DOT to Resume Work on 72; PTO to Rally Against Funding Cuts; Senior Scams Topic of Seminar

By Victoria Ford | Oct 09, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Stafford — The New Jersey Department of Transportation appeared to have stalled for a time in its Route 72 roadwork, so Stafford Township Councilman George Williams looked into the delay and reported an update at the regular council meeting of Oct. 1. The engineers’ documents apparently had omitted the gas and power utilities in the specs, so work was paused while that was sorted out, he explained.

In two weeks, crews will be doing the gas lines, then the water. In light of insufficient drainage on Route 72 that has impacted businesses, the DOT has offered to address the flooding issues by giving Element and Mr. Tire new parking lots.

Williams said the projected completion date is Memorial Day or, more likely, end of summer 2020.

Reporting from the Department of Public Works, Councilman Michael Pfancook said crews have created another spillway on Atlantis Avenue, which should reduce flooding problems in the area of Mermaid Drive and Atlantis. None of that work has affected the fresh paving there, he noted.

With regard to the coming fall season and leaf collection, he advised residents not to rake their leaves into the road. The leaves clog up the drains and exacerbate flooding.

He added mosquito spray trucks are out, and residents can “help us help you” by removing any standing water where mosquitos might lay eggs.

During public comment, Ocean Acres resident Dana Schieman wanted to give kudos to the council for its good work and upstanding conduct. The first time she ever voted was for the current governing body, she told them.

She said she was upset when “that crazy article” was published in The SandPaper about Councilman Williams’ social media activity, because she felt his posts were taken out of context.

“The fact that he didn’t stay quiet, he stood up for himself, he didn’t have a tantrum, and he didn’t apologize, because he did nothing wrong” made her feel “even more proud of my vote, proud of who I wanted to sit in these seats, and proud to be a resident” of the town.

Another audience member who came to the microphone was Chris Barlow of Golfview Drive, owner and chef of Big Barlow’s BBQ food truck. Earlier this year, he had asked for help from the town in amending the local ordinance that would enable him to run his business effectively in the town. Since then, he said, he has been cited and "mistreated" by zoning officer Karl Sillitoe, against whom he plans to file a complaint. Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said the proper way to do that is to put it in writing and file it with Township Administrator Matthew von der Hayden.

“We did everything right,” Barlow said. “Everything was good. And I was told multiple times I had to stop working.”

He feels he was wrongfully made to relocate from his original spot; he leased an acre of property and moved his food truck there, but “I was told again I need to shut down. This is the money I feed my kids with, and donate to the town with” (by supporting sports programs and the police department), he said. “I’ve been closed for four weeks. It’s not right.”

He believes a rivalry exists between brick-and-mortar eateries and mobile takeout kitchens such as his.

“Restaurants don’t like us; well, we don’t like them, either. There’s more love that goes into our stuff than they do about theirs. We push every day.” What will happen going forward, he wanted to know. “Is everyone going to keep getting messed with?”

Cipriani reminded him, “The governing body cannot comment at a public meeting about a personnel matter.” Barlow can appeal the zoning officer’s decision if he feels the ordinance is being interpreted incorrectly or unfairly.

Stafford Township Board of Education member Joe Mangino invited the council and the public to a PTO-sponsored rally on Friday, Oct. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Oxycocus Elementary School, to protest the state’s school funding formula. The district stands to lose $2.5 million over the next five years, he said, the effects of which are already being felt as the district faces cuts to instructional staff (meaning larger class sizes) and some enrichment programs. Ninth District officials are expected to attend. The event will be both educational and social, featuring fire pits, apple cider, and s’mores. The Van Dyk Group on Facebook last week announced its support for the school district and urged everyone to do the same. “Good schools, like the ones we have, are the backbone of strong communities.”

Also during public comment, Joe Mazzola of Galley Avenue announced an upcoming senior seminar, including refreshments and lunch, on Tuesday, Oct. 29, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 at St. Mary’s Parish Center on Bishop Lane.

The seminar, which covers scam prevention and offers other useful information and resources for seniors, will have many knowledgeable speakers and honored guests, including Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, an investigator from the state Division of Consumer Affairs, state Sen. Christopher J. Connors and Assembly members Brian E. Rumpf and DiAnne C. Gove; Ocean County Freeholders Virginia Haines, Jack Kelly and Gary Quinn; local police; and representatives from the County Connection, Prosecutor’s Office and Office of Senior Services.

Look for fliers around town; to reserve space, call 609-978-6628 and leave a message with the number of people attending.

Next month, Stafford Township will host a meeting of the Ocean County Sustainability Hub on Monday, Nov. 18, at 6:30 p.m., at the Bay Avenue Community Center. The meeting is open to anyone interested in conserving natural resources, recycling laws, and the future of the Green Team in town, according to Environmental Commission member and Green Teamer Sharon McKenna. One key objective is to establish more municipal Green Teams throughout the county, she said.

— Victoria Ford

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