Butler Beach Shines Again

A long pier juts out into the Barnegat Bay for crabbing, fishing, or enjoying the view. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

BERKELEY – The lagoon areas of Bayville have come a long way since Superstorm Sandy, but there is still work being done.

At the end of summer, almost five years after it devastated the community, there are still houses being rebuilt and raised, and a park is being finished.

Unveiling the sign. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Butler Beach was one of Sandy’s many casualties. The beach was washed away. The playground was destroyed.

David Butler remembers it a different way, back in the late 1950s, early 1960s. He recalled kids coming out to the area in their hot rods, spending the day at the beach, and playing the jukebox at a local joint. He attended the ribbon cutting reopening the beach with his wife, Kelly, and son, Taylor, who is a local police officer.

He thanked the governing body for “bringing this back to the vision my family had.”

David is the grandson of Marcus C. Butler, who was mayor from 1938-1958. He and his wife, Grace Rogers Butler, donated the beach to the town. According to local historians, the Butler family can be traced back to the “Fortune,” the ship that came after the Mayflower. Grace Rogers Butler was a descendent of John Rogers. Her family dates back to the first settlers of what is now Ocean County.

Mayor Carmen Amato speaks at the Butler Beach ribbon cutting ceremony. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Because of the donation, the area became known locally as Butler Beach even though it had no official name. That is, until the Township Council officially named it that in June.

“It’s because of their generosity that we’re here today,” Mayor Carmen Amato said at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The State Department of Environmental Protection approved the town’s plan to add another 740 cubic yards of sand to the beach, which will give it a much longer life expectancy, he said.

What’s new to the area is a 195-foot long, four-foot wide crabbing and fishing pier that was already in use that morning.

James Byrnes, who was still picking up a bit of trash that morning off the sand, said he wants people to help keep it clean. Quoting the township’s new push that if you “see something, say something,” he said that people should report any illegal activities going on here in order to keep it nice.

Spectacular views of the Barnegat Bay. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

The pirate ship-themed playground was rededicated, since it was installed in 2015. It was a community effort, with about 100 volunteers and equipment donated by Alexandra’s Playground. This is a nonprofit that installs two or three playgrounds a year. Dr. Michael Vitale, co-founder of Alexandra’s Playground, told the Asbury Park Press that the organization is named for his daughter, who died in a tragic accident in 2008. They wanted her legacy to be providing the gift of play to other children.

Sophia Bollettieri, 2, enjoys the playground at Butler Beach. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Bill McGrath, a member of the township’s volunteer Waterways Committee, said it was a great movement rebuilding that. “It brought the community together as a whole after Sandy,” he said.

Amato said that the donated equipment and volunteers saved Berkeley about $70,000.

The beach project cost $331,380. Amato said that he expects the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse 90 percent of that. The town will apply to the Department of Community Affairs for a Community Development Block Grant for the remaining $33,138.

Photo by Chris Lundy
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Chris Lundy is News Editor at Micromedia. He has covered Ocean County news and features in various publications since 2003. Lundy worked for Gannett with articles in The Beacon, Observer and Asbury Park Press. He's also written for the Community Connection, Patch and ShoreBeat.