Categories
bayshore Money Island New Jersey sustainability

Trouble at the shore

I am posting this reluctantly because of the danger of racial stereotyping. But we are dumbfounded to explain why more than 4 out of 5 cars of visitors to Money Island this summer season (excluding residents, workers and government vehicles) are Asians from Pennsylvania. We’ve been tracking the state source of traffic based on video license plate data at the suggestion of a regional business development group since the spring. I prepare compilations of random sample traffic data in an attempt to quantify the total traffic and the trends. The original idea was that we might use increased traffic data to request additional state funding. However, the project seems to be back-firing on us as we’ve uncovered so much illegal or controversial use. I am on site daily and do interact with or at least see most visitors. A significant portion of these visitors seem to not understand English language. This complicates the issue. The transformation of visitor demographics and behavior came suddenly and unexpectedly.

While most visitors are good guests, some cause problems either intentionally or unintentionally. At a basic level, the state has not responded to requests to supervise their adjacent property, install trash containers or portable potties. The township and county have not responded to requests to replace road signs (like no parking on bridges) town down in severe weather. We’ve offered funding for replacement signs but still no response from local government. I’ve been physically assaulted by troublemakers twice in the past year here. One of those instances was when I was breaking up a house robbery. I’ve also reached a point of frustration with those who apparently do not speak or read English, thereby providing an excuse to ignore my verbal requests (like do not park blocking construction equipment), ignore the private property signs at the commercial spaces, and ignore a range of other ordinances – not just seafood harvest rules. The original community concerns focused on harvesting of illegal fish, crabs and oysters. But it’s gone far beyond that Fish and Wildlife issue. Apparently the troublemakers also have no reservation about dumping their trash and pooping in the open on the beach. I am not exaggerating when I say that it seems impossible for such a small number of people to dump so much fast food trash. In former years the primary trash on our rural beaches was beer cans an bottles apparently from local visitors. Now the trash is almost all fast food containers brought in be the long distance visitors. Police are not useful in this situation; that’s a whole different issue. Again, it’s only a minority of the visitors who cause problems.

This year I tried a program to allow guests who identify themselves and ask for permission to use my property. But today I lost my temper with a group who has strewn fast food litter all over the property, helped themselves to my fishing and crabbing equipment and pretended to not understand what I was saying (although later one did communicate in English). It’s disturbing. This weekend the problems worsened. Yesterday one of the Asian visitors tried to con me in a crab business deal in a text message conversation. In another unrelated incident Saturday, I reported an attempted financial crime (apparently some type of bank check fraud) to state police and they declined to get involved. I didn’t fall for either of the con game attempts but it was disturbing that this is happening when it never happened before. Overall, the strategy of being a good host for visitors seems to be failing.

I know that the respectful Asian guests are embarrassed by the few bad apples and they are aware of the risks they face in racial stereotyping. Two of the Asian guests are now friends who have been coming here for a long time. I plan to ask their advice this week since they seem to have insight into some of the possibly cultural issues. But at this point I’m leaning toward cutting off all property access except to owners, their guests, and Baysave members. Any other suggestions are welcome but we will not tolerate any discussion that is based on racial profiling or an “us vs. them” mentality.

