Beachwood Downtown Revitalization and Community Involvement

Carpetland Memorial Day

For some time now, the Beachwood Historical Alliance has actively pursued a sweeping downtown revitalization in conjunction with the upcoming Ocean County Rail Trail project and borough centennial. To this end, we have applied – with cooperation and support from borough officials, residents and many business and property owners – to become an affiliate of the Main Street New Jersey program.

Taken directly from their website, the MSNJ program “provides selected communities with technical assistance and training of proven value in revitalizing historic downtowns. The program helps municipalities improve the economy, appearance and image of their central business districts through the organization of local citizens and resources.”

This program holds four tiers of community membership, of which affiliate is third. If chosen, becoming an affiliate would provide us with training, communication support, and inter/intra state-level advocacy to utilize directly and immediately within downtown Beachwood while preparing us to apply for the highest tier designation at their next application period in 2011. This advanced tier would more completely aid in the downtown project through stronger and more inclusive training and support within the promotion, economic restructuring and design aspects of downtown Beachwood.

To better inform why an historical organization or anyone at all should care about our downtown, we encourage you to take a moment and read information from Solutions for America, a “civic problem solving” site. All of the elements of downtown revitalization described therein are dead on to our downtown and its needs and possibilities. Of particular note is their statement that “research shows that a healthy and vibrant downtown boosts the economic health and quality of life in a community. Specifically, it creates jobs, incubates small businesses, reduces sprawl, protects property values, and increases the community’s options for goods and services. A healthy downtown is a symbol of community pride and history.”

The best way to preserve our borough heritage is by breathing in it renewed and perpetual life through projects such as a comprehensive downtown revitalization program.  Placing pleasing photographs from the past on a website and encouraging the independent preservation of borough buildings, while enjoyable, is largely passive and only one facet of what we think is possible both through the Beachwood Historical Alliance and the borough at large.

Beachwood itself began as a sort of good-faith gamble that succeeded only due to the initial community pride it fostered. This bond, inherited by subsequent generations, propels us forward through these tough economic times, political battles, social issues and environmental dilemmas yet will dwindle if left unattended. Right now, our downtown properties are suffering from this destructive form of progress and social dwindle, and it can be seen as plain as (for some) their deteriorated exteriors as it can the regular winking in and out of businesses that bloom and fade within months of opening.

Our downtown and general borough businesses need our support, today. Please solicit them often and whenever possible. Right now we are being offered an almost total clean slate to recreate a vibrant downtown through the availability of the Carpetland corner site for purchase as well as the former Disbrow’s Market/Clancy’s Video building and former Clancy’s Video/Clutter storefront for rental (among numerous others up and down the Atlantic City Boulevard/Route 9 corridor). Where many see blight, we see opportunity.

Some ideas:

Photo by Bob Bielk of the Asbury Park Press.

Photo by Bob Bielk of the Asbury Park Press.

Photo by Bob Bielk of the Asbury Park Press.

Photo by Bob Bielk of the Asbury Park Press.

Photo by Bob Bielk of the Asbury Park Press.

Photo by Bob Bielk of the Asbury Park Press.

A well thought out destination business in the Carpetland (former Circle Shop and currently for sale), something like a Surf Taco, would do wonders for the downtown social activity and foot traffic. Not only is it virtually the downtown cornerstone, it also has its own parking lot, can support upstairs professional offices (and is primed for a renovation to meet all needs and become doubly self-sustaining for  a new owner), is within a five minute drive of Toms River South to accommodate those carloads of students on lunch, is within short walking distance of our public waterfront (meaning any rail trail patrons walking down to use the beach, docks, parks or community center would have to walk right by) and can fantastically utilize the original structural design elements.

CLICK HERE to read an August 30th, 2009 Asbury Park Press article on Surf Taco

CLICK HERE to view the property listing for Carpetland

CLICK HERE to view Surf Taco’s website

asian restaurant

watersports

bookstorefront

bookstore

The former Clancy’s Pharmacy/Clutter Shop store -

What about a quality sit down Asian restaurant?

A combination active recreation store for skateboarding, biking, surf/body boarding, kayaking, fishing plus their associated clothing lines, etc?

Art Gallery/Antique/Used Book store that holds regular events and utilizes eBay and the general internet for better sustainability?

mold store front 1

Disbrows

The former Disbrow’s Market/Clancy’s Video -

What about a music instruction business utilizing the wide windows to attract passerby by allowing them to see the more accomplished (or not yet accomplished) musicians hone their skills?

Or how about reinstalling a market/cafe that also delivers and allows one-click online ordering?

