Category Archives: Local Life

A look, in photos, of latest area events, local everyday people and places.

Park to Keep Riverfront Space Open in Fair Haven

By Elaine Van Develde

“It’s been a long, arduous process,” Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli said, “but sooner than later locals will have a park on the riverfront to call their own.”

The mayor and other local, county and non-profit officials brought the decade-long concept one step closer to fruition on Friday when they gathered to commemorate Fair Haven’s acquisition of the property on the Navesink River at the end of DeNormandie Avenue.

Officials have eyed the 6.9-acre $1.2 million swath of land as future passive recreation facility for years now, since the tenure of former Mayor Michael Halfacre. However, for one red-tape reason or another, it’s taken a persistent fight and many avenues of grant acquisition to keep the land that was intended by its owners to remain in the public trust just that — and at the right price.

In the end, taxpayers are contributing $200,750 for the property, “most of which has already been budgeted for,” the mayor added.

The remainder of the funding was allocated as follows: NJ Blue Acres Grant Program paid for the bulk, or $608,750 of it; the Monmouth County Open Space Grant Program kicked in $250,000; and, most recently,  the non-profit Monmouth Conservation Foundation contributed $100,000.

In order to procure the grant money, the borough needed to commit to certain conditions: the home is to be demolished; a passive park with riverfront access must replace the home; there are to be no impervious surfaces; and the park is to be named after the property’s founding family, the Robards with a plaque anchored on the site giving a brief history of the family. The timetable, starting with the demolition, for all of this is slated for the spring of 2015.

This way, it’s guaranteed to be the borough’s “to enjoy for future generations going forward,” Lucarelli said. Once property is acquired as open space, using state, county and non-profit funding, it must stay just conserved as such.

That was the aim of local officials and the property’s original owners from the onset — to keep riverfront access open so that future generations can enjoy growing up Fair Haven style.

Frequently, the mayor has talked about how he grew up in Rumson with “sand between my toes.” The riverfront has been a mainstay for most who have grown up in the area, though the price and taxes of owning property on the riverfront is staggering for those of modest means — as were the Williams and Robards families, whose relatives had made the property their home since the 1850s.

For that reason, Lucarelli said, the descendants of Charles Williams — the free black man of his time who built his home and settled his family at foot-of-DeNormandie spot — felt that if they must sell the property, it would be their wish to preserve it as open space for all to enjoy rather than cloister it as an elite private property.

The most recent owners, the Robards descendants, whose family had lived in the spot since 1855, knew that as well and, for that reason, wanted to keep it open to the public.

“Winifred Robards (who lived there since 1855, when she was 3) was known to invite kids onto the property to play and enjoy it all the time,” Lucarelli said.

Soon enough, they and future generations will.

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The Start of Sea Bright Rising

By Elaine Van Develde

It was about this time two years ago that Woody’s Ocean Grille Owner Chris Wood and Head Chef Onofrio Muscato saw an immediate need to help the hungry, cold and displaced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

So, they just pulled out the grill and started flipping burgers, eggs and anything else they could to serve up some comfort to the superstorm’s victim. Before long, the U.S. Army National Guard was sent to set up camp and help. Word spread and soon there was a parking lot full of mess tents, food trucks, clothing bins and more.

Sea Bright Rising was born.

Two years later, Sea Bright Rising has brought in $1.3 million and distributed $1 million of it, Wood said recently. And the organization is not done yet. Many more of Sandy’s victims are still displaced and Sea Bright Rising wants to help.

Check out the non-profit’s website at seabrightrising.org.

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Sandy’s Slam to the Fair Haven Waterfront

By Elaine Van Develde

Fair Haven was a luckier victim of Hurricane Sandy’s penchant for whipping up the floodwaters. But neither the dock nor the marina and little beach at the end of DeNormandie Avenue quite stood up to it.

The water level rose above decks and it’s stormy strength ripped up chunks of the borough’s iconic landmarks while it tossed debris all over the place in both spots.

It’s all been put back together since. But, this is what the area at the end of DeNormandie looked like then. Today’s weather brings a hint of it all back.

Fair Haven Dock after Sandy ripped out chunks of it. Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven Dock after Sandy ripped out chunks of it. Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Donovan’s Sandy Demise

By Elaine Van Develde

When the superstorm stopped, it plopped Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright down in pieces.

People of the Rumson-Fair Haven area mourned the loss to an unforgiving Sandy. And when they were allowed to travel over the bridge into Sea Bright, many diehard loyalists of the Donovan’s summer tiki tradition by the sea could be found sitting and just staring at what once was piled in a heap feet away from its spot of origin.

After surviving rumors of commitment to rebuilding, a sale and total obliteration flipping back and forth, Donovan’s owners have announced that they will be rebuilding. This past summer, though, one non-functional Tiki hut marked the spot. Until next season …

Here’s what the demise of the popular spot looked like in 2012, just after the storm …

All photos by Elaine Van Develde, not previously published

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Happy Halloween! Enter the R-FH Area at Your Own Risk!

