County: Cape May
07/99: Ocean City Council has bonded to purchase the station for possible use as environmental and history education center; DEP has loaned money for purchase with Green Acres grant/loan. It has also been proposed that the station is moved to make way for condo development and place the station closer to the beach, as it was originally.
09/99 Congressman Frank Pallone has introduced the U.S. Life Saving Service Heritage Act (HR 2832), to document, evaluate and restore life-saving stations (4 of 45 stations remain).
11/99: Architectural firm Watson and Henry has completed a feasibility study on the possibility of relocating the station. The study recommends that the station remains on its current site in order to retain maximum integrity.
05/03: The City Council of Ocean City appears to be backing away from their 1999 commitment to purchase the Lifesaving Station, despite affirming the 1999 resolution at a meeting earlier this year. Several council seats have transitioned to new representatives, who have called the 1999 pledge an “unofficial expression of sentiment” with no binding validity.
Meanwhile, legal proceedings to determine the fair market value of the property are ongoing.
In addition, U.S. Congressmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) recently reintroduced the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Act as H.R. 904 and Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) has filed a companion bill, S443. The Lifesaving Station issue is part of growing concern for historic district and divided over family atmosphere (nostalgia) versus new tourist development in Ocean City.
07/08: A judge has placed a stay on the demolition of the Lifesaving Station until a court appeal over its fair-market value is resolved. This decision coincided with Ocean City’s moratorium on property demolitions during the summer tourist season, thus effectively buying some time for its advocates. The owners still intend to raze the building, as they haven’t been able to find a buyer for the property, currently offered at $1,071,000.
12/2009: A Superior Court judge has set the asking price for the station property at slightly less than $1 million. Further, on November 4, 2009, an agreement between Save Our Station Coalition, the property owner, and the City of Ocean City, offer to purchase through retired judge George Seltzer, court-appointed escrow agent and holder of the property’s deed, must be made by May 14, 2010 or the deed reverts to the owner.
3/2010: On March 25, the City Council of Ocean City, by a 6-1 vote, passed an ordinance approving a bond to cover the station’s purchase price of $887,500, the bond to be repaid by the sale of surplus city property. The station will be renovated and operated as a maritime museum by a newly-created non-profit group called U.S. Life Saving Station 30.
5/2010: U.S. Lifesaving Station 30 will make the Ocean City Lifesaving Station available for tours this summer. They are currently looking to the community for input and participation.
5/2011: The Ocean City Life Saving Station has been recommended for a $750,000 capital preservation grant from the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund. The NJ Historic Trust announced the recommendation in April. The station is one of 58 historic resources on the current recommendations list. The proposed grant awards were ratified by the GSPT during the first week of May and now must move through the NJ legislature before final approval by the governor.
8/2011: The governor signed the appropriations bill for the 2010 NJHT grants this month, ensuring that the Ocean City Lifesaving Station will receive the capital preservation grant recommended by the NJ Historic Trust earlier this year.
4/2012: Ocean City Life Saving Station advocate Kimball Baker has published a new history of the station and the grassroots preservation effort to save it. Copies of “For Those in Peril: A History of the Ocean City Life-Saving Station” are available for $9.95, and can be purchased by contacting the author at email@example.com. Proceeds are being donated to U.S. Life Saving Station 30, the non-profit group stewarding the station and overseeing its restoration into a museum.
The Ocean City Life Saving Station was built in 1885, one of a number of such stations built to protect the swimming and boating public along New Jersey’s Atlantic shore. Between 1910 and 1930, the building was used as a Coast Guard station and for almost 70 years now, it has been a private home. While still in its original location, the former lifesaving station is now a block and a half from the water, due to the enormous amount of sand that has been added to the beach over the years. In 1998, the station was purchased by a developer with plans for demolition and replacement by three new duplexes.
Charles London, Preserve Ocean City
Ocean City, NJ 08226
David Swift, Citizens for Historic Preservation,
1108 Central Ave.
Ocean City, NJ 08226
U.S. Lifesaving Station 30