As you can see, tons of potential, open ideas, and a bright future if stewarded by the right individual(s)/group(s) and especially aided by being 1) a solid destination business and 2) a multifaceted operation that uses alternating (and alternate) means for revenue: walk-ins, traditional advertising, word of mouth, social networking, internet site and auction, etc.

~

I encourage anyone with an interest in forming or restoring the bonds of a community to consider joining  and volunteering within our organization or any other borough organization, from the recreation commission to our volunteer fire and first aid companies; the Friends of the Beachwood Library to the soccer club and little league. Or, better still, if you can think of a need you can help fill, consider starting your own proactive organization, whether it be a chamber of commerce, civic society, or merely a group of neighbors that simply walk around picking up or clearing out litter from time to time.

Beachwood Borough will survive to see many other days. The question of how it makes it through the rough spots and challenges lies entirely with you – the resident, the student, the business owner, the passerby.

Erik Weber
Beachwood Historical Alliance

The Beachwood Historical Alliance holds monthly meetings on the last Thursday of each month at 7:00pm in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Cable Avenue in the borough. All are welcome to attend. The next meeting is on September 24th.

Disbrow’s Market, 1938 – Enhanced View

Due to a high number of inquiries and requests, we’ve taken the previously posted image of Disbrow’s Market interior from 1938, enhanced its visual quality and blown up details of it for better view.

In addition, you’ll find a story on the market as told by longtime resident Geoff Brown.

Disbrow's Market, 1938. George Disbrow (l) and Fred Combi.

Disbrow's Market, 1938. George Disbrow (l) and Fred Combi.

George Disbrow (l) and Fred Combi stand behind the counter at Disbrow's Market, sometime after 1:30pm in late 1938.

George Disbrow (l) and Fred Combi stand behind the counter at Disbrow's Market, sometime after 1:30pm in August 1938.

The market scale sits behind loaves of white and rye bread while packs of Disbrow's Coffee sit on the meat counter nearby.

The market scale sits behind loaves of white and rye bread while packs of Disbrow's labeled coffee sit on the meat counter nearby.

The deli case contains your everyday deli meats and cheeses, along with prepared orders as lamb stew.

The deli case contains your everyday deli meats and cheeses, along with prepared orders as lamb stew.

A Heinz display offers products "For the Majesty - Your Baby".

A Heinz display offers products "For the Majesty - Your Baby".

An ad for Miracle Whip leans against the wall above the store.

An ad for Miracle Whip leans against the wall above the store.

An assortment of canned goods sits on the deli counter beneath the wall clock.

An assortment of canned goods sits on the deli counter beneath the wall clock.

The billing at the Toms River Community Theatre includes "Professor Beware", "Sky Giant" and "Gangs of New York", all released in the late spring and summer of 1938. The Community Theater building can be found across Toms River Town Hall on Washington Street; today it houses an assortment of businesses.

The billing at the Toms River Community Theatre includes "Professor Beware", "Sky Giant" and "Gangs of New York", all released in the late spring and summer of 1938. The Community Theater building can be found across Toms River Town Hall on Washington Street; today it houses an assortment of businesses. (Special thanks to Ocean County Library's Elizabeth Cronin for pointing out the month - August - in tiny detail on this billing)

Disbrow's Market, as seen nine years later in February 1947. Today it sits vacant waiting for a new life.

Disbrow's Market, as seen nine years later in February 1947. Today it sits vacant waiting for a new life.

From Geoff Brown:

I was born in 1944, so it was well before my time. However, I do remember the meat case at the back of the store and the other walls with shelves almost to the high ceiling. It was a marvel to see the Gibsons pluck cans and boxes with a long pole “grabber” and catch whatever it was as they filled customer’s orders. My mother wrote out her “weekly order” for me to bring up to Disbrow’s every Thursday. The youngest Gibson brother would deliver it some time before noon in a black Chevy panel sedan (station wagon without side rear windows). “Disbrow’s Market Beachwood N.J.” was painted on each side. It was before noon because they knew we went to the beach every day at 1 o’clock.

“I was also sent to Disbrow’s for items such as bread between orders. Milk, eggs, juice, etc. was delivered by Bert Davis from Home Town Dairy. We didn’t have a washing maching at the Beachwood house, so once a week the laundry was picked up by Beachwood Laundry & Cleaners (corner Brigantine & Atlantic City Blvd.) and brought back clean and folded. They left it on the back porch with the bill.

“One more thing. Before there was mail delivery, we’d wait for the train whistle in the morning (time ?) and know it was time to walk to the Post Office / Train Depot to pick up our mail.”

Snapshot of the Past: Disbrow’s Market, 1938

Today we turn back the clock 71 years, to 1938.