UPDATE 7/21/2021: In the days following this original post I sought additional comment and advice from multiple sources. One Asian professional friend whose opinion I respect and value in past instances confirmed that much of what I report is a cultural issue and he clarifies this is different from a racial issue. This adviser plus a couple other Asian friends say that disrespect for the environment is actually a cultural thing in Asian countries and that it carries over to some of our country’s Asian people. While almost all of my cultural peers would be ashamed to dump trash on the roadside, apparently some in this culture are not. An example came up in conversation: overharvesting of small crabs was told to be commonplace in Asia (but I did not attempt to verify this outside of our conversation). Another Asian professional friend shows his personal embarrassment with the issue but offers no solutions except the phrase “a few bad apples”. We are all clear to point out that he problem is not limited to Asian visitors. It just happens that hey make up the majority of visitors this year. The primary local Division of Fish and Wildlife officer is clearly aware of the issue and we apparently share similar reservations. I exchanged text messages with our mayor but have not spoken yet. A county official offered empathy but no suggestions. Yesterday my one neighbor and I picked up a tremendous amount of trash from the one block in front of our houses. It filled up two construction bags; more than we’ve ever seen here before. The majority of the trash is fast food containers: Wawa, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, etc. My neighbor complained to me that his family is disgusted by the smell of human urine and feces on what used to be a pristine beach. Then, last evening Lance and I took a walk down Bayview Road, something that we usually do each day but stopped when this recent heat wave came. The amount of trash on the roadside and beach is more than I have ever seen before. There is additional beach erosion from vehicles getting stuck in the sand at two places. It really made me sad and angry that the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection purchased this beach and then did not take care of it and allowed our formerly beautiful pristine neighborhood to deteriorate to such a wrecked conditions. Late last night the security system showed that there was an additional trespasser on the boat yard who bypassed security barriers. I have had time to inspect for signs of theft, trash or damage yet. I’ve not made any decision on a course of action yet but am inclined to revoke all free access to our properties; limiting only to owners, members and their guests. That won’t help address the problem of those who trespass or those who trash the adjacent state properties, so we’ve made no decisions yet. I simply do not have the money required for upgraded live security (as we had for so many years when Bruce was alive). There is a possibility of increased automated security: drones, floodlights, sirens, etc. But that would be more expensive than Baysave can handle right now. We discussed the possibility of volunteers watching the properties. That seems unlikely from a practical perspective. We will continue to look for additional options.

Categories
bayshore climate change Delaware Bay Money Island New Jersey

May 2020 sets global high temperature records

May 2020 was the warmest month of May on record 1 with global temperature records going back to 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Of the 140 years of records, all ten of the warmest Mays have been in recent years. While it didn’t feel especially warm locally, most of unseasonably warm atmosphere and water this year was felt in Asia.

Locally here on both sides of the Delaware Bay coastline it felt like a cold, wet and windy month. We were wearing winter coats outside into the beginning of the 4th week of May. Other signs in nature, like annual crab migration, wild and agricultural plant germination and marsh grass growth, indicated a delayed or slower month of May than we’ve seen in other recent years.

A male osprey perched near the couple’s nest on May 12, 2020. The meadow is still a brown color because the new growth of marsh grass is not yet grown.

1 Actually May 2020 is reported tied with May 2016 as the warmest months of May on record

Categories
blue claw crabs Delaware Bay New Jersey oysters

Response to 2019 NJDEP Annual Report of Division of Fish and Wildlife

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recently published its 2019 annual report, available at https://www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2019/ann_rprt_2019.pdf.

This response was sent to the Commissioner via email on January 14, 2020.


Catherine R. McCabe, Commissioner
State of New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Fish and Wildlife
Mail Code 501-03
P.O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420

Dear Commissioner McCabe:

I read with interest the ” Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Report for the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife covering July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019″. The report includes your opening comments: “I encourage you to read this report and learn about the great work the Division of Fish and Wildlife does.  I also encourage you to get outside and experience what New Jersey has to offer.” We thank you for your leadership and support of the Division.

It is especially  encouraging to read that one of your three stated goals: “To maximize the recreational use and economic potential of New Jersey’s fish and wildlife for both present and future generations.” Yet we notice that this annual report has some significant omissions, at least from our perspective as resident users of state resources here on the Delaware Bay.

Two of those issues are summarized below:

BLUE CLAW CRABS

New Jersey has a vibrant commercial and recreational crab industry. This fishery is not mentioned at all in the annual report. We fear that this implies that the industry’s critical issues are not recognized or being addressed at the highest levels of appropriate government. In fact, that seems to be the case: management reforms seem to be stalled.

