Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Businessman Drives Beach Theatre Into Ground, Now Threatens to Make it a Flea Market

Bruce Frank has turned a business dispute about saving a piece of Cape May history into a personal vendetta. At least, that's the impression I get from today's article in the Cape May County Herald.

Why do I think this businessman has made this a personal crusade? Let's review relevant portions of the article.

CAPE MAY - The Beach Theatre will never again operate as a movie theater, according to Bruce Frank, president of Frank Investment, building owners.

Here, Frank makes it clear that no matter how much money the Beach Theatre Foundation offers, he will not sell the theatre. In his mind, it will never be a theatre again.

The story goes on:

A lower court decision handed down in July 2011 by Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong determined the Beach Theatre Foundation lacked technical legal "standing" to intervene in what the group claimed was an illegal and collusive settlement of litigation between the City of Cape May and Frank Investments, Inc.

The foundation charges the city revived an expired demolition permit and circumvented administrative hearings before the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment by a vote of City Council.

"We believe the judge made a factual ruling that was well founded," said Frank. He said Armstrong's opinion was "scathing" of what the foundation had done and "bordered on violating our civil rights and rights as a property owner."

Having read Judge Armstrong's decision, I would like to know where Mr. Frank thinks Judge Armstrong said that the Foundation had violated his civil rights as a property owner. I invite Mr. Frank to submit the quotes from the decision which say anything along that line.

Frank said he believed donors to the foundation were being misled that the building may once again be used as a movie theater. "Even if we were denied, if they were to prevail, I am not obligated to sell the property," he said. "So, it's never going to be a movie theater again."

Again, Mr. Frank demonstrates that this is personal to him. If it was simply a matter of good business, then he'd be willing to sell if the price was right. But it's not a matter of business. He has personalized it.

Frank said donations to the foundation would not save the movie theater. "Even if they prevail, it just leaves a block building there," he said. "It doesn't mean that that block building can't be used for anything else that's commercial."

"It could be a restaurant, it could be a flea market, it could be vacant, it could be nothing," he continued.

Here, Mr. Frank threatens to turn a prime piece of Cape May history into a flea market or nothing at all. Threats are not good business.

Frank said he believed the foundation was trying to convince donors that it could buy the property "on the cheap,"and open a movie theater.

What Mr. Frank believes about the Foundation is irrelevant. The Foundation has a website and regularly sends out correspondence and press releases about its goals. It is clear what the Foundation wishes to do, and several of the people involved with the Foundation have a long history of working to make Cape May the special city it has become.

On the other hand, it is quite unclear what Frank wishes to do. Is he going to put a flea market there? A boutique hotel? Condos? Nothing? Who knows? Over the years, Mr. Frank has proposed all of these alternatives. Meanwhile, he continues to own what is the biggest blight in Cape May. He must be very proud of what his stewardship has wrought. He drove a successful business in the heart of the City into the ground. Quite a businessman.

The article goes on:

"We're just not planning on selling it," said Frank. "We'll continue to just utilize it as it is, it's an income generating property."

Here we see that Mr. Frank is quite happy to just leave the vacant Theatre sitting there, where it sits in the heart of the promenade section of town and casts a dark cloud all around it. One has to wonder why the City's leaders would make a deal with someone who obviously does not have the best interests of the City in mind.

He called it a delusion that the Beach Theatre Foundation would buy the building and reopen the theater.

Use of the word "delusion" again evidences that this is a personal matter to Mr. Frank, not a business matter.

"We're under no obligation to sell," said Frank. "It could sit there through eternity whatever it is."

Again, Mr. Frank makes more threats.

The article ends with this:

Frank said he was "at least pursuing an end" while the foundation "had no end."

Mr. Frank has it entirely backwards. The BTF certainly has an end in mind. They want to restore the Theatre to the grandeur it had originally, before Mr. Frank took possession of it and reduced it to blight. No one has any idea what end he has in mind. He has thrown out many possibilities for the property, but who knows what he'll really do. Based on his quotes in this article, there is only one clear end for Mr. Frank:

Sticking it to the Beach Theatre Foundation.

To reiterate: one has to wonder about the wisdom of the present City leadership and its decision to get in bed with Mr. Frank.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where'd the Jetty Go?

The above photo is a snapshot from the Surfer's View webcam of the Cove. You'll notice that the jetty at the end of the beach is all but buried under the sand. You can see a bit of it sticking out from the sand but for the most part it's hidden from view.

