Marine Trades Association of New Jersey celebrates recent success

The trade group is grateful to State Senator Jeff VanDrew and Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak for their leadership

Marina Trades Association celebrates success reducing salestax on boats
Marina Trades Association celebrates its recent success in reducing the sales tax on boats to 3.5%.

Three years ago Money Island Marina joined the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey (MTANJ) with a considerable investment of time and money. Few south Jersey marinas are active in this professional group and none of the other businesses in the Delaware Bay region are represented. It was a frustrating experience at first since relatively few people from the northern part of the state are even aware of our existence nor the severe challenges faced by the Delaware Bay communities and businesses. We quickly became aware how insignificant the south-west region is to the state’s overall economy and how unfair and devastating a “one size fits all” government can be to our sustainability. But over the course of three years Tony built relationships that appear to be leading toward recovery paths for the marina.

Last night in a rare meeting in South Jersey, the group gathered in Somers Point to celebrate recent successes. It is close to a miracle that NJ government approved the 3.5% sales tax reduction for boats in the State of New Jersey. The law passed in December and already became effective last month. Association members met with representatives of the Division of Taxation to work out the details in January. The association praised our State Senator Jeff VanDrew and Assemblyman Rob Andre  for their leadership on the project.

Over the next year I expect that Money Island Marina will be involved in several more public/private partnership projects to improve our docks, boat ramp and land-based facilities to enhance public access to the waterways. We will upgrade our waste water treatment to meet the latest standards. Our electric supply will continue to transition toward solar, wind and other sustainable and renewable sources. Our well and pump house may soon be approved as the only fully permitted privately owned multi-dwelling water system in the entire state of New Jersey! Melissa Danko, Executive Director has been a big help already. Her husband Mike visited us at Money Island last summer in his official capacity with SeaGrant but has been equally helpful in an informal capacity with introductions to others who may play an important role in our recovery plans.

Yet none of these recovery projects are cheap. The cost of these projects is far beyond the economic value of the marina’s holding or income capacity. We can’t possibly do it alone. Yet it appears that we now have the verbal support of federal, state and county government officials as well as a number of non-profit organizations who want to see the marina remain in operation and succeed for the overall benefit of the community. We are grateful to MTANJ for all its help and guidance over the past three years. We expect to announce further progress in the near future.

I encourage other area businesses to consider joining and supporting this effective trade organization. – Tony

‘Codfather’ of commercial fishing arrested

poaching

Today the IRS, the U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA combined forces to take down one of the largest fish poachers in the northeast U.S. The overfishing investigation is ongoing and more may be arrested. Carlos Rafael, called “The Codfather” of commercial fishing and owner of Carlos Seafood, Inc. in Massachusetts is accused of lying to federal authorities about the quantities and species of fish harvested by his fleet of boats caught in order to evade quotas aimed at guaranteeing sustainable fisheries. Carlos Seafood is one of the largest seafood companies in the U.S.

Overfishing hurts all of us and is devastating to small businesses that follow the law. CNN covered the story today at http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/26/us/northeast-fishing-business-owner-arrested/index.html

A few years ago federal authorities arrested oystermen for over-harvesting right here at Money Island. Smaller violators are arrested every year in the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay.

Explanation of MI’s historic real estate documents

Money Island NJ

I occasionally comment that it seems like historic documents at Money Island are mixed up. We know for example, that some of the buildings are not located on the lot that they are presumed to be associated with. In other cases the building permits appear to have the wrong block and lot numbers. Yesterday a partial explanation came from the Cumberland County Department of Health:

“From time to time the townships reevaluate their mapping systems and reassign block and lot numbers to adjust to the development in their areas. We are lucky enough to have a tax map program that allows us research historic block and lot information for areas where it is available. It is not all-inclusive but it does help, especially in the bay shore areas where it appears that the township reassigned block and lot numbers 2 to 3 times since the 50’s.”

We are working with the NJDEP and the Cumberland County Department of Health to work out permitting deficiencies that haunt the water and waste utilities of Money Island. We now have a workable plan (but still lack funding), but we recently agreed to put the entire project on hold until we determine which properties the state will offer to purchase and which will be left behind under BaySave’s stewardship.

Money Island in the news again over expanded buyouts

docks at Money Island Marina
commercial crabbing and oyster boat docks at Money Island Marina

We were a bit concerned by this lopsided coverage by the Atlantic City Press this week where the reporter included five comments by the mayor about how his local government will be hurt by the property buyouts but not a single comment about the devastating financial impact on the residents and property owners here who have already suffered the loss of their homes and much of their property value.