It may be important for the NJDEP to note these significant issues about our state’s crab industry:

  1. We enjoy a sustainable blue claw crab stock.
  2. The blue claw crab fishery  is supported by local research including Rider University’s accomplished professor Dr. Paul Jivoff.
  3. Blue claw crabs are one of the few New Jersey commercial fisheries species expected to thrive and expand under the forecasted changing water conditions ahead.
  4. The last blue claw crab research sponsored and promoted by a NJDEP report was produced more than a decade ago (https://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bluecrabresearch.htm) and does not likely reflect conditions today.
  5. The commercial crab harvesting industry continues to face difficulty with the state’s harvest licensing program that remain unresolved and stalled within NJDEP despite the best efforts by the state legislature. In short, more than half of the state’s licenses are “parked”, not being used but held as a potential future financial asset. This protects the status quo, established larger harvesters, but creates a bottleneck for younger prospective watermen in the efficient distribution of licensees in areas that could otherwise benefit from sustainable increase in harvest.
  6. Unrelated to state management per se, the New Jersey blue claw crab industry is going through a period of change after the industry’s largest regional wholesaler died in 2019. This enabled some smaller crab harvesting businesses to begin exploring a dock-to-table vertically integrated expansion. Dock-to-table is generally recognized as a way to increase economic value of the fishery, along with several other benefits. It may be in our best interest to support this industry in this opportunity.

Recreational oyster harvesting

Recreational harvesting of oysters is not mentioned in the report. While we notice anecdotally an increased public interest in the hand tonging of oysters, there appears to be no state data to reflect this. The 80 page report on the “Stock Assessment Workshop New Jersey Delaware Bay Oyster Beds (21th SAW) February 12-13, 2019” (https://hsrl.rutgers.edu/SAWreports/SAW2019.pdf) does not mention the recreational oyster industry, and, as far as we can tell, does not include any sampling of stock from areas open to recreational harvest. Part of the reason is that Delaware Bay oyster stock in publicly available harvest areas has declined despite an overall increase in oysters in private lease and commercial harvest management areas. We believe that recreational oyster harvesting could be a wonderful area of expansion of outdoor enjoyment if encouraged by the state.

We welcome the opportunity for continued dialog with NJDEP, especially on these issues that are so important to our bayshore communities.

Sincerely,

Tony Novak, Controller
tnovak@bayave.org

Baysave Association
228 Nantuxent Drive
Newport NJ 08345

Categories
bayshore Delaware Bay environmental justice New Jersey

Resist!

“Resist much. Obey little”. – Walt Whitman

“Resist much. Obey little.”

It’s now been more than 30 years since I first learned firsthand the impact of government corruption, bribery, extortion and plainly bad policy execution on the deteriorated Delaware Bay shore communities. I was living and working in Ocean City, New Jersey and has some initial success is environmental justice issues in our neglected communities on the east coast by building relationships and educating elected officials on relevant issues. A property owner at the bayshore wondered if I could have the same impact here. So now it’s been more tha15 years since I’ve actively worked for better environmental policy in Cumberland County on the west coast of New Jersey. I have no positive results to show for it. I was diverted and pushed into working with federal and state law enforcement investigators instead by reporting crimes, the resulting death threats and even the investigation of a failed attempt to shut me up through attempted murder. As far as I know, none of those crimes has been prosecuted. We hear that a book is coming out soon that covers some of the wild adventure.

Baysave has accomplished much thanks to the generous support of the community. Yet our overall effectiveness was slash at the knees by disingenuous government actors that caused us to lose more time and money to fighting hostile government actions than we could have done if we worked together. By my estimate, the State of New Jersey could have purchased the entirety of Money Island at a lower cost than they will spend fighting against us and limiting the role of other agencies and environmental groups here. It is shocking, maddening, illogical, inefficient and wasteful of public resources.

Meanwhile, over the past six difficult years “Leaves of Grass” has become my most often read and cited source of literature as a source of inspiration. This week I am reminded that little has changed here in our world. There is still evidence that high-powered greed empowered by government controls us. The incidents of government bad behavior in the past month were dizzying and are still confusing. But I’m still here spreading the word; perhaps a bit more selectively than in the old days. Only by speaking up do we have any possibility of escaping the pattern of rich politically-connected individuals trodding down the rights of the majority citizens who call this place home.

