Archive for the ‘Random Stuff’ Category

Bats Future Looks Bleak

According to this article efforts to save the little brown bat in NJ is pretty much a lost cause. They’ve lost 95% of their population since 2009 to the white-nose syndrome. I remember visiting the Bat Hibernaculum in Morris County about 7-8 years ago and it was amazing watching them swarm in (or out)… now you wouldn’t see that, they’re just not there.

Fire on Clausland Mountain near tunnels of Tweed

A fire on Clausland Mountain is finally under control after more then 24 hours. Several homes were threatened, but local firefighters were able to prevent any damage to them. The mountain is more than 300 acres of woodlands with hiking trails thru out. The mountain is home to the Bluefields Rifle range, more commonly known as the tunnels of tweed

A settlement is reached in Centralia

The story of Centralia, the town which has had a coal fire burning beneath it for fifty years is the stuff of legend. I won’t retell the story in this post but search for it in the search box and you’ll find numerous posts about it. In short, the town decided to burn its garbage in 1962 and it lit a coal vein on fire which still burns to this day. Thousands of residents moved away, the local highway was ruined and a bypass built, and now after decades of fighting, the remaining residents (all seven of them) have made a deal. They will get a settlement of 218K and get to remain on their land but upon their death the state takes it by right of eminent domain. There had long been pressure on them to sell but they resisted because of the value of the coal that could be mined once they sold. Now those issues are resolved.

When the fire will stop burning, no one knows.

Picatinny Arsenal hunts for live shells buried on neighboring property

Neighboring properties to be searched. It’s only been 84 years…., I mean, no time like the present right?

Tillie stuck in a shed?

the 16 ton Tillie remains locked in a storage shed

Tillie may have survived the wrecking ball in Asbury Park, but preservationists are beginning to worry that the 16-ton grinning icon could meet its end in storage before developers find a use for it. Packed into makeshift sheds on sewage-treatment plant property beside the Atlantic Ocean, the painted images may be in danger of decay, critics say. They point out one of the sheds blew apart over the winter and had to be replaced.

The grassroots organization that saved the image of the toothy cartoon carnival barker when the historic Palace Amusements was demolished five years ago is pressing the city and its oceanfront developers to abide by a state permit by giving Tillie a better storage place — and more respect.

But with construction projects in Asbury Park taking a hit from the foundering economy, Tillie is low on the list of priorities, prompting an appeal for Gov. Jon Corzine’s intervention.

“After 1,000 days of trying, our organization has exhausted all available avenues within Asbury Park to resolve this dispute,” Bob Crane, president of Save Tillie Inc., wrote in an April 26 letter to the governor. “We no longer believe any resolution is possible in the city.”

Formed in 1999, Save Tillie unsuccessfully fought to preserve Palace Amusements, which has been featured in several movies and a few episodes of “The Sopranos.” It was frequently mentioned in songs by Bruce Springsteen, whose musical career was nurtured in Asbury Park.

But the group was successful in convincing the city and developers to preserve sections of the building, part of which dated to 1888. When the Palace was razed five years ago, crews first removed a 16-by-10-foot section of cinder-block wall with Tillie’s image and two 10-by-10-foot portions with bumper car murals.

The sections were cited in a state Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) permit, which requires the city and developers to preserve them until they are incorporated into a luxury hotel that has yet to be built on the former Palace site at Cookman and Kingsley avenues.

Though it was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, those images, which adorned the building for about 30 years before it shut down in 1988, have spent the past five years in a storage shed on the grounds of the city’s sewage treatment plant a few dozen feet from the ocean. Without proper ventilation and a sound roof, the murals risk damage from mold and water, Crane said.

He’s urged developers to move the murals. The state Department of Environmental Protection vowed to ensure the city and developers complied with the permit. The city had set an Aug. 1, 2006, deadline for moving Tillie and the other murals.

Gary Mottola, chief operating officer for boardwalk redeveloper Madison Marquette, said he’s unsure of Tillie’s future. In the recession, developers are prioritizing their projects, and he’s not certain where Tillie fits.

“Tillie’s not an isolated thing. There are a number of things about the redevelopment that have to be revisited,” Mottola said. “Right now, Tillie is one of a lot of issues that need to be thought about in terms of how we take this waterfront.”Outside the sentiment for Tillie by some preservationists, there is nothing historically significant about the wall, he said, noting it could be recreated with materials purchased in any home-improvement store.

Even before the murals were preserved, they were chipping and peeling. Any restoration, Mottola said, would most likely entail removing the images from the cinder blocks, because they are decorated with lead-based paint now considered hazardous.

In a swipe at Crane, who lives in Maryland, Mottola said no one from the city or elsewhere in the state has expressed interest in Tillie to him.

But city manager Terence Reidy said neither argument is pertinent. The only thing that counts is the state permit saying Tillie must be preserved and incorporated into a building, he said.

“It doesn’t matter whether you love Tillie or don’t love Tillie; it’s part of the CAFRA permit,” Reidy said. “The city will weigh in and do whatever is necessary to be in compliance with its CAFRA permit.”