I can't say I've ever seen this area look quite like this before. That lifeguard stand is located where the ocean would usually be sloshing around. I wonder how long this will last? And if anyone remembers the Cove looking like this, please remind me of when that time was.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Post-Hurricane Videos

Chris from Cape May Point was nice enough to take videos as he drove and walked around town, and then to share them on the web:

Sunset Beach:

The Harbor area and into town.:

Washington Street:

Riding around the Point (Chris, wear your seat belt!):

Beach Drive to the Cove:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Mid-Afternoon Update Post Irene

The Governor announced that the Parkway is open going Southbound as of 1pm. I understand 47 and 55 are also open, although I'd be careful about downed trees, etc.

I can't answer definitively whether you have power, if you are a property owner in Cape May. I can tell you that around 20k people don't have power in CM County, per the power company about 30 minutes ago. But the Ugly Mug is opening at 5pm -- so you know the Mug has power. And anecdotally it sounds like power was not lost much on the island, other than briefly. But again -- that's anecdotal. I don't know with certainty.

And for the many people who ended up here looking for webcams, I can tell you that just about all of the Cape May webcams went down early yesterday and they were down throughout the storm, best I can tell. Unfortunately. Even though the power didn't go out much on the island, my understanding is that if the power even blinks on and off, the cameras have to be re-set. And obviously, re-setting webcams was not a priority during the hurricane.

Thanks for visiting.

Post-Hurricane Boardwalk

Photo courtesy Casey Smith, manager and waitress at The Ugly Mug.

Early Reports Look Good

I don't have any photos to post yet, but word from Cape May is that the town did not suffer much damage at all. Reports are that the harbors look good, as well. I will post more info and photos when I receive them. According to this AC Press report from one hour ago, access to the barrier islands (which would include CM) remains restricted.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Updates 7pm Saturday, August 27

If you're watching the news, or watching social media on the net, then you know that the hurricane is starting to say hello to Cape May. The best way to follow updates on the hurricane is via Twitter - you could start with my Twitter feed over there to the left, and then you'll see that I re-tweet comments from people who are in Cape May now, or close to people who are in Cape May, or local media, or what have you. But in terms of new news out of Cape May, here's a great video by Chris Bezaire, a realtor in Cape May. He just put this video together at around 6pm today:

Irene Weakening?

A look at the Irene forecast and winds as of this morning indicates that the storm has become a bit weaker since yesterday. That gives more reason to hope that the storm will not have the powerful winds when it reaches CM that were feared this time yesterday. Flooding and power outages, of course, are still a serious concern. Remember: Katrina did not really "hit" New Orleans -- it landed many miles away from New Orleans. It was the storm surge and flooding associated with Katrina which caused the disaster that we will always remember. So nobody's out of the woods yet -- it's just there's a bit more reason to hope for less damage than feared.

Here's a few leftover preparation photos from yesterday for you, courtesy of Colleen Bolger:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Don't Be Mean, Irene & Big House on the Beach: Boarded Up

Here's a few more Jack Wright photos for you...

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

Getting Ready for Hurricane Irene

Benches gone? No problem, just bring your own chairs!

Good sense at Good Scents

Popcorn? Anyone?

Nothing to Collect Today

all photos credit Jack Wright of Exit Zero

Cape May Acme Prepares for Irene

I don't think it's really open

Thanks to Jack Wright for the photo...more to come

Irene Evacuation: Ways to Monitor Cape May From a Distance

Cape May County is under a mandatory evacuation order so I expect if you're reading this you are reading from out-of-town -- either as a shoobie who loves Cape May or a local who has had to leave everything behind and is now praying for a last-minute turn away from our favorite city. To that end, this post includes links to cameras and radio stations. I will update as I find more.


As of Friday morning, August 26th, here are the webcams and whether they are working:

STRIPERCAM.COM -- this is the granddaddy of Cape May webcams as far as I know. There are a few webcams here. When you click on that link, you likely are brought to the webcam that overlooks Cape May Harbor. Alternatively, you may be looking at a view from the top of the Jetty Motel, looking at the Lighthouse. Regardless of the view, to the left of the webpage you'll see a link for "Live Shore Cams" -- click on those words and you'll find links for both the webcams I just described, as well as links to webcams that overlook Cape Island Creek, Wildwood, Point Pleasant, etc. As of this morning (Friday), the Striper Cams for Cape May are WORKING.

The Surfer's View: The Surfer's View website provides webcams for all over Jersey, including the Beach in front of Marquis de Lafayette HERE and the Cove right HERE. The Cove camera is particularly good b/c it scans from the end of the Promenade to the wetlands to the right/south of the Jetty Motel. In other words, it's not a static view -- it changes. These cameras are working as of Friday morning.