Here is the full text of “To the States” by Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass:

“To the States or any one of them, or any city of the States, Resist 
much, obey little, Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved, Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever after-
ward resumes its liberty. “

Categories
blue claw crabs government Money Island New Jersey

NJ sustainable seafood hits a snag

An adverse court decision yesterday poses a temporary setback to local small seafood businesses at the Delaware Bay. The ruling will be appealed and brought to the attention of local lawmakers.

crabs in basketBaysave, along with our partners, is involved in several projects to improve the financial and business security of the bayshore region’s watermen. We recognize that environmental sustainability goes hand-in-hand with economic sustainability of the local communities along the Delaware Bay. There must be a balance in considering the needs of all stakeholders. Imbalances historically lead to disaster in all types of ecosystems.

One sustainability initiative involves the need to bring local commercial crabbers access to wider markets and better product pricing. We initiated a number of projects: a shared use storage cooler, formation of a multi-state harvesters cooperative, and online lead generation systems to connect buyers and sellers through online and social media. In 2018 Baysave engaged two professional marketing firms and several volunteers to post social media messages across a broad multi-state network to promote crabbing. Direct-to-consumer sales result in significantly higher price to the crabber. Of course, this effort is not popular with seafood wholesalers, powerful regional businesses with a reputation of using ‘muscle’ to force the crabbers into submission. The wholesaler controls the volume of harvest, the price and often acts as banker for smaller crabbers. The local New Jersey crabbers compare their industry to the feudalistic systems of generations ago using them as indentured servants who never quite get out from under the control of their dealer.

In other states these independent seafood harvesters have increased sustainability by forming cooperatives. Baysave proposed this idea and received funding in 2018. Within days the wholesaler retaliated with a complaint. Fish and Wildlife demanded to see records of crabbers who provided crabs to us last fall. The state didn’t seem to recognize that we didn’t sell any crabs at all. Even though we explained that Baysave is an online lead generator for members of the cooperative, and not a party to any transaction involving crabs, Fish & Wildlife believes that current state law does not make a distinction. If we reveal the identities of the crabbers who participate in the cooperative, they would face retribution from other buyers. Past threats against the crabbers and co-operative members are well documented but not prosecuted.

The system of feeding sales leads to crabbers worked well until yesterday. Regional Court Justice ruled that the activity of Baysave’s volunteer controller falls under the definition of persons required to keep records. Novak admits to ordering and leaving cash at the marina in advance to pay for 4 to 5 bushels of crabs over the course of the season for personal consumption at barbecues but that he did not drive to NJ on weekends where the barbecues were rained out. He suggested that the crabbers attempt to resell the crabs to minimize the financial loss. He posted messages on social media offering the crabs that were available at the marina but had no involvement in either the buying or selling transactions.

A sign advertising crabs was posted at the marina, in fact has been posted for more than a decade, advertising crabs. Fish & Wildlife does not allege that Novak had any involvement in posting the sign but apparently the law enforcement officer feels that he should be responsible for the transactions that crabbers May have conducted for the crabs that he originally purchased for personal consumption. This legal issue has never before been raised for the many decades and millions of dollars that are caught, landed, and sold at Money Island. We suspect that Fish & Wildlife is acting to protect the large wholesalers at the detriment of independent crabbers who wish to advertise and sell their crabs. This posting of signs by crabbers at marinas is a common practice statewide. We are not aware that any of the other marinas that posted crabbers’ signs have ever been prosecuted.

Fish & Wildlife Division demanded records of these transactions if they occurred. Novak had no records and no information of whether transactions actually occurred. He called the people who he suspected might have bought or sold the crabs but all denied involvement. It seems clear that they are afraid of retaliation by the wholesaler if their name is reported. F&W issued a citation to Novak for his remote role in the cancelled crab deliveries but did not cite any parties on site in New Jersey.

Judge Van Embden ruled that Novak’s actions in advertising the crabs by sharing Facebook posts made him legally responsible for keeping records of the crabs despite not taking delivery of them and having no knowledge of the identities of the crabber(s) or details of possible transactions. Novak said that he intends to appeal the ruling based on both technical errors at trial and the merits of the case.

