Saturday, April 30, 2011

Strathmere Improvement Association Newsletter - 4/29/11

In this issue: Strathmere Is Coming Back to Life; School Elections; Bertha's Alley; Beach Erosion; Pedestrian Safety; Health & Welfare


We are seeing lots of signs of the approaching summer season. Frank's boats are in the water; almost all of the trailers are back; the Deauville is now open seven days a week; Mildred's is open three days; Twistie's and Uncle Bill's will open Mothers' Day weekend; and La Fontana, which is having a new septic system installed, is hoping to open Mothers' Day weekend (they are also opening a new restaurant at 50th Street in Sea Isle).
As you may have seen here on the Strathmere Blog, the Strathmere Motel has been sold and is undergoing extensive renovations with plans to reopen in May.


School elections were held this past Wednesday. The Upper Township school budget of $22 million was defeated 1064 to 773 (58% against) and the $9.5 million bond question to renovate the middle and primary schools was defeated 1076 to 713 (60% against). The Township Committee will now have to decide what to do about the budget. The School Board has not decided how to proceed with its plan to replace the elementary school for $38 million.


Upper Township honored Bertha Wittkamp (our former Secretary Debbie Vandergrift's Aunt) by naming the alley south of West Seacliff after her. Bertha was the first baby born in Strathmere and lived here her entire life. See story with more details here. Our thanks to Sam Baker and Carol Baker for making this honor happen!


If you get the Citizens' Newsletter, you probably saw these two pictures taken by Ted Kingston. The first was taken just after the beach replenishment and the second last month. The loss of beach over that time is clearly shown.

October 6, 2009...

March 17, 2011

With that loss and full moon tides coming in late April, we sent additional pictures and questions to the Township Engineer, with the following responses:

Monday, 4/11 (to the Township Engineer)

Last week a couple of guys stopped in at the library here and asked for "City Hall". When informed it was over in Petersburg, they admitted they just wanted to use the bathroom.
After doing that, they said they worked for FEMA and had been down checking the beach. They said that money had been appropriated to restore the beach from storm damage, but that we never picked up on it and now they will have to re-apply. What's going on? Did we actually lose the money? Looks like we really need it.
These pictures were taken at Seaview around 1:30 today - about one hour before high tide, which is predicted to be only a 3.0 foot high tide.

As you can see, the ocean has washed away a huge amount of beach at Seaview, and that bank is rapidly approaching the snow fence and dune grass you installed.
Next week (Friday, 4/15 to Thursday, 4/21 - full moon is 4/17) they are predicting high tides of from 4.6 feet to 5.3 feet, with four days of high tides over five feet - and that's with no storm or northeast wind! That's two feet higher than what you see here.

Is there some (legal) way you can move some sand from the huge beach at Webster, where presumably the sand is going, up to Seaview to prevent damage there? Seems like a shame to lose what was built and planted there....


Response (Tuesday, 4/12):

We have been watching the several small storms and full moons continue to erode the beach at Seaview.
Regarding the FEMA funding, we have not lost any funding from the storms last year. We have been waiting for FEMA & the State OEM to tell us that the disaster funds were authorized and we would be reimbursed. Because of the new federal disaster declaration for the December 26 & 27 Blizzard, the funding from the earlier storms will be rolled into the newer storm declaration.
We are hopeful that we will receive authorization from FEMA and the State OEM for a beachfill project in the fall.
We will be having discussions with the NJDEP and USFWS about moving sand but we need to consult with them because of the piping plover nesting season. There is already one pair starting to nest in the natural area and there was one other pair looking near Williams. IF the second pair does nest near Williams it will severely limit what we can do.
If you have any other questions please let me know.


Our reply (Friday, 4/15): (to the Township Engineer)

I don't know about the piping plovers, but here's how Seaview looked at high tide this (Friday) evening. You've already lost one line of snow fence and there should probably be some kind of "hazard tape" to keep people from wandering off that cliff at the end of the path... If we get the (now) predicted seven-foot tide tomorrow evening we'll lose lots more.

Tuesday, 4/19 - (to the Township Engineer)
Now that the beach access at Seaview is closed because of the storm damage, will the Township be doing work to get that access opened again?


Response, Tuesday, 4/19

Probably not because of the nesting birds. We will continue to monitor & take steps as necessary if erosion worsens.


