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October 26, 2023

Smokestack at Beesley's Point, for decades a landmark for travelers to the Jersey Shore, gets imploded

The 463-foot structure was part of the former B.L. England power plant visible from the Garden State Parkway; the property will be used, in part, for New Jersey's wind farm project

Development Demolition
Smokestack implosion NJ Doug Hood/USA TODAY NETWORK

The smokestack at the former B.L. England Generating Station in Beesley's Point, New Jersey, was demolished Thursday, Oct. 26.

The smokestack of the former B.L. England power plant — the tallest structure on Beesley's Point that for decades was a landmark for people headed to the Jersey Shore — was imploded Thursday morning.

The 463-foot-tall tower was part of the the electric generating station in Upper Township. It was felled at 10 a.m. by specialists from Controlled Demolition Inc. as spectators watched from land and on boats on the Great Egg Harbor Bay. The smokestack had been a visible marker near the Garden State Parkway on the south side of the Great Egg Harbor Bridge, about a 15-minute drive from Ocean City.

The B.L. England power plant had opened in 1961 with four diesel-powered electric generators and then added a coal-fired plant the following year. A cooling tower was installed in 1974.

Unable to meet the environmental standards of the Clean Air Act, such as adequate pollution controls, and lacking efficiency of newer facilities, the Beesley's Point plant was decommissioned in 2019. The 350-acre site was sold to Beesley's Point Development Group in 2021 with plans for redevelopment.

Here are two videos that show the smokestack's implosion.

Following the plant's closure, the developer has done remediation work to remove hazards from the property, including asbestos, and removed most of the other old B.L. England structures. The plant's cooling tower was demolished in September 2022 and the boiler was imploded in April.

Beesley's Point Development Group, a real estate development company based in New York that specializes in redeveloping former heavy industrial properties, has said it wants to turn the site into an "ecological gem" with public access.

"There will be a direct connection to current town parks, beautiful walking and biking trails, nature observatories and programs to help the site be an ambassador for nature and native species of plants and wildlife we are in the process of restoring," BPDG president Chris Wilson told the Ocean City Sentinel in April. "We are different with a purpose."

Possible plans include construction of a boardwalk, sports facilities, a hotel, an amphitheater and a new fishing pier.

The demolition of the former power plant comes as New Jersey makes a push toward the development of an offshore wind farm. Danish energy company Ørsted's Ocean Wind I project off the coast of Atlantic City has been touted as capable of powering more than 380,000 homes in South Jersey. The project has faced a number of hurdles related to its costs and legal challenges from opposition groups in South Jersey's coastal communities.

Earlier this month, Ørsted pledged to have the wind farm operational by 2025. As part of that plan, a cable carrying electricity generated by the windmills would connect to the electrical grid at Beesley's Point using the property's existing infrastructure.