Representatives of the new seafood cooperative met with local legislators recently to discuss the need to prevent these restrictions on seafood marketing. We believe this court ruling may provide additional support for our request for legislative action.

Meanwhile, Baysave will resume discussions with our state legislators on the need to change the state law to protect off-site seafood sales lead generators. This will help our local crabbers who do not otherwise have access to the type of online marketing support that a cooperative can offer. The cooperative lead generation system is working well for crabbers in Delaware and Maryland. We think it is just a matter of time until New Jersey clarifies it’s applicable law. In the meanwhile, Baysave will focus only on out-of-state fisheries products and will not promote any New Jersey fisheries product.

Categories
Delaware Bay New Jersey sustainability

300 word summary of Baysave

We were asked to provide a 300 word summary of Baysave as part of the on-boarding process for a community project. Here it is so far (revisions are likely):


The professionally written version:

BaySave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association formed in 2010 and based at Money Island, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Past projects include living shoreline stabilization, oyster shell recycling, marina repair and management, crowdfunding, educational programming, and community seafood events. Baysave was cited by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection for exemplary dune grass replanting projects.

Baysave is registered as a New Jersey charity with a mission of advocacy, stabilization, restoration, and sustainable economic redevelopment of the Delaware Bay and communities along its shoreline. Baysave operates in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania with some programs reaching Maryland, New York City, and Virginia. Our unique value is in making measurable progress toward common goals by bringing together recreational users, environmentalists, commercial watermen, elected officials, and community leaders. This allows us to combine the resources of diverse stakeholders in government, industry, nonprofit, and education.

In 2018 Baysave received funding from the NJ Community Capital THRIVE Grant for the redevelopment of the local recreational crabbing industry to provide infrastructure, marketing innovation, and an organizational framework to operate as a cooperative with greater autonomy and opportunities. Those efforts continue into 2019.

Our 2019 priorities are: 1) influencing New Jersey legislation and regulations associated with sustainability, fisheries and aquaculture management, 2) transitioning local commercial and recreational marinas into compliance with existing state regulations, and 3) expanding funding sources to meet the remaining unmet requirements for existing partially-funded projects.

Baysave is proud to be a member of the Millville Chamber of Commerce and the Vineland Chamber of Commerce. We are grateful to have received assistance from the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, the NJ League of Municipalities, and the NJ Society of Certified Public Accountants. We have also been offered a site license for long term projects to a coalition of environmental groups led by The Nature Conservancy.

 


 

BaySave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association formed in 2010 and based at Money Island, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Baysave is registered as a New Jersey charity with a mission of advocacy, stabilization, restoration and sustainable economic redevelopment on the Delaware Bay and communities along its shoreline. Baysave operates in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania with some programs occasionally connecting to Maryland, New York City and Virginia. Our unique value is in the ability to combine the resources of diverse stakeholders in government, industry, nonprofit and education in making specific progress toward common goals by bringing together recreational users, environmentalists, commercial watermen, elected officials and community leaders.

Past projects include living shoreline stabilization, oyster shell recycling, marina repair and management, crowdfunding, educational programming and community seafood events. Baysave was cited by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection for exemplary dune grass replanting projects.

In 2018 Baysave received funding from the NJ Community Capital TRIVE Grant for the redevelopment of the local recreational crabbing industry to provide infrastructure, marketing innovation and an organizational framework to operate as a cooperative with greater autonomy and opportunities. Those efforts continue into 2019.

Our 2019 priorities are: 1) influencing New Jersey legislation and regulations associated with sustainability, fisheries and aquaculture management, 2) transitioning local commercial and recreational marinas to comply with existing state regulations, and 3) expanding funding sources to meet the remaining unmet requirements for existing partially-funded projects.

