Thursday, December 7, 2023

Smokestack’s Last Days: Residents Bid Farewell to a Landmark

Members of the public take an up-close look at the smokestack of the the B.L. England power plant, scheduled to be demolished Thursday, Oct. 26, at 10 a.m. People were invited to leave their names or other messages on the stack during an Oct. 21 event.

By Christopher South

BEESLEY’S POINT – The community came out to say goodbye to the smokestack of the former B.L. England Generating Station Saturday, Oct. 21, with people writing their names and messages on the sides of the 436-foot structure.

The smokestack is scheduled to come down Thursday, Oct. 26, at 10 a.m. Those who wish to watch the demolition are asked to be at the observation area at the end of N. Shore Road near the Tuckahoe Inn by 9:30 a.m.

Chad Parks, executive vice president of real estate and development for Beesley’s Point Development Group, said that the day’s speakers gave a program about the old plant site and presented an overview of Thursday’s demolition.

In addition to the speakers, members of the public were invited to share their own story about the smokestack, which was designed to resemble a lighthouse overlooking Great Egg Harbor Bay.

Billed as “Say Goodbye to the Stack,” the purpose of the event was to reflect on the site’s history and to point out some unique areas of the property, the development group said in a press release. Visitors were invited to bring markers or paint to “decorate” the smokestack before it came down, and perhaps take selfies. This was the last opportunity to visit the site before the demolition.

The smokestack at the old B.L. England power generating station, which began operating in 1961 and closed in 2019.

The development group said it envisions a site redevelopment that advances “arts, science, outdoor activity, sports and nature-based exploration, learning and creativity.

“The biodiversity of the site offers for exceptional learning, environment, and the ability to immerse our children in the sciences. Several programs are being planned that will elevate the learning experience at all grade levels,” the development company said.

Dave Kreutz, also with the development group, said that Fred Akers, operations manager for the Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association, gave a talk to children at the event about the bay and the life in it, including turtles, shells and turtle eggs, as well as information about the area’s indigenous people. He said Andy Shawl, who worked for decades at the B.L. England plant, talked about its history.

“The stack was a welcome sight by residents for decades, and it will be missed by many,” Kreutz said.

Upper Township Mayor Jay Newman said the event had an environmental display, including horseshoe crab shells and information on other marine life. He said the event was highly attended and very entertaining.

The “Say Goodbye to the Stack” event became a fundraiser for the Upper Township Middle School and the Heritage Homestead Day program. The goals were to raise money for Heritage Homestead projects and for the purchase of a potter’s wheel and kiln for the middle school.

Upper Township Mayor and Marmora Fire Chief Jay Newman with Deputy Chief Russell Barham after “tagging” the smokestack at the B.L. England plant.

“It was pretty cool. I didn’t expect it to be that much fun. I saw old friends, there were people who worked there that came by, or their relatives,” Newman said.

Newman, who is also chief of the Marmora Volunteer Fire Co., said representatives of the fire company were there to “tag” the smokestack. He said the company will be on-site Thursday to help keep visitors safe, as it had for the demolition of the cooling tower in September 2022 and the boilers in April.

The smokestack was originally scheduled to be imploded at the same time as the boilers, but the development group opted to do them separately so the debris from the brick smokestack would not be mingled with that from the metal boilers.

The plant, which began operations in 1961, has been shut down since May 2019.

“We are doing basically the same setup. This is the third implosion, and they all came off without a hitch,” Newman said.

The Marmora Volunteer Fire Co. is coordinating with Upper Township EMS and the New Jersey State Police.

Kreutz said the development group does not yet have final plans for the site. He said the focus now is to get the site “clean and flat.”

“It’s a marvelous parcel,” he said. “It has great potential, and we’re still in the tinkering phase to see what would work. We hope to have development plans next year.”

Contact the author, Christopher South, at or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.


Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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