“Raise your hand if this is your first time here,” Eddie Segall religiously started off his nightly sunset ceremonies at the Sea Gull’s Nest. “Now raise your hand if this is your last time here,” Segall barked as 10′s of customers raised their hands in laughter, just as they had the night or the week before. The joke never got old.
Photo by Paul Scharff
We’ve raised our hands, sung God Bless American along with a Kate Smith recording and watched the octogenarian Segall challenge much younger men to 50 push ups for the last time.
Sandy, and the federal bureaucracy, has claimed the iconic Monmouth County attraction that was a favorite of tourists and locals alike.
The Sea Gull’s Nest at Sandy Hook will not be reopening, according to a report on Highlandsblog. The blog quotes Daphne Yun, spokesperson for Gateway National Recreation Area, ” the lease for the popular Sea Gull’s Nest Restaurant has not been renewed. Sea Gull’s Nest will not be reopened.”
Sandy Hook, the Monmouth County arm of the Gateway National Recreation Area, is closed to the public as a result of the Federal Government shutdown.
But vehicles were driving in and out of the park when I drove by this afternoon.
Ranger Tim Quinn said the Marine Academy of Science and Technology is open as are “the cooperators,” the non-profit organizations that have their offices in the park. The Coast Guard Station is also open.
Quinn said all others are prohibited from entering the park, by car bicycle or foot. He said several members of the park staff were sent home after working four hours today and referred me to the press office for the answers to any other questions. I guess the press office is working.
In addition to Quinn, there were five rangers gathered in toll house at the entrance to the park. Asked if he was getting paid, Quinn laughed and said, “I’m not volunteering for the government.
The Jersey Tomato Press reports that 800,000 “non-essential” government employees are out of work. Passport offices and the Federal Housing Administration are closed. No mortgages or last minute overseas trips. No SBA loans or background checks for gun licenses either. The trash isn’t being picked up in Washington, DC, but lots of garbage is being reported in the media.
While President Obama and Senate Democrats are blaming House Republicans for shutting down the government, the House is taking up measures to fund the National Parks, veterans affairs and Washington, DC government operations. Senate Democrats, budget chairwoman Barbara Mikuski and Majority Whip Dick Durbin rejected the piecemeal approach to reopening the government, according to Politico.
Gateway National Recreation Area will reopen the Sandy Hook Unit to the public for the first time since Hurricane Sandy beginning Wednesday, May 1. A ceremony at 10 A.M. will mark the reopening, with U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone in attendance.
“We have been looking forward to this moment since the storm hit us and we’ve worked hard to make it happen this soon,” said Sandy Hook Unit Coordinator Pete McCarthy. “Employees and volunteers have literally dug out beach centers and parking lots, and pumped out flooded basements, we’ve even rebuilt sand dunes and replanted beach grasses.” Work will continue this summer as more services are restored and roads continue to be repaved.
After the opening ceremony Congressman Pallone will address the group, which will include the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) Color Guard who will be on hand to present the colors. These MAST high school students’ campus is located in the park and their campus was flooded during the storm. The students will finish the school year at an alternate location, host their graduation at Ft. Hancock and will return to Sandy Hook for fall classes.
Concerned about the potential impact on the Bayshore region’s economy of a prolonged closure of the Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area, Senator Joe Kyrillos (R- Monmouth) has introduced a resolution calling on the federal government to make reopening Sandy Hook a priority.
“Sandy Hook sustained enormous damage during Hurricane Sandy along with the homes and businesses of Bayshore residents,” Kyrillos said. “But there is more devastation in store if this economic engine for our region is not restored and reopened in time for the 2013 tourism season. The Sandy Hook Recreation Area is the source of millions of dollars of economic activity every year and an affordable summer getaway for tourists from near and far who will lose out on a treasured summer tradition if it is not reopened. We cannot afford to lose the economic activity generated by Sandy Hook as we seek to rebuild our shoreline.”
Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area is federally owned property that is maintained and operated by the National Park Service.