The speech below was published in the Red Bank Register on 11/2/1939. I'm posting it because it shows the enormous vision, perseverance and hard work that first made our harbor become a reality. I think we're reaching a very real crossroads with the harbor today and I hope our residents and elected officials can work with the same character, spirit and vision of the men and women mentioned below. Perhaps 70 years from now residents of AH will look back on us and appreciate the vision and hard work that kept our harbor profitable and efficient but more than just a strip-mall parking lot on the water.
Thanks to Jacquie Jones for the research and re-keying of this article.
"Speech Given By Earl Snyder At Log Cabin Inn"
as published in the Red Bank Register, November 2, 1939
Mr. Toastmaster, Honored Guests, Friends:
I am very deeply appreciative of the many kind remarks that have been made about me this evening. I feel this is one occasion which has made all the effort which I have expended for this great public improvement - our breakwater and harbor in Sandy Hook Bay - well worth the while, and I will continue to put forth my best efforts to make this one of the most important improvements to New Jersey waterways while I am able to do so.
It would be highly improper for me to leave any impression that I am the most important factor in this improvement. I am well aware that the chairmanship of the Harbor Control board carries with it many responsibilities but I have been very fortunate in having on this board as associates a group of capable men, whose names you know, who have worked with me in complete harmony and without whose aid accomplishment would have been difficult if not impossible. Our board has also been favored by the assistance of many friends in high places in the political life of our borough, county and state. To make mention of a few would be to leave out many. To name only men would be to leave out many women who have been unstinting in their help and encouragement, (I hope before this dinner closes some personal mention and recognition can be given to those who have assisted, excusing any omissions as purely unintentional), I wish to express to all my personal gratitude and thanks as well as that of my committee. Without such widespread co-operation there would have been no cause for a Victory celebration tonight.
It might be interesting to those here tonight to listen to a brief review of the kaleidoscopic events marking the history of the harbor. To be accurate it is necessary to refer to this paper I hold. I will try to be quick and ask you to bear with me. I read from the Atlantic Highlands Journal an item appearing ten years ago in September.
"The yacht harbor project was revied at a meeting of the Atlantic Highlands Lions club. Mr. William Friedlaender, a guest, told members of his plan which was to provide the needed breakwater by sinking a row of obsolete ships. After some discussion, Lions Snyder, Tumen, McVey, Orth, Sculthorp and Dender were appointed by President Frank Baldwin as a special committee to push the enterprise along."
The ships mentioned were wartime abandoned boats of the Merchant Marine anchored up the Hudson river, which could have been bought cheaply - if we knew where to getthe money. The meeting was in this very Log Cabin Inn, I believe. If you remember October, 1929, the financial world began to crumble. This committee had a poor startbut, never the less, by the fall of 1931 plans were ready for a wooden piling breakwater 2,400 feet long, crescent shaped, commencing in much the same location as at present, to cost $70,000. Legislators were dined at Trenton and a bill appropriating $35,000 bythe state was introduced February, 1932 (A120) by Assemblyman Howard Height. Thereon McCampbell was his colleague and Donald Sterner was state senator. This wasa good bill and it ought to have passed - but it didn't.
Election that year brought in the New Deal and eventually the big money - PWA. By December of 1933, with the splendid support of local and county newspapers, enthusiasm ran high for a PWA project; mass meetings were held, straw ballots indicted better than 95% were favorable and Mayor John R. Snedeker and his council endorsed harbor plans and the project application was ordered filed after considerable oppositionin debate. This time two Islands were to be pumped up in the bay, protected by steelpilling. A pier for boats was to extend from near First avenue. The project was self-sustaining and cost $250,000, of which the government would give $75,000 or 30% and would loan $175,000 - 70%. The War Department engineers had granted a permit for such an improvement, and have several times since renewed permits to construct a harbor or refuge the last of which permits expires December 31, this year. Not familiarwith PWA routine then - and still not familiar with it - we permitted the application towind its way through local directors, regional directors, state directors and a number ofnational directors or executives until we almost lost track of it. Eventually we found that it had received every consideration but that the project was too large financially for a municipality of our finances to undertake. Then PWA had its first ending. Meantime we learned of the National Rivers and Harbors congress - a national body with headquarters at the national capitol. actively supporting worthwhile projects. We placed our needs before them and received wonderful support. An organization like that for New Jersey will help put New Jersey on the waterway maps. We were the first year classed "meritorious," next year "recommended for survey" the following session "approved forimmediate construction." This body had its grasp on national, worth-while waterway affairs. We were fortunate and thankful to have their aid.