The state apparently announced expansion of its local buyout offer of the Money Island hoes to now include the commercial docks but we do not have any confirmation from any dock owners yet. We own several of the commercial docks in the target area and haven’t received any notice yet.

Money Island Marina at sunset
recreational boat docks at Money Island Marina

There were only two comments from Money Island residents in the AC Press article. Jeanie is, well, our beloved unique neighbor and it’s fair to say her life view is different from most. She has been clear, just like her well-respected mother years ago, that she intends to remain here no matter what. Meghan, the other resident who offered comment, is always diplomatic and politically correct as is appropriate for her role as leader of the regional recovery effort. But what about the 60+ other property owners here, mostly hard-working local people, who have already lost homes collectively worth millions of dollars attributable to the rising water?

Just to repeat, we still have no word on the state’s intent for the marina or the docks. The news reported that the buyout offers have extended to Money Island’s commercial docks but we own several of them and we have no indication yet that the state is interested in acquiring the properties. In early 2012 (before Sandy) a formal offer was made to gift these properties to the state and then lease them back. This is the way Fortescue Marina and many other marinas around the state operate and all people at DEP the Tony spoke with agreed that it was a good plan.

But then the state apparently lost focus after Sandy and we haven’t heard anything since then on the status of the plan. The informal word is that the offer is still being considered but through channels outside of the Blue Acres program because Blue Acres is for acquiring open space, not meant for sale/leasebacks. All informal indications are that state government wants the marina to remain in business; we just don’t know how that will be financially possible without a sale/leaseback.

For now we are just waiting and will postpone any new major capital expense projects until we have clarification from the state. As far as we know, planned improvements to the boat ramp, pump out station, seawall, shoreline restoration, etc. that are already in motion will continue to move forward (slowly as always) at Money Island. The marina will continue forward with planned dock improvements this season.

flooding at Money Island
occasional flooding has been a long term issue at Money Island Marina

Our best guess, based on collected comments of residents and government officials, is that the marina and commercial harvesting businesses will remain at Money Island for perhaps a decade or two, but that most of the other remaining Money Island residents, about 15, will be gone within the next five years. Tony reminds owners that historically about 8 out of 10 people who receive an offer from NJDEP Blue Acres do eventually accept the buyout. It’s not that they want to sell but rather that they run out of other options.

Aquaculture at Money Island?

Does aquaculture hold the key for the future of Money Island? Tony thinks so and has gradually been re-purposing the marina and surrounding properties as a support facility for shellfish harvesting and other aquaculture support. It will be years or even decades until we know for sure what direction the Delaware Bay will take in terms of food production in terms of preferred species or sustainable levels of production.

Check out this TED video at http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_velings_the_case_for_fish_farming.

Wall Street to Money Island. How did that happen!?

dbl

Wall Street and Money Island NJ; two opposite corners of the earth.

This week marks 29 years since I left a Wall Street firm to work on my own in the small business world. I posted a reflective piece on the mostly hard lessons learned. I still don’t care to talk much about those days but I suppose that I should.

More at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/29-years-away-from-wall-street-tony-novak-cpa-mba-mt

 

 

Weekend winter storm Jonas damage assessment

This past weekend’s storm caused more problems here than we initially expected. It is quite noticeable that Money Island took one more hit in the long battle against rising water level and increased storm energy. The most visible impact is a loss of more than one vertical foot of beach sand on the water side of the new Bayview Road bulkhead.  That beach loss was a predicted impact of the sea wall construction but seeing it happen in real life is no less shocking. The marina lost a finger dock, a load of dock lumber and of our two dock ramps need major repairs. One neighbor’s house lost a section of siding. At least two of the commercial docks need repair or replacement of their flotation. Repair costs of the damaged items we noticed are likely to be in the range of $10,000 to $20,000 even with our use of primarily volunteer and uncompensated labor.

One of the long term predictions about the effect of climate change is that the combine forces of sea level rise and increased water and air temperatures in that smaller storms like this will have a greater destructive impact on property. That seems to be the case with this recent storm Jonas.

I noticed the irony that the newer structures seemed to incur the most damage. The old decrepit and abandoned structures here seem to have survived unscathed.

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We do not yet know what is caused this new dock to sink. Perhaps the air-filled floats cracked and filled with water. The floats were rebuilt in September 2015. This will likely be our most difficult and expensive repair this spring.

trailer stuck in sand
trailer stuck in sand

Flowing sand across roadways and parking areas can cause headaches.

Bayview Road bridge
Bayview Road bridge

There is more deterioration of the roadway at the Bayview Road bridge yet a tractor clearing debris drove over it today.

ice on the marsh
ice on the marsh

The snow and ice on the marsh was mostly melted by the end of the day Monday.