Baysave is pleased to be a member of the Millville Chamber of Commerce and the Vineland Chamber of Commerce. We are pleased to have received assistance from the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, the NJ League of Municipalities and the NJ Society of Certified Public Accountants and offers a site license for long term projects to a coalition of environmental groups led by The Nature Conservancy.


The website is www.Baysave.org. Contact controller Tony Novak at 856-447-3576 or tnovak@baysave.org for more information.

Categories
Money Island New Jersey sustainability

What’s ahead at Money Island?

We are excited about the future of Money Island, New Jersey as a host site for a wide range of bayshore users. In the fall of 2018 the Money Island Marina was closed for permitting and redevelopment and all but two of the houses on the eastern side of the island are being removed. By spring 2019 an expanded natural area will take their place. We expect to host new research projects and are planning for expansion of new private uses for 2019 that do not require government permitting. Government is considering the addition of a “welcome center” at the site of the marina but no deal has been reached yet. Meanwhile Baysave will continue many of membership-based activities that are consistent with the new planned uses of Money Island. We anticipate a decline in recreational fishing but an increase in overall tourism and an increase in other types of recreational boating activities.

Over the next few years most of the houses on the western side of the island will be removed while commercial operations expand in the creek. Money Island will dramatically grow in both financial importance to regional aquaculture.

Since 1990 we’ve lost about half of our dry ground at Money Island due to rising water and sinking land. We’ve taken dramatic action to address it: installation of a 440 foot seawall, redevelopment of stronger commercial boat docks, raising of the roadway and parking areas, rebuilding key infrastructure. Now we must embrace the inevitable future of higher waters. Future community planning will be water-based rather than land-based. Wet flood proof facilities and mobile infrastructure are already the standard for new projects here. That shift in reality will require massive change in thinking that will pose challenges to traditional systems and government.

Money Island NJ

Recreational boating activities have been in decline here for many years. Over the past eight years he marina was partly supported by Baysave’s charitable donations (mostly from me and my family) until the state ordered the facility closed in 2018. Because of slow progress on required engineering and permits. We have previously proposed converting to a state marina like Fortescue State Marina. That would allow us to pay an annual lease fee that is based on revenue rather than the current unworkable charges for permitting, property taxes and tidelands lease fees that are much larger than the marina’s maximum possible revenue. Another proposal is to operate like Spring Garden Marina that replaced its floating docks with a boat lift. Both of those options have been proposed as long term solutions for the marina but first we need to resolve current community planning issues.

Commercial aquaculture is at the beginning of a boom growth phase. We could easily see Delaware Bay production grow by ten-fold or twenty-fold simply by adopting simple technology widely used in the Chesapeake Bay. We don’t want to give the impression that Money Island is “going away”. It will certainly be different, but will remain an important part of this region’s culture and economy.

Baysave remains committed to serving a wide range of user groups ranging from sightseers, bird watchers, dog walkers, recreational fishing, commercial netters, oyster harvesters, crabbers, recreational boaters, research groups, and many more. We recognize the challenge in keeping everyone happy and welcome your input into our future.

Categories
Delaware Bay Money Island New Jersey sustainability sustainable redevelopment

Baysave announces 2019 environmental priorities: permitting and plastics

At its December 2018 meeting, the Board of Directors of Baysave Association resolved to take additional steps toward cleanup and legalization of previously abandoned properties at the New Jersey bayshore. The resolutions include an approach to federal and state government permitting and an approach to addressing plastics in local waters. These two programs – permitting and plastics – will be the focus of Baysave’s 2019 environmental agenda.

A strategy to approach permitting on a site-by-site basis was approved to allow us to partner with, sell, or gift land to others who may have similarly aligned environmental and sustainable community redevelopment interests. It is unclear whether the NJDEP and NJ Attorney General will agree to this plan since in the past the department has taken an unusual “whole community” approach at one cleanup location and has declined pre-permit requests for addressing individual site cleanup issues. The Controller is authorized to lobby local and state government to support this more practical cleanup approach.