He said the city two weeks ago contacted the DEP about the lead paint issue and is awaiting word on whether that changes anything. No determination has been made, he said, about how the mural would be restored.

As for finding a new home for Tillie, he said, there’s a spot already picked out behind city hall on the west side of the railroad tracks. It’s waiting for the developer whenever he decides to move it.

this blog entry originally posted 6/3/09

Asbury Park considering a topless beach

article

I didn’t know that parts of Sandy Hook are clothing optional or that there is no ordinance against being nude on the beach. I don’t understand how that works when there are laws against public nudity in general though. The fact that Cape May had problems w/sexual activity is not surprising though it is disapointing. Actually it is surprising. When I go to the beach, I get sand in places I don’t want sand, and I wasn’t naked or engaging in prohibited activity. That’s gotta itch and just be generally uncomfortable. Right?

Edit: this post was published in 2010 and apparently the town has rejected the idea since then.

Another circle bites the dust in NJ

NJ’s circles being phased out, which is a shame cause the traffic circle originated in NJ. And I know some folks loathe them, but when done properly they are more efficient then a traffic light. Generally the bigger they are, the more effective they are allowing for a smooth flow of traffic. This of course takes up a larger amount of real estate, but it’s long sweeping ramps on the entrances and exits to the NJ Turnpike that helped make it the envy of toll road designers worldwide because it made for greater safety. Yeah, yeah, imagine that, something done in Jersey that folks thought was good!

The only problem is knowing whether the people in the circle have the right of way or the people coming into the circle have the right of way. Generally speaking, in north jersey it’s people in the circle, and in south jersey it’s the other way around. And I don’t think either way is necesarily right, I think it depends on the road configuration.

My experience exploring North Brother Island

If you know nothing about NBI, here is my original entry detailing the long and varied history of this unassuming island in the Bronx River. it’s well worth a read and I won’t repeat it here because this is about my own journey exploring the island. I don’t recall exactly where I first heard about it, but I had known about it for well over a year. I had researched it thoroughly, making particular note of the dangerous currents and tides. I was also keenly aware that it was very close to Riker’s Island, which presented a security issue. I certainly did not want to be mistaken for someone escaping the infamous prison. What became clear was that if one was going to go to the island it would have to be by canoe, so one could scuttle the boat on shore. After numerous aborted discussions i finally found someone w/a canoe and someone else crazy enough to make the trip. We made the trip in January 2006. It would be approximately 1,000 feet from shore to shore and I am woefully out of shape, I cant remember the last time I was in a canoe. Complicating things is the fact that the tides are vicious and the water was ice cold. There had been a nasty ice storm the night before so air temperatures were sub-freezing. I can’t imagine what the water temperature would be like. Even with a life jacket, hypothermia could easily set in before I could reach shore. If you haven’t figured it out, this journey probably ranks as the most unintelligent exploration I have ever taken.

As fate would have it, I made the trip over successfully. The island is home to numerous birds which nest there and it’s a a protected bird sanctuary. The hospital buildings are all in severe disrepair. Many stairs are crumbling and there are holes in many walls and floors. This has allowed many thaw cycles to do further damage to the facility as snow and ice have gotten inside and rotted away the wood that held it together. There are 3 main buildings as you can see in the aerial picture below from google. There was almost nothing left in any of the buildings except for rusted out desk and chairs. The one area that was most interesting was the kitchen which still had purchase orders for the patients. In here I also found a 1950 phone book. I found it amazing to see phone listings as KL5-3325. Unfortunately the pages crumbled in my hands so I could not take it home as a souvenir. We spent several hours carefully poking around, but our visit was cut short because we wanted to go back when the tides were just right. Below are several pictures, but you should really check out all the pics on flicker

a well placed telephone pole

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Hoffman Grove slowly slips away

I first wrote about Hoffman Grove back in 2006 when I explored the area after one of the homes there was listed in the paper for sale. $200K for a house in Wayne? Yeah, what’s the catch? Oh yeah… constant flooding. Read the original post for the full story, but I found much had changed since I last visited in 2008. here’s some pics. At that time the community was still vibrant and most had refused to be bought out. There was an attitude of “this is what we have to put up with” and the desire to stay was string. After several floods in 2008, the state took action and in 2009, 36 homes were slated to be bought out.. There were several bad floods in early 2011, but Hurricane irene in August of 2011 was the final blow. FEMA stepped in and most of the remaining homes were bought out.

I took a visit to Hoffman grove this morning and what I saw was depressing. There were still many homes left, but most had plywood over the 1st level windows. Some had them over the doors and garage entrances as well. Yet I could clearly see curtains and items inside the 2nd floor windows. And some had cars in front of them. After driving around several times it became clear: cars meant there was a current resident. No cars meant no one was there and never would be again. Many left behind gas grills, toys, lawn furniture and other personal possessions. Saddest of all was the sight of this flag, upside down, the official sign for distress.

here are some pictures I took, the rest are on Flickr