In 2004 a small group of neighbors on Bayview Road in Money Island gathered together to promote a common cause under the name eventually adopted “Money Island Improvement Association”. The road had already crumbling under the force of rising sea levels and the only way that neighbors could reach their properties was to cut across my front yard. There were clear signs that our bridge would eventually collapse under the pressure of increased water flow underneath the road. Several neighbors had already lost their houses and land.
We lobbied government at every level. Over the past twelve years I’ve personally had hundreds of discussions to promote the project. I handed out flyers and hosted neighborhood meetings. Not everyone was comfortable with my activists efforts to bring attention to the project. I even received a telephone death threat from one official and was physically assaulted by a neighbor as a result of these efforts. Downe Township joined the effort.
Five years later in 2009 a grant was issued. At the grant ceremony covered by NJ.com in October 2009 Downe Township Mayor Renee Blizzard thanked Money Island residents for their persistence and specifically cited me for my patience and support of the project. Downe Township’s current Mayor Campbell took up the cause in recent years.
Now, this week, we finally broke ground with the project. I feel like this is a tangible example of grass roots efforts can really produce results despite the challenges posed by government and naysayers. Our effort is not over yet. The installation of the bulkhead will increase pressure on the bridge and neighboring properties. It will be necessary to eventually replace or fortify these as well. We recognize that it could be an another twelve year effort. But right now it makes sens to take a breather and recognize how far we’ve come.