Who Owns Godfrey Lake?

Question of Herbertsville lake's ownership still unknown to officials

Once upon a time, Godfrey Lake was more than just an afterthought to the thousands of motorists who pass by it every day as they drive on Herbertsville Road.

But for many years, township officials have not known what, exactly, they could do to improve the lake's condition. The problem: nobody knows who owns it.

After the township started digging into records dating back to the 1920s several years ago, they came up with more questions than answers. Business Administrator Scott Pezarras said a title search revealed that the lake's owner is the estate of the president of the defunct corporation that developed the area around the lake.

That scenario presents an entirely new set of issues, according to Township Attorney Jean Cipriani, who said the township must find the owner's heirs in order to take any action on the property, including condemning the lake.

"No matter what, we have to find these heirs," Cipriani said.

For that search to take place, there could be a "significant cost," she added.

If no heirs can be found, there is a process by which the township could condemn the lake on its own, though Cipriani said "every reasonable attempt" must be made to locate the would-be lake owners before any condemnation proceedings could commence.

The last sign of its past still remains partially intact: seven pilings that once made up a dock, perhaps a platform from which swimmers could jump in the water on a warm summer day.

The lake was once part of a bungalow community known as the Godfrey Manor Country Club, after it was developed in the mid 1920s by Charles F. Godfrey and E.L. Godfrey, according to the book "Greetings From Brick Township," written by township historian Gene Donatiello.

At some point, the bungalow community organization was dissolved, leaving the lake's status up in the air.

For decades, the sizable lake has been largely forgotten despite its prime location alongside one of the township's most heavily-traveled roads.

From time to time, someone brings up the fact that something must be done about its appearance. A rusty guard rail on Herbertsville Road isn't aesthetically pleasing, people say, nor are the empty soda and beer cans that litter its shores. The water, most would agree, does not appear suitable for swimming.

For years, the lake was heavily overgrown with lilly pads and weeds. During most summers, the vegetation reappears.

The lake's owner may not want to step out of the shadows, however.

Cipriani said whomever owns the lake could be responsible for years of unpaid property taxes.