There is a La Mer webcam but it is not a streaming cam, it takes a snapshot every ten minutes or so. As of this morning it looks like it's not working - the view is from 8/22/11 (last Monday).

If you want to see the view from Wildwood, the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce provides three different webcams at this link. There's a camera looking at the boardwalk, one looking at the Ferris Wheel, and one pointing at the beach.

Ben Miller, Cape May and Exit Zero historian (no relation), passed along this link that collates many if not all of the beach webcams in South Jersey. Thanks, Ben!


Two Cape May County radio stations, Fun 106.7 and 98.7 The Coast are broadcasting a steady stream of local hurricane news as of Friday morning. The links are working as of Friday morning. The stream is the same broadcast on both stations, as they are owned by the same entity.

WIBG.FM, 94.3 on your radio dial, is now based in Atlantic County but they tend to focus on Cape May County. As of this morning they are broadcasting live.

That's a start. I know I will be watching and listening, hoping to hear and see good news. If you know of additional places to get Cape May news live, send it to me and I will post the links.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Not a Good Outlook

The computer models have consistently shown Irene hitting Cape May on Sunday morning. Keep in mind that if the 'cane hits land before reaching CM, landfall does unpredictable things to hurricanes. But Governor Christie appears likely to order evacuations in the next 12-24 hours. Having been caught in hurricane evacuation traffic in the past, I suggest that if you have a place to go you just go there now so as to beat the traffic. In the meantime, I will continue to update. And in my next post I will provide links to the different webcams in Cape May that will allow you to watch the surf at least until the power is knocked out. The webcam links are on the leftside of the page but I will put the links in a post sometime later today, as well.

1:07 Thursday, August 24th, 2011: Waiting for Irene

5AM Update on Thursday August 25

The 5am tracks for Hurricane Irene are not good. I recommend checking out WeatherUnderground, I will be out of pocket for the next several hours. If you're in Cape May, I recommend getting prepared as if the hurricane will come close enough to knock the power out, etc. Not saying it will happen, but it's much more likely today than it seemed yesterday at this time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"how hard is hurricane irene going to hit cape may?"

When the search terms that bring someone to your blog are "How hard is Hurricane Irene going to hit Cape May?," you realize that things are looking a bit bleak for our favorite little beach town. This morning I remained optimistic that Hurricane Irene would end up well east of Cape May before reaching the southern Jersey area. I had followed the hurricane closely since Sunday, and the models consistently moved it further and further east each time they updated. Unfortunately, as of the 11pm update it looks like the models are now consistently showing Irene veering dangerously close to Cape May. There is a gap between Irene and Cape May -- that's good! -- but it's not as big a gap as any of us will like.

Although I am not as optimistic about significant movement to the east as I was this morning, it's still possible. The hurricane remains almost four days out from CM. Let's hope the eastward track begins again. (Note: some forecasters like John Bolaris are seeing a slight westward trend). I will try to follow up tomorrow morning, perhaps after the 8 am update.

This post written at 11:10pm on Wednesday, August 24th. Keep that in mind if you're reading it for the first time on Thursday morning or even later in the day.

Hurricane Irene Headed East?

Although not out of the woods yet, the above graphic from WeatherUnderground.Com suggests that Hurricane Irene will not directly impact Cape May. It remains to be seen if it still will have some lesser impact on Cape May -- if the eye passes close enough, I suppose it could. But as a longtime close-watcher of hurricanes, I have to say that this storm looks like one that will continue to move more and more east as the models update. I hope I'm right on that one. To that end, I will note that 48 to 72 hours ago, the models showed the storm drilling South Florida. Now, Irene has no interest in Florida. Thankfully!

Again, nothing is certain. During the crazy hurricane season of 2004, there were hurricanes that did all sorts of wacky things. One did loop-de-loops in the Atlantic and hit Florida twice, for instance. Another hit Florida and then parked itself over the state for about three days.

But the more typical hurricanes, at least since I've been watching, take a track like the current one, and the track gets moved east and east until it no longer hits the States. I'm hoping that this one does not hit the OBX, or Cape May.

This blog originally posted at 8:56 a.m. on Wednesday, August 24, 2011. Keep that in mind if you're reading it later today, or even Thursday.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Remembering Harry Hirsch

Harry Hirsch, heroic survivor of Auschwitz and the man behind the Montreal Inn, recently passed away. Here's his obituary.