A plan was approved to remove waste plastics that are already in our waters as well as to reduce overall future reliance on plastics in the future. This past year the NJ Fish and Wildlife bureau and some Baysave members noticed a problem with plastic shell bags used in oyster reef restoration.  We will discontinue the use of these bags on our sites and advocate for their replacement in other sites. The board resolved to commit funds and volunteer labor to remove Styrofoam floats from the water and replace the Styrofoam with more sustainable materials. This program will need additional funding. The Board authorized its Controller to seek additional grant funding for this project.

Baysave renewed its commitment to run its multi-user facilities at Money Island New Jersey provided that funding is available through future grants. The former Money Island Marina community is being converted to a nature preserve through combined action of the NJDEP Blue Acres Program and the NJ Attorney General. Public access will continue to be based on membership, however support for boating and docking activities is discontinued until and unless allowed by law.

For more information, contact Tony Novak, Controller, at tnovak@baysave.org.

 

Categories
bayshore climate change New Jersey sustainability

Goodbye Bayview Road

Tomorrow my neighbors’ houses on Bayview Road at Money Island NJ will be torn down by a state contractor. Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t ask me “Why?” Yet even with as many times as I had to respond to this question, I still don’t have a neat concise answer. More disturbing, I don’t have an answer that I really believe. Some former homeowners here would say they were unable to handle the high costs associated with rising water levels. Others, like our mayor, call it “NJDEP terrorism” as the state threatened massive fines against us without offering any source of funds to address the new environmental challenges. At least a few of my former neighbors would say they were just scared away by what they saw happening around them.

I still wonder about the thought process that went into my neighbors’ thinking about selling and moving out that caused them to act differently when negotiating with the state compared to what they told me in person when we talked last. I was surprised  and apparently the local government was equally surprised that 100% of the neighbors across the bridge elected to sell their properties. The overall buyout completion rate is 80%, according to NJ Blue Acres office, indicating that normally a few houses remain after a buyout. It might have had to do with the bridge itself that was badly corroded and appeared to be collapsing prior to the buyouts. Ironically, the bridge repair and seawall construction were completed after the buyouts were planned.

No doubt this is am emotional and sad time for many. Looking at the photos, I think of the happy times I’ve had as a guest in many of these neighbors houses in earlier times.  I also think of the few neighbors who later blamed me for causing the state to acquire these houses.  I try to not think too much about the bizarre events that led to death threats and even an attempt on my life by an angry neighbor and a politician for my role in trying to preserve this community.

After tomorrow only two houses will be left on Bayview road. My home office is one of the two and this site is proposed as a research/educational facility for the future. The only reason these two properties were spared the devastating impact of higher and more violent wave action is because we are protected by a half million dollar sea wall, sand berms, and more sturdy pilings that elevate the buildings.

Many other questions come up at a time like this. Is the state’s strategic retreat policy sound? (Surely we can’t afford to relocate our entire New Jersey coastal population inland!)  Will we be besieged by another round of ‘disaster tourists’ after the tear downs (like after Sandy)?  Or will the area’s use as a nature preserve bring positive change? Will the state step up it’s legal harassment against the two remaining homeowners?  How will we cope with wilder wetter weather and the flooding ahead? What physical accommodations will be necessary to accommodate higher water levels and more damaging erosion?  Will my floating barge-based infrastructure construction designs  gradually become accepted under state regulations or will  I continue to clash with the older dry land building codes? We just do not know the answers to these questions yet.

We do know that the future of Money Island is bright. It is the region’s second most productive seafood landing port. The local seafood industry is now entering a significant growth phase based on new technology and changing water conditions. Money Island remains an important research and recreational spot. Millions of dollars are being spent here to sustain and redevelop the area in a sustainable future.

We also know that we won’t be the last residential community to grapple with these strategic retreat questions related to the removal of homes. I just wish we weren’t among the first to have to figure out where to go from here.

Categories
bayshore New Jersey sustainability

NJ building code change applies to bay structures

In March of 2018 the Uniform Construction Code was modified to exempt many types of minor work from permitting requirements. This is important because many bay structures do not qualify for building permits. Find the details here.

This change in building permit requirements does not affect other laws like CAFRA and NJDEP requirements.