Currently, beach access at Seaview is closed


Crosswalks: The Township did place several of these pedestrian warnings on Commonwealth, and they seem to be helping to "calm" traffic.
In the background, you can see County work going on to improve drainage along the bridge approach. That contract is also supposed to include a marked crosswalk at Williard when the other work completes.

Health and Welfare: Our SIA President Butch Vandegrift underwent major (six-hour) surgery on April 13 at Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia. He is now recovering slowly but surely at home. We all wish Butch the very best!

The Strathmere Improvement Association includes all owners in Strathmere and Whale Beach and many visitors. It was founded over 50 years ago as a community organization with the simple objective of making Strathmere a better place. We are proud of the organization's many accomplishments over the years.

Once again, thanks for your continuing support!

Butch Vandegrift - President
Linda Bateman -Vice-President
Donna Diefenderfer - Treasurer
Dorothy Addario - Recording Secretary
Ken Weaver - Corresponding Secretary

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bertha Wittkamp Alley in Strathmere!

Last night the Upper Township voted 'Yes' on our request to rename the alley that runs from Commonwealth to Bayview between Wintrhop and Seacliff, in honor of Bertha Wittkamp, who was the first baby born in Strathmere and lived here her entire life until her death in 1991.

The following story appeared in the Atlantic City Press online. I want to note a few mistakes in the story up front though.
Under her photo on the AC Press website, it states that she "was the only resident to have been born and lived in Strathmere her entire life" - Her younger brother Harlan Wittkamp was also born in Strathmere and lived here his entire life too.
Later it says "Wittkamp and her younger brother, Harlan, attended a one-room schoolhouse off Commonwealth Avenue that later became her cottage home. The Township Committee named the alley behind the cottage after Wittkamp."  They did attend the one room schoolhouse in Strathmere, but Bertha never lived there. Bertha's cottage was a boathouse on the family's Winthrop property that was coverted to living quaters. The alley that is being named for Bertha runs behind that cottage, not the old schoolhouse.
Also, parades were not held specifically in Bertha's homor. She rode in several 4th of July Parades in the 1980s as 'Strathmere's First Baby'

Below is the story from the Press of Atlantic City -

Posted: Monday, April 25, 2011 11:44 pm

Upper Township honors Strathmere’s ‘first baby’ by naming street in her honor By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer

UPPER TOWNSHIP — Township Committee on Monday named a road in Strathmere after the late Bertha Wittkamp, who lived all of her 89 years on the island.

Wittkamp was the first baby born in Strathmere in 1901, a time when few homes on this island overgrown with beach plums and salt hay had electricity or indoor plumbing.

Her family moved to this oceanfront section of Upper Township — known then as Corsons Inlet — in the 1880s from Philadelphia. Wittkamp’s father worked for West Jersey Railroad, which had a rail line that stretched through neighboring Ocean City to Strathmere.

Wittkamp’s parents built a hotel called the West Jersey Cottage next to the rail line. The hotel served fishermen who were drawn to the island for its reputation for “channel bass,” said Samuel Baker, who studies township history.

Wittkamp’s father ran the hotel and served as the railroad’s bridge-tender and Strathmere station master.

“When she was a child, she broke her arm and had to take the train to a doctor in Ocean City,” Baker’s daughter, Carol, said.

Life on a secluded barrier island could be difficult. Residents largely were at the mercy of coastal storms and blizzards.

“They were hard stock,” she said. “That’s just how they were raised.”

Wittkamp and her younger brother, Harlan, attended a one-room schoolhouse off Commonwealth Avenue that later became her cottage home. The Township Committee named the alley behind the cottage after Wittkamp. For decades, residents in Strathmere called it Bertha’s Alley.

She worked at the Woodbine Developmental Center, a public home for developmentally disabled men, for 20 years. And she worked as a nurse at a hospital in Sea Isle City.

She was a member of the local Methodist church. Despite the island’s privations, she remained very social, Samuel Baker said.

His family bought Wittkamp’s property but allowed her to live in the back cottage until her death in 1991. In her later years, the township celebrated Wittkamp’s faithfulness to the island with parades. And the township named a Strathmere Beach Patrol boat after Harlan Wittkamp.

Samuel Baker said he thought the street would be a fitting tribute. He and several Strathmere residents suggested the idea to the committee.

“We wanted something to remember her by,” he said.

Wittkamp was buried at a cemetery on the mainland in Dennis Township, having spent virtually all of her days on the island.

