and Margaret Thomas Buchholz, Great Storms of the Jersey Shore, (Down the Shore Publishing, 1993), 39 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

And...We're off!

Along with the other 1.2 million residents of New Jersey's Ocean and Monmouth counties, my life permanently changed on the evening of October 29, 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey Shore. The seventy-plus days since have been a mixture of the surreal and the all-too-real, a little hope here and a little relief there and a lot of despair everywhere else.

Starting around the beginning of December I began to see small signs of recovery while my wife and I did relief work in Union Beach. The tasks ahead were still huge but people were climbing from the wreckage and working to rebuild. The spirit of the people I met affected me far greater than the destruction around me and I soon realized that the stories of recovery in the face of massive destruction were the stories that needed to be told.

Occasionally the media will feature a story about the Shore in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but for the most part America has moved on. Meanwhile, residents of the affected areas are beginning to feel the palpable fear that the towns they lived in will never be the same. Businesses are gone and may not come back, the blocks of summer homes we all grew up with may be replaced by the larger, more sterile homes of the people who can afford to build against the fear of another storm. In short, a way of life for 1.2 million people was washed away on the evening of October 29, 2012.

Some call Sandy "New Jersey's 'Katrina'" but it is not. There are some parallels, but to simply call Sandy "New Jersey's 'Katrina'" is to minimize the affects of the storm. It's as if to say, 'sure, Sandy was bad, but it wasn't like Katrina.' The human need to compartmentalize things that fall outside of our comprehension fails us when we simply compare one disaster to another without taking into account the human beings at the core of the story.

That's what I am attempting to do with Inlets and Outlets. The Shore has not recovered, but it is recovering, and it is the journey of reclamation that I hope to chronicle over the next year or so, so the rest of the world can understand that we are indeed "open for business." It's just that those words have a different meaning than they did on October 28, 2012.