Say not in grief 'he is no more', but live in thankfulness that he was.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cape May Time Machine

Love this photo. Cape May New Jersey Avenue looking north/east, circa 1980. You can find the photo HERE. Thanks to Eric Gould for posting the photo from his slide collection.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wedding of the Sea Ceremony Marks Catholic Feast Day in Cape May

Kelly Schwark, a freelance photographer located in the Hudson River Valley, brings us a fantastic blog post about the recent Wedding of the Sea ceremony that marked the Feast of the Assumption of Mary on August 15th. The photo above is one of the many beautiful photos that Kelly posted to her blog about what must have been a very moving ceremony. She describes the ceremony very well for those of us who could not be there.

I have featured Kelly before in my Twitter feed b/c she has taken many beautiful photos of Cape May this summer, and shared them online if you knew where to look. I recommend checking out her blog and website. If you're in the Hudson River Valley, why not consider her for your next family photo?

Photos from Mary procession down Ocean Street to the beach courtesy of Kelly Schwark.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sunset on a Saturday Night

I can't find anything blogworthy so I'll just share this gorgeous Cape May Point sunset with you.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lots of News Today

The Beach Theatre Foundation announced yesterday that it intends to appeal the trial court's decision to disallow its effort to intervene in the now-settled lawsuit between the City of Cape May and the Beach Theatre owners:

Cape May, N.J. (August 18, 2011). The Beach Theatre Foundation, Inc., a not-for profit entity dedicated to saving and restoring Cape May’s historic Beach Theatre, announced today it was filing an appeal with the Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court from a lower court ruling allowing that structure to be demolished. The lower court decision handed down in July 2011 by Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong found that the BTF lacked technical legal “standing” to intervene in what the group claimed was an illegal and collusive settlement of litigation between the City and the current theatre owner, Frank Investments, Inc., reviving an expired demolition permit and circumventing administrative hearings before the City’s Zoning Board of Adjustment over demolition.

I believe in the BTF's goals and wish the principals behind it the best of luck.

In other news, NBC40 reports that the state may begin removing the Parkway traffic lights next year.

As the summer ends, the monarch butterflies head Cape May's way. If I remember right, last year was a banner year for the butterflies, and it really was an amazing sight.

And finally, here's a good follow-up article on the Army Corp of Engineers' planned effort to fix the slope of the Cove beach in order to reduce spinal injuries.

If you're looking for things to do this weekend, here are a few ideas.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lower Township May Host 9/11 Sunset Beach Ceremony

The Hume Family has suggested that Lower Township take over this year's flag ceremony on 9/11. The Shore News Today reports:

LOWER TOWNSHIP – Sunset Beach is known for its daily flag ceremony, in which, at sunset, it lowers the flag that flew over the beach that day – and, each day, it is the casket flag of a United States veteran.

Marvin Hume, whose family owns the commercial part of the beach, is known as the heart and soul of the daily ceremonies.

For nine years the Hume family also has sponsored a Sept. 11 program, attended by local officials, residents and visitors.

Monday night, Marvin Hume’s daughter Sharon invited township council to take over the Sept. 11 ceremony, and council indicated that it would be pleased to take a look at what is involved.

The flag used at the Sept. 11 ceremony is that of Paul Cancini, a firefighter who died in the first tower down on Sept. 11, 2001.

“That was his favorite place to go, with his wife and children,” Sharon Hume told council. “It was his wife who approached my father …. about flying Paul’s flag.”

“We’ve been flying it ever since, and we’ll keep flying it until her children are ready to let this go,” she said.

But the day has become so large that the township should consider taking over the event, Hume proposed.

Her family empties out the Sunset Beach parking lots for the day each Sept. 11 to make way for the crowds and special guests, she said.

“This is not about making more money,” she said, noting that her family’s businesses do little business with the parking lots closed. “This is about honoring what happened.”

“They’ve done an outstanding job,” Councilman Glenn Douglass said of the Humes. “To me, it’s probably one of the best programs put on for Sept. 11 in our county.”

It's hard to believe that ten years have already passed. I suppose NYC, Washington DC, and the field in P.A. where Flight 93 crashed will provide the national pictures that we watch on the anniversary. But I expect few places in this world will honor those we lost with more dignity, and solemnity, than Cape May Point and this year's 9/11 Sunset Beach ceremony.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Let's All Go to the Theatre

Philly.Com makes it two days in a row on the blog by featuring both the Cape May Stage's Steel Magnolias and the East Lynn Theatre's Dorothy Parker shows. This review is mostly positive, which you'll see if you check it out for yourself.

Cape May Stage photo courtesy Cape May Times.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Philly.Com Features Cape May

Philly.Com has two good articles that I should feature. First, you can find a funny article about how many of the men in Cape May probably felt while the national lifeguard championships were going on right here. And a few days ago, the paper published a very nice feature on the new Chalfonte book, which you can read here.