Contact Michael Miller:


Read the story here - Upper Township honors Strathmere’s ‘first baby’ by naming street in her honor

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Strathmere Motel and some beach videos

Let's start with the positive first. In case you didn't hear, the Strathmere Motel sold over the Winter! The new owners took possession and they starting to fix it up and it's already looking better. On the outside, they replaced shingles and painted. They've put in new windows and doors and now they've started painting the trim dark green, along with the new exterior doors.
I don't know if work has started inside yet, but I hear that the plans are to paint the rooms and get new carpet and new beds. The sign in the window says that they plan to be open sometime in May.

Now the not so good. We had a pretty rough storm last night and it washed out more of the ocean side of the point, which had already been gradually washing out since last June .

The first video below is straight out on the Point, looking north and side to side. The bay side has washed out a little, but towards the ocean the point is really starting to wash out in an angle, towards the bay.

When you go out to the beach from Seacliff, the beach is really looking bad. The video below is rough, sorry. It was windy and I couldn't see what I was filming due to the glare on my camera screen. Two guys where out there, they appeared to be fixing or doing something to the split rail fence at the Seaview entrance. The dune there was washed right out from under part of the fence, leaving it hanging in the air. A lot of pilings are showing again, some more than 3 feet. There is about a 4 foot cliff-drop from the dune at Seaview and north from there.

South from this point, the beach and dunes still look good. For now.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Strathmere Improvement Association Newsletter - Tidal Flooding Predicted Saturday!

The National Weather Service has issued a Coastal Flood Watch for tomorrow, Saturday April 16.



Note that "Moderate" tidal flooding can be pretty high along Bayview. It's one-up from "Minor" which covers that street and many driveways....
Do not leave your car along Bayview Drive in normally flooding areas tomorrow evening!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Street named in honor of Bertha Wittkamp - from the Upper Township Gazette

from the Upper Township Gazette -

Street named in honor of Bertha Wittkamp

Written by Staff Reports
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 14:04

STRATHMERE – Township committee voted at its last meeting in March to name the alley that runs from Commonwealth Drive to Bayview Drive, between Winthrop Road and Seacliff Road in Strathmere “Bertha Wittkamp Alley.”

According to a letter sent to committee members by Strathmere residents, Wittkamp was a lifelong resident of Strathmere. Her parents Gus and Carrie Wittkamp came to Strathmere in the late 1800s and owned the West Jersey Cottage, a hotel that used to be bay front on Winthrop Road.
Gus was also the station manager for the West Jersey Railroad train stop in Strathmere.
Their daughter Bertha was born in the West Jersey Cottage in 1901, making her the first baby born in Strathmere. Her brother Harlan was also born there two years later; the township has already named a lifeboat after him.
Bertha and Harlan attended the one room schoolhouse in Strathmere. The family owned and ran the West Jersey Cottage from the late 1880s to the 1940s. Bertha’s niece still lives year-round in Strathmere.
Bertha was a nurse who worked at the hospital in Sea Isle City. She lived her entire life in Strathmere telling of when it was covered in beach plums and cows grazed freely. She also remembered when soldiers were stationed in Strathmere to patrol the beaches during both World Wars, according to the letter.
She lived her entire life on Winthrop Road, first in the family hotel, then in the hotel annex next door, and then finally in the boathouse on what will now be called “Bertha Wittkamp Alley.”
Over the years, many people in town referred to her as ‘Aunt Bertha’ and she rode in an antique car in the Strathmere 4th of July Parade, honored as being the first baby born in Strathmere.

Bertha passed away in 1991.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Schiavo Library: April 2011 Newsletter

Schiavo Library: April 2011Newsletter

April Events:
April 10-16 - National Library Week
April 12 - National Library Workers Day (thank a favorite library worker!)
April 13 - Snapshot Day (statistic gathering to show a typical day in the libraries of New Jersey)

What’s Happening at our Library:
We’ve added more shelving and lots of books and DVD’s.
Look at our new section of the library – our TEEN ZONE! (Tweens also welcome!)

Some of Our New Titles:
The Silent Season of a Hero by Gay Talese (from Ocean City)
And Furthermore by Judi Dench
The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
My Father’s Tears by John Updike
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Do You Like Baseball?
Then play “Step Up to the Plate” at ALA’s website:  Just answer a set of trivia questions about baseball and become eligible to win a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. And stop in to see our baseball card display – coming soon!

May 26 – June 4th: Used Book Sale (save the date)

Library Director’s Note:
I’m working on our summer programming -brochures available in May. See you soon!

Christine Rohrman, Library Director