Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Save the Neptune

The Sea View Planning Board decided this week to tear down the Star of Neptune Ferris wheel at the old Ocean Park Amusement Pier. We want to hear your thoughts on this one. Sound Off, New Jersey.


1. Posted by EyeHeartNJ

This is horrible. For website visitors too young to remember Sea View in its heyday, here are some excerpts from a 2008 article from The New Jersey Dirt describing the rise and fall of this beach town:

Sea View, NJ, was a sight to behold in the 1950’s. This town, as well as several contemporaries of its era, lavished in the patriotic up-swell following World War II. A northern neighbor and would-be clone of Atlantic City in its heyday, Sea View emerged from the sand like a beach-front Brigadoon into one of the cotton candy lined boardwalks sparkling along the Eastern Seaboard.

The 1.3 mile-long boardwalk emerged from a proposal submitted to the city council in December, 1948. Financial incentives were set up for local businesses to relocate to the boardwalk. Real estate zoning contracts were inked with several major hotel chains. Amusement park czars from Coney Island and Atlantic City began bidding on the pier that would become the centerpiece of the project.

The plan was enthusiastically supported by the 400 citizens of Sea View. Within a year the boardwalk and Ocean Park pier and were built, the amusement rides and concessions were operational, and nearly every square foot of business space was leased. The resulting influx of business and explosion of jobs overflowed into the surrounding areas. Success would remain at high tide for the next quarter century.

The article described several notable Sea View families before returning to describe the fate of the town:

Sea View’s economic ascent was far exceeded by its subsequent plummet in the 1970s and 80s. Regardless of the reason, the shining surface of the town eroded like the wave-swept sand of its beaches. The boardwalk cracked and rotted, disintegrating into the sand. Storefronts were neglected. Paint faded. Windows cracked. The penny arcade palace that flanked the pier burned down and was never replaced. Instead, its charred remains were left standing amidst the demise of the entire boardwalk, the lifeblood of the town.

In 1985 the black steel gates of the Ocean Park amusement pier were permanently closed. Resort hotels, store chains, and even the original town merchants began their exodus, leaving behind the boarded-up windows and dated billboards of a beachfront ghost town.

Dry seaweed strands now blow across the fragmented boardwalk like tumbleweed in the shadows of the Star of Neptune Ferris wheel, which defiantly juts up out of the sand like the skeleton of a desert longhorn.

The Star of Neptune Ferris wheel is scheduled for demolition within the next six months, not to make way for the revitalization of Sea View, but to eliminate a safety hazard.

Some of our fondest memories involve Ocean Park pier and The Star of Neptune. Dismantling the old Ferris wheel will extinguish our childhood dreams. There must be a way to prevent that from happening. If you feel the same way, do you have any ideas?

2. Posted by CarrieCarmel

I agree. Ocean Park was my family’s favorite vacation spot when I was growing up. The Star has so many memories for me. The Sea View Gazette has started an e-petition to Save the Star. You can join in by contacting the paper.

3. Posted by DownTheShore

Thanks for pointing us toward the article, EyeHeartNJ. I also agree with your sentiments, but I see the situation as hopeless. Sadly, the most accurate comment in the article was a quote from Edgar Stahl, owner of the company that will demolish the Star: “This town needs more than just a spark to rebound its economy. It’s going to take the Second Coming of Christ, or maybe a Blessed Mother sighting, to dig this town out of its financial hell.”


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