The Chalfonte painting pictured here is by William Hoffman, Jr.. Click on his name to be taken to his website and see more of his artwork, many of which are for sale.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

News, Blogs, & Churches

Great article in the AC Press about successful Cape May businesses right HERE. The article includes good stuff from Cape May's recently re-elected Chamber of Commerce President John Cooke.

Nice rave about the Lobster House right HERE.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What to do this Weekend, and etc.

Want to know what to do this weekend in Cape May? CLICK HERE, then click on the new Exit Zero magazine, and then thru the magic of this thing we call the Internet turn to page 9.

Margaret Montet has a nice, in-depth article (as far as blog articles go) about the different architectural styles you'll find in Cape May: HERE. She has a pithy description of the Inn of Cape May's architectural style (that's the hotel pictured above, f/k/a the Colonial).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Beach is Alive with the Sound of Music (and pancakes, too)

If you're in town, keep in mind that Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music is scheduled for the free Beach movie tonight at 8:30pm. It will be shown where the old Convention Hall used to sit (approximately). That should be fun.

I should've posted this yesterday but work got in the way. The AC Press ran a great story on Uncle Bill's and the rest of the O'Hara family -- the people behind the Uncle Bill institution. Can't recommend this article enough.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shep on Fishing

Shep on Fishing is one of my favorite regular columns in the AC Press. "Shep" is Mike Shepherd, the retired sports editor of the Press. I recommend checking out his column regularly to find out what's biting and where.

Shep usually includes a comment about CM Point fishing, which gives me an excuse to use this photo from the Point at Sunset.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Miniature Golf Down the Shore

Great story about some South Jersey miniature golf courses in today's Atlantic City Press. The new mini golf course in town, up near Swain's, gets a mention in the story. But no love for my favorite course, Ocean Putt. Or Stockton Golf, a long-time Cape May institution. Still a good story though.

No love for Stockton Golf in the Press, so at least it gets a photo here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

St. Peter's Bazaar This Morning

St. Peter's Church in Cape May Point is having a bazaar this morning from 9am to 1pm. That means you can buy some good stuff there for very little money, and the proceeds go the Church -- win-win! St Peter's is at 102 Lake Drive -- from Cape May just head down Sunset Drive towards the concrete ship. But then take a left on Lighthouse Drive (like you're headed to the lighthouse) and then a slight right on Lake Drive. Thanks to Chris at Cape May Point for the heads up.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fievel & Treasure Island

If you're in town tonight with the kiddies, you can't do better than movies on the beach. Head to the promenade, bring your beach chair, your Off! spray, and have fun watching both An American Tail and the Disney classic Treasure Island.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Busy Week

It's a very busy week this year, as the first week of August usually is. The National Lifeguard Championships begin today in Cape May, and runs until the weekend.

And the Queen Maysea Pageant is tonight at the elementary school.

Friday, it's the 79th Annual Baby Parade. Line up and judging starts at 10, but get there early ("there" = Congress Hall area).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Best of Cape May 2011

Hard to believe it's only the Seventh Annual. Seems like I've been filling this CapeMay.Com survey out for at least a decade. Anyway, to vote you want to click here. To see last year's results click here and the year before that click here. Best of Cape May is just what it sounds like: you vote on best hotel, best restaurant, best beach, etc.... It's fun. Go do it.

Image courtesy CapeMay.Com

Monday, August 1, 2011

Louisa's ~ A Small But Special Restaurant in the Heart of CM

If you are looking for a romantic restaurant that does not get the press that the Merion Inn, Ebbitt Room, Peter Shields and Washington Inn get, then you should make a reservation at Louisa's. HERE's a portion of a nice review from The Artful Diner:

It is always an interesting experience to pay a return call at a restaurant one has previously visited -- especially if a significant period of time has passed -- checking out the changes that may or may not have transpired in the interim. I first reviewed Louisa's Café over nine years ago; and, in the ever-volatile, ever-pulsating world that is the New Jersey dining scene, it does one's heart good to realize that there are still a significant number of enduring -- and endearing -- culinary constants alive and well out there.


Louisa and her husband began cooking 29 years ago, just after the couple graduated from college. And there is absolutely no question that they march to the beat of a decidedly different culinary drummer. But if you're in the mood for a meal that is fresh, funky & fun, at prices that won't put a major dent in your wallet, you owe it to yourself to pay a call at this excitingly eccentric eatery... I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

Louisa's is on the Washington Mall, at 104 Jackson Street -- if you're in the Mall and looking south at Jackson, Louisa's is on the southwest side of Jackson. By/behind the Children's Shoppe, as you can see from the photo below, which is courtesy the GoingtotheShore website. Louisa's: I highly recommend it!