Merce Ridgway Speaks

Merce Ridgway, founder of the Pinelands Cultural Society, bayman, environmentalist, former Waretown resident, folk hero, Marine, comments on overdevelopment in Waretown.

Dear Mr. deCamp,

My thoughts and my spirit will be with you all on the 16th [of May 2001]. I am nauseated by what is going on in Waretown. It makes me feel physically ill to see in my mind the changes that will take place there if money grubbing politicians get their way.

I remember when I was a boy and the first development was put in behind where we lived. They said it would be good for the area and make work, taxes would go down and life would be better.

They destroyed the woods, dug lagoons and wrecked the meadows. When the houses were built, the jobs were gone and we were competing for what work remained both on the bay and on the land with the newcomers. Our old schools were too small and we needed new ones. Crime went up and we needed a police force. Government expanded and that cost more money.

The end result was higher taxes, low paying jobs if you could get one, and life did not get better.

The sad part is that the people who made the money from these projects were gone. They do not stay and live with what they have done, they go off and destroy some other pristine spot in the never-ending quest for more money.

None of this addresses what they have done to enviromental quality. What is being done to our mother the earth is without excuse. As my father said in one of his songs, nothing that you do goes unrewarded good or bad, and I am afraid of the reward that the people will reap, for the needless rape that is in store for Ocean Township should we fail to stop what is about to happen.

I believe that history will regard the people behind these plans as villains and when our grand children are writing the history, people such as yourself and others who have stood up against those who would destroy the land, will be regarded as heros, win or lose you will know you have done your best, and you may count me on your side.

I have little money, but my mind still works fairly well. If I can help in some way, please let me know. Feel free to use this writing if it might help in some way.

Semper Fidelis
Merce [Maurice] Ridgway

Read a November 28, 2001 Ocean County Observer Editorial on the Waretown Planning Center issue.

Read an Asbury Park Press May 2001 explanation on the proposed town center designation for Waretown.

Read about the 1500-unit “Greenbriar at Waretown” development (proposed for the woods south of Wells Mills Road) that Save Barnegat Bay contested in court, but lost.

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