By Elaine Van Develde

From a former Haunted Mansion ghoul, and your founding editor of Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect, Happy Halloween and may you get yourself a good scare and give one, too!

There’s a mad scientist gatekeeper of sorts at the corner of River Road and Church Street in Fair Haven that we couldn’t resist featuring as a sort of Halloween host. Look for him tonight.

And while you’re trick-or-treating, remember, from this trained monster, that all good ghouls know how to give a good scare (all in fun, of course).

So, for the adults, here are a few tips:

• Play your part with heart. In other words, believe who you are for the night and other tricksters will believe it all, too.

• Give ’em a good stare-down. If you can stay in character without cracking a smile, you can send people screaming into the night.

• Give ’em a good shock scare. After staring them down, when they least expect it and think all is calm, prove them wrong and give a good scream, hiss or thump, followed by something your character would shout out.

• A good evil laugh as they run is always a fun follow-up.

Most of all, don’t try this at home unless you’re an adult or a kid supervised by parents who love the same sort of Halloween fun.

And, above all, have FUN and stay safe! Remember the area rules from police.

As, Haunted Mansion ghouls say, “I’m scared o’ you!” Happy haunting!

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Rumson Rocked by Sandy

Rumson's Piping Rock Park after Sandy blew through. Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Rumson’s Piping Rock Park after Sandy blew through. Photo/Elaine Van Develde

By Elaine Van Develde

Remember what things looked like around town two years ago?

While the low-lying areas of Rumson were smacked the hardest by Hurricane Sandy, trees were felled all over town.

They brought wires down with them as they crashed onto various mainstay structures. Piping Rock Park, near the high school, was no exception.

Meanwhile, in the West Park section, no one could get in or out. But, from a distance one could see that the water and wind parked all sorts of debris from Sea Bright on Rumson land along the Shrewsbury River.

There were boats, cabanas and more.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Retro Pic of the Day devoted to looking back on Sandy.

Looking Back at Sandy Sights

Sandy's block from the bridge to Sea Bright. Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Sandy’s block from the bridge to Sea Bright. Photo/Elaine Van Develde

By Elaine Van Develde

It was two years ago that Sea Bright and low-lying parts of Rumson were ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Even after the wind and rain stopped and the Shrewsbury River and ocean parted and drifted back to where they belonged, people were put out of their homes and there was no getting into or out of Sea Bright.

The U.S. Army’s National Guard was called in to help.  Sea Bright residents lined up for a shuttle to take them for a small window of time to grab integral belongings from their ruined homes.

Rumson police and the guardsmen blocked the bridge and food, hot beverages were served as emergency clothing was doled out.

It was a surreal scene for all involved.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect will feature Sandy photos for the next two weeks, until the lights came back on at the time in the Rumson-Fair Haven area.

 

Rumson Revs Up for Halloween

By Elaine Van Develde

Not only is Halloween approaching, but it’s also a historic time of the year for people in the Rumson-Fair Haven area — the second anniversary of Sandy, the superstorm that crippled the coast.

So, as Rumsonites ready for Halloween, it’s also hard to forget Sandy’s wrath. That was certainly scary enough.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect found few decorations in the borough. Take a look and alert us to more (evd@rfhretro.com). In the meantime, notice one Shrewsbury Avenue resident’s creative take on the anniversary and Halloween combined.

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Photos by Elaine Van Develde

Halloween Parading in Rumson & Fair Haven

By Elaine Van Develde

Sunday was the day for all ghosts and ghouls in Rumson and Fair Haven to parade their holiday personas.

Both boroughs hosted the fall festivities on a crisp, sunny day. Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect paid a visit to both.

Take a look at our slideshow of the two events combined. Click on the arrow in the center of the photo below and enjoy!

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Sunny COA Beach Sweeps

 

By Elaine Van Develde

It was a great day to not only sun, but sweep the beaches.

Clean Ocean Action, spearheaded by Rumsonite Cindy Zipf, held its fall beach sweeps on Saturday; and, the weather cooperated quite nicely.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect caught up with sweepers in Sea Bright.

Take a look at slideshow below for a glimpse into the sunny sweeps day.

 

R-FH Area’s Halloween Celebrations

By Elaine Van Develde

OK, Rumson-Fair Haven area friends and fans, there will be festivities to celebrate Halloween this weekend!

First of all, there’s a Fair Haven Halloween Egg Hunt, yes an egg hunt, at the park at Sickles School on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. We have no idea what this really means, other than that Mayor Ben Lucarelli said today that “it’s an opportunity to gather everyone at one spot to celebrate Halloween.”

In addition, the borough is hosting its annual Halloween parade on Sunday at 2 p.m., starting at Knollwood School on Hance Road. Line-up starts at 1:30 p.m.

Also on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. is the Rumson Halloween Parade and Party at Victory Park. There will be all sorts of activities and festivities. Line-up is at 3:15 p.m.  There will be a costume contest and prizes and a Mad Science Slime-Making Booth.

Have fun, friends and fans! I’ll see you at the festivities! In the meantime, I offer you a … BOO!