The former Our Lady Of Peace Catholic church in Normandy Beach is nearly completely razed after demolition activity ramped up over the past several days.
The church, once a year-round parish that was gradually drawn-down to seasonal use by its operator, St. Pio of Pietrelcina in Lavallette, was heavily damaged during Superstorm Sandy and never reopened. All of the parish’s services are now held at the Lavallette church. Our Lady of Peace was located on Route 35 north.
The demise of the church signifies the latest change in Brick Township’s barrier island portion, which has been in flux since the storm. A few blocks north, the large tract on which Camp Osborn once was located still sits empty.
Some former parishioners remembered the church fondly on social media this week.
“I received my First Communion and Confirmation at this church,” said Meghan Anyz Regodon. “The extra collection at Mass during 4th and 5th grade helped to fund my tuition at St. Peter’s in Point Beach.”
“Loved going there on summer Sunday mornings, then the Normandy market,” said Kenny Flowers.
There was some humor, too.
“Going up as young teens and hanging out on the steps and staying until we could snag a bulletin to show the folks we were actually there,” said Dan Redmond. “They knew.”
Since the storm, the church’s expansive parking lot has served as a staging area for construction efforts up and down the barrier island. Brick officials told Shorebeat the church’s lot was partially added to the tax rolls since the parking areas were being operated as a for-profit concern. The church paid $1,590.75 in property taxes last year for its parking area, a far cry from what will be generated by the 21 homes that have been approved for the site.
The demolition project is being performed by George Harms Construction, which used the site as a staging area for the Route 35 rebuilding project. The demolition of the church building had began in May, with the removal of several outdoor features, but ramped up in earnest over the past several days as heavy equipment began tearing down the bulk of the structure.
The new housing development was approved by the township’s planning board last year. Richard DiFolco, an engineer hired by the parish, told the board that that site will be graded with imported fill, and 21 single-family homes will be constructed, each of which will include driveways, garages and landscaping. The plan does not require any variances and the lots will conform to current township zoning ordinances, officials said.
The 21 homes proposed will comply with the township’s “cookie cutter” ordinance, each being constructed with a different exterior facade, said DiFolco. The homes, which will each include four bedrooms, will be individually owned – no homeowners’ association is planned. Each home will include between four and seven spaces for cars to park off the street, and each driveway will include room for a vehicle to make a “K” turn to avoid having to back out onto the street.