TOMS RIVER, NJ – After news broke about Ocean County’s Board of Commissioners eyeing a block of land in Jackson Township to build Toms River Councilman Terrance Turnbach’s homeless shelter, today, officials within different levels of Ocean County government said there are several other options on the table.
That table is being run by Ocean County Freeholders Gary Quinn and Virginia Haines. Haines and Quinn are taking recommendations from Turnbach, a criminal defense attorney whose firm specializes in representing child rape victims, child pornographers, and violent criminals. Turnbach wants a homeless shelter and he isn’t taking no for an answer.
Initially, Turnbach said he would consider building the shelter in his own backyard. That isn’t happening. It never was happening. Instead, Turnbach, officials say is negotiating with Quinn and Haines for possible other county and township-owned properties that can be redeveloped for homeless shelters.
Aside from a large tract of land in Jackson Township, other properties have been discussed, including the former West Wind Stable on Cox Cro Road in Toms River and even the former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club property.
The township of Toms River and the County of Ocean have been buying land in recent years and those two have been their most prominent purchases.
The West Wind Stable, located in North Dover is situated near Route 9 for easy bus access for homeless residents. Initially, the town said it would try to rehabilitate the horse farm and use it as a therapeutic farm. That was two years ago and talks on that front have stalled. Now, the farm is being eyed as a possible site for Turnbach’s massive countywide homeless shelter.
The township paid $800,000 for property and would be able to recoup some of those costs through state and federal grants being sought by Turnbach to build the facility. Turnbach had indicated that more than 150 people in Ocean County could be housed at the facility. The farm is situated on 8 sprawling acres in the highly coveted North Dover section.
Another site that came up in conversation public insiders told Shore News Network is the former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club property in Ortley Beach. Although the town has indicated it wants to connect he north and south end boardwalks in Ortley Beach on the Oceanfront, there are no plans right now for the former night club’s parking lot.
“The thought process there is that it’s located around a lot of seasonal employment opportunities,” the source who wished to remain anonymous said today. “I don’t know what’s going on with it, they keep everyone in the dark about this, there’s no transparency in the entire process.”
A beach front homeless shelter is not a new idea. The Atlantic City Rescue Mission, one of the shore’s largest homeless facilities is just blocks away from the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
“Our biggest concern is that once we open up this new state of the art facility that will dwarf other shelters in the state, it won’t just be used for our own homeless but we’ll get homeless from all over New Jersey and possibly even beyond and that’s not what we need right now,” the official said today.
Since purchasing the horse farm two years ago, under township ownership, it fallen into disrepair. The farm could be used for a dual purpose role as the township said it has also secured an agreement with Chariot Riders, Inc, a non profit group that offers therapeutic horseback riding for mentally and physically challenged individuals.
The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not represent Shore News Network.