Sophia Loyd March 06, 2012 at 02:00 AM
I hope they find an heir, and do not give the property to the town nor do i wish for they themselves to turn around fill it with dirt and build houses on it. If the town gets a hold of this they will build more glorified projects in its place. The people of this neighborhood enjoy the serenity the lake brings, the quietness, the wildlife, the people, and most of all the privacy. Don't let this be lost.
Sophia Loyd March 06, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I doubt it, my house flooded with hurricane Irene.. The lake water level barely moved, you have a better chance of the lake swallowing up the houses around it before it over flows haha.
ROSE March 06, 2012 at 02:57 AM
I like Lonna remember swimmimg in the lake as a kid. . I still am in the neighborhood and enjoy walking around the lake with my dog.
Joseph Woolston Brick March 06, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Uh Oh somebody's interested in finding out who owns Godfrey's? Guess somebody wants to fill it in and build McMansions on it. Ya know the Brick thing to do.
John Barton March 06, 2012 at 07:04 AM
My family live up on one end of the lake and they had 2 horses in their back yard for decades. The lake shold be cleaned up and dredged out. Every 50 years the clean up takes place in Lake Riviera. I agree, these are Brick's little Pinelands, lets help preserve them.
Mark Story Jenks March 06, 2012 at 01:14 PM
In my opinion, here is how to help the lake: 1. Raise lots of money. 2. Pull the boards and drain it. 3. Muck it out. 4. Put the boards back. That is the only feasible way to really help the lake. I know the fish populations will have to start all over again, but somebody can figure out how to mitigate and/or hasten that process. Same for the frogs. Get rid of the Snapping Turtles, they eat baby ducks.
Mark Story Jenks March 06, 2012 at 01:15 PM
There is quite a market for Snapping Turtles up in Chinatown.
"Meez" March 06, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Mark- you owe me 100 bucks. I did the beaver assessment at that lake last week; there IS a beaver problem. Go take a look at the giant lodge they built, as well as the huge dam by the road. You gotta do your research, people, before you call someone out like that!
Fred Gee March 06, 2012 at 10:24 PM
I didn't live in Brick then, but I remember the lake during the mid 70's, the sandy lakeside beach would be full of people, as well as a bunch of kids out on the platform enjoying the summer.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Meez, I'll meet you there tomorrow with the cash. First you show me what the hell you're talking about. We were trappers for years, and NEVER saw or trapped a Beaver around here. I went there and saw a mound today. None of the branches I saw were gnawed off by a Beavers teeth. The were all saw cut or cut by a hatchet.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 12:23 AM
High noon.
whateverman March 07, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Sounds like a job for the HLA Corp of Engineers. Step 1. Blow up dam Step 2. Dig out spoils leaving a large and deep hole. Step 3. Insert majority of Saw Mill population into said hole then cap, cover and flood. Step 4. Turn waters over to HLA Navy for defense purposes.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 01:47 AM
The Mill Pond is a lot closer to Saw Mill.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 03:22 AM
"Cipriani said whomever owns the lake could be responsible for years of unpaid property taxes." I'm surprised it wasn't just sold at a tax sale years ago, then.
Sophia Loyd March 07, 2012 at 06:02 AM
Oh how I wish this is what they were going to do. Saw Mill is terrible, I wish they would turn it in to an adult community or have a zero tolerance policy go in to works in that area. Seedy, seedy people living there. Don't get me wrong you probably have some very nice folks in there as well..but for the most part I am not sure how they can tolerate their disgusting neighbors.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Tax map sheet 66.03 shows block 1234 as 8.51 acres. Godfrey or Boland's Lake.
"Meez" March 07, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Mr. Jenks, I've been involved in beaver removal with Fish & wildlife for some time now. We've removed several beavers from problem areas in Ocean County this year. For you to state that there are no beavers around here proves your credibility; Out of 48 comments on this lake issue, 23 of them are yours.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Yeah, thats right. But I'm a man of my word. Meet me, show me, get the money.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 01:09 PM
And you should respect your elders.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Meez, there are plenty of people who will vouch for my credibility. If I'm wrong, I'll pay up. Heading there now.
"Meez" March 07, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Sorry about upsetting your feelings, Mr. Jenks, and as I read my comments, I don't think I disrespected anyone. I answered a question that someone else posted, and you responding by questioning my knowledge as well as attempting to ridicule me publicly. My comments were to educate, not hate, sir.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Guess what, Meez. I spent a good deal of time there today. And I saw compelling evidence in your favor. No actual Beaver sited, but evidence none the less. And I still have the money on me, when you're ready. I'm very sorry if you took it personally, It just sounded so absurd to me. We have never seen them here before.
"Meez" March 07, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Thank you Mr. Jenks, for going back and looking further. I am going to assume you found the bank dens I also found, and I can tell you that there is little hole out by the tar, where my foot actually went through the den. I removed a 60 lb. beaver from Holiday City last month, under the direction of the state. Brookside Drive still has an issue, but the creek across from the mall has been tended to. ALL had beaver issues. The problem is growing quite rapidly. I again thank you for clearing me up on that, you're a good man, Mr. Jenks. We should have lunch.
Mark Story Jenks March 07, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Most assuredly! On me, of course. Do you suppose they are going back and forth to the Mill Pond through the storm sewers?
"Meez" March 07, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Probably. They do like to wander. There is evidence of them up the other end of the 2nd pond, but it's old. I believe that there is one to two adults working there, and I'm hoping it's one. Mating season is here. I do know that fish & game received a nuisance call from one of the residents. I would assume its from one of two houses bordering the lake. I noticed that they are attempting to hold back some dirt with a small retaining wall. As soon as they solve the ownership mystery, the varmint can be served his eviction notice.
Mark Wendell March 07, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Regarding someone's concern that the township is trying to condemn the lake. If the township "condemned" the lake doesn't that mean they can get title and then remedy the problem. I remember seeing people on the swim platform on the way to the beach in the 70's. With the recent grim reports regarding NJ's river's I wonder if dredging it would make a difference.
Sophia Loyd March 08, 2012 at 02:34 AM
I am no spring chicken, but.. it says right in the article about condemning the lake. A user did not create that idea. So what you are saying is.. they can condemn it and then what.. it stays as is because they do not have the deed. The heir should come forward and then just donate it to a wetlands preserve.
Sean Conneamhe March 08, 2012 at 12:24 PM
"Perhaps a non-political 'Friends of Godfrey Lake' entity should be formed to raise private donations, locate the heirs, get title to the property, and restore and maintain the property. Whatever government permits are required should be obtained, but government, politicians, and tax money should not be involved. Make it a 'People's Park' by offering memberships and soliciting donations and volunteer labor. It is something to consider."
mike tetrault April 09, 2012 at 04:34 AM
To all the knuckel heads out there,who question Mark Story Jenks; ,he is an herbertsville historian,who,s family has lived here for generations.i grew up on lake Howard,1 of 2 lakes that feed into the back of boland lake.all the lakes were created by the county for the fire department,a water source in case of a fire.fire hydrants did not exist in brick before 1980.
Out Of Towner August 22, 2012 at 04:51 PM
All lake water in the State is owned by the State and Governed by the DEP. They are held in stewartship by the town. Which means they should be protected by the town against illegal contamination and so forth. The property owners only hold rights to the ground under the water and lake bottom taxes are usually very low kind of like Farm Tax. Unless the lake is deamed to be on County Property, they would have nothing to do with it. The DEP could at some point condemn the dam and have it removed if the property owner would not replace or repair as the State Engineers require.


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