NJ town may remove Hurricane Sandy monument

- The front porch of the Highlands, New Jersey, home where Joan Ostermiller has lived for the last 50 years looks out on a 200-ton 15-foot-tall monument dedicated to the survivors of Hurricane Sandy.

"That is knocking the hell out of me. I hate it," Ostermiller said. "It's ugly."

Joan's neighbor Rich feels the same way.

"I don't like it," he said. "It doesn't belong on the beach."

So does matt down the street.

"It's hideous," Matt said.

And Toni, a block to the east.

"I think it's an eyesore," Toni said.

Art exists outside of any definition. Part of its beauty is that everyone experiences it differently. What feelings or emotions a piece conjures vary depending on who's looking at it.

"I love it," said Matt Kane, who can't see the so-called Shorehenge structure from his home. But he said he thinks the pavilion serves as a worthy memorial and called the town's reaction to it "very political."

"Some people like it," Kane said.

But the debate over whether Shorehenge belongs encompasses not only how it appears but also how it got there.

In early December, New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection discovered the pavilion's builders failed to receive the necessary permits.

Borough Administrator Tim Hill confirmed over the phone the Highlands city council had since sent out for quotes on what it might cost to remove the monument. Hill decline to provide his opinion of the structure's appearance.

"I know the two main people involved in bringing it in had the best intentions," Rich said. "You know, they've done a lot for this town. They just screwed up with this one."

Everyone to whom we spoke recalled Sandy and everyone wanted to ensure the community never forgot that storm. But those forced to look at the minimalist, drab, concrete behemoth on the beach off Snug Harbor Avenue felt it did little to help them remember anything but how much they disliked the way it looked.

"I hope it gets knocked down soon," Ostermiller said. "I hate it."

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