Bay Point

Bay Point, New Jersey, USA

Blue Acres Expropriation

The Disappointed Tourist: Bay Point, Ellen Harvey, 2024. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

Bay Point was a small town on the Delaware Bay, popular for fishing and crabbing with a marina and houses dotting the shore. Once protected by an artificial breakfront placed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960’s, it was not replaced after being dislodged allowing the beach to erode. The intensity of 21st century storms, such as Hurricane Sandy, brought further damage and flooding. The state implemented the Blue Acres (buyouts for property prone to flooding) program in the area to purchase property, tear it down, and allow the land to return to its natural habitat. While the buyout program helps make New Jersey more resilient to effects of climate change, it takes away jobs and economic activity from the bay front communities in what is already the poorest county in the state. In contrast, the state has repeatedly put money into rebuilding the Atlantic shoreline.  The painting is based on a photograph taken by Emma Lee for WHYY — I hadn’t known who took it when I painted it but I met her at my opening at Rowan University Gallery & Museum. My painting is not the same dimension as the photograph so it crops out part of the sign, which says “Children at Play” — very fitting for a place where no more children will ever live and play.

I grew up here. Blue Acres bought up the houses and we were forced to move. They demolished all the houses which was devastating. Now there are just poles and rubbish on the bay where homes used to be. Jerica H.