By 1935 a preliminary survey of sites in Sandy Hook bay for a harbor of refuge were begun by the Second New York District Army Engineers, resulting in the selection of the present site. Congress that year included $15,000 in the Rivers and Harbors appropriation bill for a survey of the site and a complete report. On January 15, 1936,was the memorable hearing of the War Department engineers in our borough hall - and the commencement in a very real way of the present outcome, with the many thrills, narrow escapes and exciting episodes to maintain interest at top speed.
Our second attempt with PWA when again revived earlier in the previous year, 1935, resulted as before in a declination, this time on the grounds that the engineering revealedthat the life of the project was estimated to be less than the period of financing, henceimpractical. It was as good an excuse as could be made - we still didn't know our wayaround - so we were very glad, indeed, to eventually have the Army Engineers Corpsrealize that we really had something - and there was no fooling from that point on.
I, and the others of my board, have never met or planned affairs with any men so courteous and agreeable to associate with as the officers and civilian personnel of the New York district office of the Army engineers - and the division office in New York and the Army Board at Washington have also at all times been most obliging. We submitted to them our harbor plans, now slightly enlarged to cost $325,000, with steelpiling breakwater and suitable piers for shore facilities. Asked what local co-operationwe could offer we met another delicate financial situation by stating that we believed itpossible to contribute 25% or $81,250 in cash and later as the harbor developed to undertake another $68,750 concurrently over a period of time for inshore facilities and landing piers to make the local total at least $150,000.
We trembled lest this would not be acceptable, as in most rivers and harbor improvements the local share required is at least 50%. When this proportion was found acceptable we really had some trembling to do to round up the $150,000. We wasted notime. Frank Durand, senator in 1936, offered senate bill No. 87 in February of that year, asking for $150,000. The bill died in committee. In 1937 while Frank Durand was president of the senate, Senator Loizeaux introduced for him senate bill No. 132 authorizing the Board of Commerce and Navigation to cnstruct the harbor and approved the expenditure of $150,000 for that purpose to become available when the Federal government had appropriated not less than $243,750 to make a breakwater to cost$325,000 - and when the state included this appropriation in any appropriation bill. That was the joker - an authorization bill with no actual appropriation included.
It passed the senate and was sponsored in the assembly by Assemblymen Irwin and Proctor. Proctor now state senator from Monmouth, Session after session we tramped to Trenton to move the bill on the calendar for action but without success because ofassembly bills in the senate being held up, causing a jam in both branches which it seemed could not be broken.
Finally, on the last day before adjournment, and as the last bill considered by the assembly the bill was brought to roll call - failed of the required votes, was recalled before a brief recess during which there was much activity seeking the necessary votes, particularly so on the part of Assemblyman Morris Cohen, our Hudson county neighborfrom Leonardo, and when the session reconvened the assembly considered only this one bill and the bill was passed with much jubilation in the closing minutes of the legislative year.
There was real celebration that night in the Stacey Trent. The bill became Chapter 91, Laws of 1937, the district engineers and Army Board were deciding that $325,000 wouldnot be adequate for a harbor. The district office recommended $423,750, the division office recommended $792,000, and the Army Board finally approved $850,000 forbreakwater and dredging with $6,000 additional annually for maintenance, provided local interests would contribute $81,250 of the $850,00 and $68,750 additional for shoreand landing facilities to make local cooperation total $150,000 - a total with the first annual maintenance included of nearly $925,000. And that is the way the harbor is beingbuilt today - a 4,000-foot continuous rubble mound stone breakwater, 2,000 feet from shore, with dredging in the area to a minimum depth of eight feet at low tide near the shore (almost 14 feet near the breakwater), with piers and bulkheads, parking and othershore facilities that will make the harbor one of the finest and most useful anywhere to befound.