That year, with Franklin Roosevelt as president, our nation experienced a recession that pushed the unemployment rate up to 19%, saw Germany continue persecuting Jews, seize Austria and occupy Czechoslovakia (an occupation that was later approved by the British government and their prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, who for fear of triggering world war ceded to Hitler’s demands and infamously declared “Peace in our time.”), and a national hourly minimum wage rise from 40 to 44 cents per hour.

1938 was also the year that book publisher Simon and Schuster was established; the March of Dimes (for fighting polio) began operating; the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York opened; Superman debuted; a time capsule to be opened in 6939 was buried at the World’s Fair in New York; a September hurricane battered the East Coast and killed 700; and Orson Welles broadcasted his infamous “War of the Worlds”  program, panicking the nation.

And from this year, courtesy Joan Disbrow-Morris, we have a photograph of George Disbrow, her father, and Fred Combi behind the counter at Disbrow’s Market on Beachwood Boulevard.

George Disbrow, left, and Fred Combi stand behind the counter at Disbrow's Market, Beachwood Boulevard, 1938.

George Disbrow, left, and Fred Combi stand behind the counter at Disbrow's Market, Beachwood Boulevard, 1938.

What Things Cost in 1938:
Car: $700
Gasoline: 20 cents/gal
House: $6,400
Bread: 9 cents/loaf
Milk: 50 cents/gal
Postage Stamp: 3 cents
Average Annual Salary: $1,700

Main Street Beachwood – Important Notice

Circle Diagram

As many readers of this site may already be aware, the Beachwood Historical Alliance has been engaged in the application process to bring the statewide Main Street program into our borough.

This program, if approved, will bring in a multitude of benefits for our community, all of which involve restoring and reenergizing our main street corridor/area, from the gazebo (original train station site) down Beachwood Boulevard to the waterfront and including the Atlantic City Boulevard/Route 9 businesses.

Clancys Dusk

More information on this program can be had by clicking here: http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/osg/programs/msnj.html

As a vital part of the application process, the state has required we collect letters of support from past and current community members, leaders, business owners, et cetera. To this end, you will find attached a letter that may be quickly and easily filled out. You are also invited and encouraged to write your own, should you choose.

These letters may be dropped off at the Beachwood Library during normal operating hours (Monday 1-9, Tuesday & Friday 1-5, Wednesday & Thursday 10-5, Saturday 10-1) or mailed to our post office box at Beachwood Historical Alliance, P.O. Box 3, Beachwood, N.J. 08722. Additional options may be available over the next few days; announcements will also be made here.

All letters must be received no later than September 7th in order to make our September 9th application deadline.

Beachwood Train Depot, July 21, 1950 by Edward Weber

Beachwood Train Depot, July 21, 1950 by Edward Weber

We sincerely hope you can take just a few moments from your day to fill this out and send it in, and also possibly get a copy to a neighbor or friend.

The Beachwood Historical Alliance thanks you for your support and looks forward to serving the borough and its residents through future heritage-minded programs and directives as the Main Street New Jersey program.

LETTER OF SUPPORT

Please copy and paste into word processor for printing and submission

September 2009

Erik Weber
Beachwood Historical Alliance
P.O. Box 3
Beachwood, N.J. 08722
732-664-1043
beachwoodhistoricalalliance@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Weber:

Restoration and reengagement of our community with the heart of the borough remains an important link to both our past and future. The dual opportunities of the Main Street New Jersey program and Ocean County Rail Trail project present an extraordinary chance at making this dream become reality.

As Beachwood Borough stands alone among the waterfront communities of the Toms River (let alone the majority of the state of New Jersey) in having an intact downtown that ties our residential areas to such nearby public trusts as the rail trail right of way, beachfront, large passive/active recreation waterfront park, docks and community center, I am in full support of the Beachwood Historical Alliance and Beachwood Borough’s application to enter into the Main Street New Jersey program.

I acknowledge that the Main Street New Jersey program is a contract between state officials and local residents, businesses, property owners, officials and interested parties to work together for the betterment of New Jersey and its multitude resources beginning on the local level, and as such am interested in serving the following MSNJ Beachwood attribute(s) (circle one or more):

 Board Member

 Project/Event Organizer

 Project/Event Volunteer

 Goods/Services/Funding Donations

 Other (describe here):______________________________________

The reenergizing of our shore communities, each of which contains unique culture and recreation for our local and statewide residents, represents a positive direction under guidance by such programs as Main Street New Jersey. Bringing this wonderful curriculum into Beachwood Borough through the Beachwood Historical Alliance will surely benefit our current and future generations by supporting a bright future so deeply ingrained in our cherished past.

Sincerely,

Name:
Title and/or Occupation (if applicable)(optional):
Contacting Address:

Phone and/or E-mail Address:

Signature__________________________________________