Little Egg Harbor Purchases Ambulance for Great Bay EMS

Jun 19, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson Members of Great Bay Regional EMS with Mayor Barbara Jo Crea (center).

Little Egg Harbor — Little Egg Harbor Township has agreed to purchase a new ambulance for the Great Bay Regional EMS for $150,000 through a contract with H-GAC Commission Cooperative Purchasing System. The volunteer ambulance service, which serves Little Egg Harbor, Eagleswood and Bass River townships, will kick in $25,000 from its budget toward the purchase. Jay Zimmerman, spokesman for the GBEMS, said the squad answers approximately 3,200 calls for service a year and has between a 77 percent and 83 percent answering rate (first on the scene).

Mayor Barbara Jo Crea said she understands the number of calls puts a strain on the vehicles, and she and the committee members appreciate the hard work and dedication of the volunteers.

The committee introduced four ordinances during the June 13 committee meeting. The first, 2019-11, appropriates $380,000 for preliminary expenses in connection with potential dredging projects within the township and bonding $361,000. This is for the additional testing for pollutants in lagoon mud in areas of Mystic Island.

Ordinance 2019-12 is for improvements to Little Treasures Playground on Radio Road and appropriating $200,000 from the Natural Lands Trust Fund.

Changes to some stop signs in some areas of the township are contained in 2019-13, and changes to administration to allow for a community development and planning director is in Ordinance 2019-14.

During the consent agenda, the committee hired Mark Ellis to the new position.

The committee also voted to temporarily retain attorney Jean Cipriani as township attorney and tax appeal attorney. Cipriani is working for a new firm, Rothstein, Mandell, Strohm and Halm of Lakewood. Cipriani was with the Toms River law firm of Gilmore and Monahan; George Gilmore was found guilty of tax evasion and loan fraud in April.

The township also voted to receive proposals from other law firms for township attorney and tax appeal attorney.

A resolution to hire a dredging company for the Mystic Island lagoon dredging Phase 1 was held over for executive session. After the meeting, the township committee hired Wickberg Marine Contracting of Belford for its bid of $2,301,160. Wickberg is the company that did the dredging of Osborn Island lagoons and has a good track record in the township. There were six bids.

Phase 1 includes the east side of Radio Road in the Mystic Island section of Little Egg Harbor, including Rose Cove and parts of 12 lagoons. Approximately 35,000 cubic yards will be taken from the creek and lagoons as they are dredged to a depth of 4.5 feet.

In April the township bonded up to $4.5 million for the project, to be paid for by a tax assessment on the waterfront homeowners. If dredging costs are lower, then the assessments will be lowered. The east side of Radio Road in Mystic has 527 waterfront properties.

During the regular meeting, Lou Cavilousi, a resident of Mystic Island where the dredging will take place, said he was thrilled the dredging was coming in under budget – apparently he and 100 others on Facebook had been notified of the fact before the executive session to award the bids took place.

He suggested in the future the township bond for much less – closer to what the actual price might be. “You know 25 percent of the people (residents) did not vote for it (the special assessment), but if it had been closer to what it’s going to be, you wouldn’t turn off those people.”

Engineer Jason Worth said the drainage projects for Lake Superior, Nugentown and Forest Edge Drive were moving forward, and the storm drainage work on Maryland Road would begin this week. The timber sheathing for the shoreline protection work on Iowa Court was finished and the stones were being delivered. Planting should begin in two weeks and the whole project completed by the end of July.

Worth will be meeting with officials of the state Department of Transportation on July 19 to discuss projects for its grant program, and he is meeting with public works and the administration to find roads that need work.

During the public comment period, Gary Rizzolo, president of the Osborn Island Residents Association, read a letter from OIRA asking to be part of the discussion on ways to improve the eroding beach at the end of Radio Road. “It is OIRA’s understanding that the township and the county are now working to improve and recover the end of the road and the beach. We also hear that a bulkhead may be installed at the cul-de-sac. The design of this project will be integral to the function and use of the beach and will affect the type and frequency of traffic to the beach year ’round. Obviously, this impacts the beach, which is important to Osborn Island and its residents.”

Mayor Crea said, “The property was purchased with public funds, so there would have to be a public hearing and an opportunity for consultation with the affected residents.”

In response to another resident’s comment about the beach, Worth said the Ocean County Engineering Department had already drawn up plans to tie a bulkhead across the cul-de-sac at the end of Radio Road to the bulkhead of an existing condo complex, Mariner’s Point. The county uses marine grade aluminum for its bulkheads, and the height will be 4 feet above sea level.

Robert Dolsen of Maryland Road asked, “So the bulkhead has already been designed with no input of anyone in the community?”

“It’s a county road; the county dictates it,” said Worth. He further explained there would be an opening to the beach, as there is now.

Crea suggested the public could make an OPRA (open public meetings act) request to see the plans.

Ed Andrew, also of the OIRA, said the main concern is the erosion of the beach itself. “Is there something we can do to address that?”

Worth said he is in discussion with the NJDEP on the loss of the beach. “But the problem is there are 100 shellfish leases just off the beach, and just putting sand on the beach would see that lost again,” he said.

Andrew, a member of the commercial redevelopment advisory board, noted the beach is used as an important asset for development. “It’s our primary (public) waterfront access. The township needs to restore or enhance that; it’s important. The more people travel to the beach, the more people use the stores on Radio Road. We don’t want to diminish what we have been building up for years.”

Committeeman Ray Gormley suggested the area be rebuilt to the 1977 tide line, such as the shoreline protection project on Iowa Court.

Another ORIA member, Dave Fuller, said he had talked with the owner of the clam beds, Dale Parsons Sr., and said Parsons was not opposed to the sand replenishment. He suggested Worth talk to Parsons; Worth said he would.

— Pat Johnson

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