This approved harbor item was added to the House River and Harbors authorization bill through the senate commerce committee, as the bill had already left the house and with the aid and assistance at various times of United States Senator W. Warren Barbour earlier, then later Governor Moore, at that time a United States senator, and Congressman Sutphin, the item was kept in the bill to be appropriated in regular routine in 1938 in the bill which President Roosevelt signed into law - and the money became ready for use July 1, 1938, on deposit in New York.
It was while returning from a national Rivers and Harbors congress which members of our board attended in Washington in January, 19-- that Victor Gelineau, director of the Board of Commerce and Navigation, suddenly died. He was a very helpful and good friend to us all and to this project. He is very much missed by everyone.
To raise the $150,000 Senator Durand in 1938 offered Senate Bill No. 415 after a sudden economy move, stripped all appropriations other than for pure governmental purposes from the state appropriation bill, even though the committee had earlier approved the inclusion of $150,000 by a majority vote. The special bill failed when the assembly caucus refused to consider any special appropriations however meritorious. This left us rather glum. The Federal money was ready in July, 1938, and we were forced to wait for the next legislature.
Without waiting we applied again to PWA for a loan and grant in August, 1938, totaling over $154,000. The present Mayor Reed and councilmen approved the application and the new state agency, the local government board recognized the emergency, but by December the PWA Funds were exhausted again and our application was denied on the grounds that one Federal agency could not financially implement another Federal agency on the same or overlapping projects. Just one more discouragement but not enough to beat us.
The late County Clerk Raymond Wyckoff, the director of the board of freeholders, another warrior in the cause who has since passed on, was successful with County attorney Howard Roberts, our toastmaster this evening, in having the county make available to Atlantic Highlands $25,000 to go with the $44,000 which the borough agreed to bond itself to raise making $69,000 of the required $150,000 and we again turned to our legislators in Trenton for the balance of $81,250.
With state assistance in view the War Department engineers released their requirement to have the local assistance ready by September 30, 1938, and extended the limit to January 31, 1939 - seven months past the date their appropriation was ready. The state legislature again convened in January, 1939 - less than 30 days before the limit expired. Our Hon. Harold McDermott, assemblyman from Monmouth with us tonight, ably assisted by his colleague, the Hon. Stanley Herbert, also here, immediately introduced assembly bill No. 99 appropriating $81,250 to the harbor.
As the time was short we appealed to the Army Board through Senator W. Warren Barbour and Congressman D. Lane Power for a further 90-day extension of the limit and through their courtesy and valuable aid received a final extension to March 31, 1939. There was no time to waste. Delay after delay of the appropriation committee through sickness and change of hearing dates postponed their approval which we did eventually get by a record majority vote. Where the money was coming from, with relief matters from 1938 and for 1939, pending legislative action and a pledge for no new taxes or any bond issues left our supporters in a quandary.
Pressure was brought for a vote on the bill. The assembly caucus would consider no appropriations before the regular appropriation bill in June, they said. By insistence, however, our assemblymen broke the caucus rule and were allowed to bring the bill to avote provided the money could come from the State Highway fund. This was a fat one designed to knock the bill into a cocked hat and cut out further appropriation demands. Our project well advertised, however was too well known by now, too important to the state to lose and our former Monmouth legislator, the present State Highway commissioner, the Hon. E. Donald Sterner, stood out like a Minute Man and acceded the funds from his department for the appropriation.
The bill on the floor was the subject of lively debate, but passed the assembly by a large majority. Once again the followers from Monmouth had cause to celebrate. The following week Senator Proctor received the bill in the senate and it was voted under a suspension rules without being referred to committee, passing on roll call after a lively debate. The votes were no more than enough - but enough to make history and the bill was signed into law by Governor Moore March 29, 1939 - just two days before the expiration of the deadline. No project could have had a more exciting career - and that there were any objections locally among property owners bordering the project in giving their waivers to riparian right is regrettable and largely due to being not fully aware of the magnitude and benefits of the harbor project.
I am sorry that I have taken so much of your time but the harbor is the one thing closest to myself and I hope my relating of the history will in some way add to the pleasure and enjoyment you will derive from this great public improvement.
I again for myself and for the members of the Harbor Control board want to thank you all for your splendid all-around support which has made this occasion possible and I wish to assure you that I will do everything within my power to insure the future successful operation of the harbor.