When fired ripped through The Gables in Beach Haven just after the dinner service Easter Sunday last year, some feared the devastating blaze would mean the end of the beloved Long Beach Island landmark restaurant.
But the owner persevered and restored the ornate Victorian to all its former splendor in time to reopen just before Labor Day. In addition to a fine-dining restaurant, the establishment offers five upstairs guest rooms that each features Frette linens, marble fireplaces, and luxury bathrooms. It was the second time owner Sondra Beninati had to undertake a massive restoration of what she calls her “Grand Old Lady” after purchasing it in 2006.
The certainty admidst the confusion continued to be the norm in New Jersey this week as the Christie administraiton continued its earlier announced policy of adopting FEMA's new flood maps as the standard for rebuilding statewide. This action, the Department of Environmental Protection said in a statement, "provides clear direction for residents as they rebuild from the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy."
That direction is as clear as the house in the photo, left: UP. But just how far up remains murky. FEMA's recently released Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps hit like its own tsunami, reassigning thousands of homes into High Velocity zones and requiring vast swatches of homes to be elevated several feet or face hikes in insurance premiums that many predicted would chase people off the island. (Something environmentalists might think is a good outcome, but Gov. Christie has not endorsed.)
One thing we can all agree on: Atlantic City should be cooler than it is. It ebbs and flows in this area, the music scene got a lot better for awhile, then sagged, Borgata and House of Blues keep the town in the game mostly. If you're into the club/d.j. scene, then A.C. gets lots of points. Bachelorettes and their entourages, in particular, seem most happy with Atlantic City. But A.C., in addition to being a casino town, is a surfing mecca. The guys behind the proposed new Skate Park tried to capitalize on this, uging the CRDA (successfully) to nurture a youthful beach vibe associated with surfing, skating and local band scene that seems to have only one venue in Atlantic City: the Boneyard at Gordon's Alley up in the Inlet. But where are the other great cool bars and venues like you might find in a place where the original Ugg nation changes out of its wetsuits on beach blocks? Ski towns have their cool divey bars and music and arts scenes where people congregate. Why not Atlantic City? The CRDA has been trying another shortcut to cool lately: encouraging artists to take up root in Atlantic City: Ducktown in particular. The Noyes museum is supposed to open up gallery space for artists on the ground floor of the Wave Parking Lot near the Outlets, and the Master Plan calls for a fullfledged Arts District in Ducktown, the closest thing Atlantic City has to an original neighborhood. In the meantime, the Atantic City Arts Commission is planning a Boardwalk Art Show in September, a juried show with $2000 in prizes, including a $400 Mayor's Prize to be selected by Mayor Langford (Gov. Christie need not apply). Organizers are currenlty soliciting submissions. More info to be found on doartac.com
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office announced Monday that more than 2,000 guns — including 14 assault weapons and 1,000 handguns — had been turned in during a state-sponsored gun buyback held at churches in Atlantic County over the weekend.
The number of guns obtained in five statewide weapons buyback programs held since December — including in Camden, Mercer, Essex, and Monmouth counties — totals 9,153 firearms, according to Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.
Among the weapons surrendered in Atlantic County were 199 illegal firearms. The weapons turned in also included 445 shotguns, 411 rifles, and 348 semiautomatic handguns. Those turning in guns were paid up to $250 per weapon.
The wreckage of a house opened wide by Sandy sits on the bay in Mantoloking.
MANTOLOKING - After arriving at a couple of reporting assignments with smeared mascara, I've learned that anytime I have to drive through the wreckage that was once among the most quaint Jersey Shore beach towns, I have to steel myself against what I'm about to see again . or I'll just completely lose it.
In 34 years of reporting the news, I've seen some horrific stuff, but nothing quite compares to the wholesale devastation wrought Oct. 29 by Superstorm Sandy. The scenes remain jaw-dropping nearly 20 weeks after the storm hit.
Along sections of Route 35 through Ortley Beach, Normandy Beach, up through Bay Head and back into this town that was once an enclave of cedar shake cottages lovingly passed down through generations of families and opulent beachfront estates one more grand then the next, the destruction is staggering.
I was in Ocean City Thursday to research a story on some folks engaged in an epic insurance battle to get reimbursed for flood damage, and ran across a bunch of homes about to be, or in the process of being raised to meet new FEMA flood map elevations. Even though it's becoming more common - and should be even more common now that Gov. Christie has dedicated a portion of the federal money toward supplementing FEMA's $30,000 maximum Increased Cost of Compliance grants - it's still a startling and downright weird sight to behold. Took about torn asunder. This house was just being prepped for the big lift; this is Tom Jones of the Hauck House Movers, who are very busy these days.
Two famous music moguls with clubs in Atlantic City made their exits known this week, both blaming damage from Hurricane Sandy for their leaving Atlantic City. But were Jay-Z (40/40 Club) and Sammy Hagar (Sammy Hagar's Beach Bar) just using the old girl as their scapegoat? Their accounts were quickly challenged by spokespeople: At Tangers Outlet at the Walk, where 40/40 was located, the general manager basically called Jay-Z's people liars and slobs who mismanaged their club into oblivion, overtaken by casino nightclubs. The 40/40 club had not been open since the storm.
Over at Bally's, Katie Dougherty discounted Hagar's description, on his website, of total destruction of the former Van Halen rocker's cool beachfront bar, which hosted the Wailers last Memorial Day to kick off a lively season, and said it was purely financial reasons that led the casino to de-brand their Beach Bar.
It was a battle of the issued statements, and here they are for your perusal:
Lots of people, and busineses, are trying to figure out how to raise and distribute money to help people (and businesses) rebuild from Hurricane Sandy (including First Late Mary Pat Christie, whose N.J. Sandy Relief fund has raised $32 million but not dispersed anything yet, see story here by Shannon Mullen of the Asbury Park Press). Flying Fish, always on the look out for a way to further Jersey-theme their product, created a hybrid wheat-pale ale that it called "Forever Unloved (F.U.) Sandy. I guess they mean Sandy will be forever unloved, but I keep thinking they mean New Jersey, which would be uncalled for. And I guess they mean to reference the hybrid hurricane-nor'easter character of Sandy by making their Sandy beer wheat-pale ale. In any case, the craft beer company announced that it was donating the $45,000 proceeds to Habitat for Humanity, Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund (See above), and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, which is rebuilding shore-area habitat destroyed by the storm. That represents 100 percent of the proceeds from the beer, which sold out its 86 kegs.
Still champ of the small businesses turned philanthropic dynamo would still have to be the Blue Wave Printing Company of Toms River, which produced a line of "Restore the Shore" merchandise and immediately began making small and large donations, cash and gift cards, lumber supplies etc., very targeted and savvy strikes of good will. To date, and you can see the full list here, they have donated a total of $468,982. Maybe they should take over the Mary Pat fund.
Inquirer staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg has covered Philly police, city neighborhoods, Ed Rendell as mayor, the Jersey shore, Atlantic City, Miss America and the psychology of Eagles fans. She moved to Ventnor on July 3, 1995, which makes her a local, but not really.
Inquirer Staff Writer Jacqueline L. Urgo has spent every summer of her life at the Jersey Shore, and has lived there year-round for nearly 30 years, even fulfilling one of her bucket list dreams by once living in a house by the sea.
Since 1990, she has covered the waterfront for The Inquirer — from the Atlantic to the Delaware Bay shore — and some of the mainland in between. Along the way, she amassed an encyclopedic knowledge of this tear-it-down-and-build-it-back-up region, delving into the history and the hype of a place with a lot of unexpected stories to tell.