Tuckerton Receives Dedication Plaque for New Municipal Complex

Aug 21, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson Mayor Sue Marshall and former Councilwoman Doris Mathisen with the new borough complex building dedication plaque.

At the borough council meeting Monday, Aug. 19, Tuckerton Mayor Sue Marshall asked former Councilwoman Doris Mathisen to pose with the bronze plaque dedicated to the council, engineers and all those connected with building the new municipal complex at 420 East Main Street.

Mathisen was chair of the buildings and grounds committee that led the effort to build a new borough complex to include the police station after Superstorm Sandy destroyed the former police building on South Green Street. The plaque will be installed on the building.

Even before Sandy, the municipality had been looking to expand or replace the municipal building at 140 East Main St. as it was overcrowded and needed work.

In 2014 the borough purchased the property at 420 East Main Street and began reconstruction of the building on it to make a police and municipal complex using $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief funds and volunteer labor. Council President Sam Colangelo and Councilman John Schwartz were among the volunteers wielding hammers and Councilman Keith Vreeland gave of his architectural knowhow to begin the process.

In April 2016 the borough bonded $976,396 to expand the municipal complex that was reimbursed by CDBG funds. The borough has not yet found a new use or a buyer for the old municipal hall. An underground oil tank will have to be removed.

Also discussed at the meeting was the status of the mobile bathrooms at the new South Green Street Park. Due to vandalism, park visitors may soon see portable toilets rather than the mobile bathrooms purchased for the park after Superstorm Sandy destroyed the restroom building and the sewer system at the end of the road. The mobile bathroom is equipped with a holding tank and can be maneuvered out of harm’s way when a potentially damaging storm is forecast.

Councilman Sam Colangelo said the new restrooms have been “heavily used and abused” and will have to be pulled out of service to be rehabbed and inspected for leakage. “It’s a very expensive system we have down there and there’s a good possibility we will have to pull them out of use and install Porta Potties.”

Colangelo reported, “They are overflowing with excrement all over the place. People have been throwing paper towels down the toilets (blocking the system). There have been some handles removed.”

He said the bathrooms are cleaned and re-supplied every day and the tanks are vacuumed out every weekend, but this is costing the town too much money. “The financial part of it is getting out of hand,” he said. “We have to use the vacuum machine and take the material to Ocean County (Wastewater Utility) and pay overtime on the weekends. As nice as it is to have it (bathrooms at the park), after Labor Day we will have to decide whether to leave it there over the winter.”

In a related resolution passed by the council, a $10,756 contract was awarded to Delea Technologies for new security cameras for the new borough complex. The existing cameras will be repurposed at the South Green Street Park.

Other improvements to the police station include a new live scan machine purchased with a $20,300 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant obtained by Business Administrator Jenny Gleghorn.

The live scan machine is used to fingerprint suspects and take mug shots and send them directly to the state for analysis and to search for existing warrants, explained Police Chief Brian Olsen after the meeting. The department has a live scan machine purchased in 2007 that is outdated and the equipment is no longer covered by a warranty. The old equipment can take up to two hours for a reply.

The council passed a resolution authorizing the Municipal Alliance Committee grant of $52,308 through the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Tuckerton Councilman Ron Peterson noted the September retirement of Patricia Mathis, who has served the borough for 30 years as the municipal court administrator. “We thank her for all her hard work,” said Peterson. The council then hired her replacement, Katie E. Lang, a certified municipal court administrator.

During the public portion of the meeting, John Zabriski asked what the borough is doing to revitalize East Main Street. There are a number of empty storefronts and he wanted to know what the town could do to help the owners. He suggested cutting their mercantile tax.

Marshall said, “Very simply, those properties are owned by a private individual who chooses not to have them rented as a business. We have no hold over individuals.”

There is no mercantile tax in Tuckerton and Tuckerton does have a tax incentive for businesses that improve their properties.

In a related issue, Councilman Keith Vreeland said the Historic Preservation Commission received feedback from the state on the commission’s application to become a certified local government by the Historic Preservation Office. The state suggested some modifications to the borough’s historic preservation ordinance that Vreeland will be working on. Becoming a CLG opens up opportunities for grant funds from the HPO.

Frank Fehn of Tuckerton Beach, a member of the Waterways Commission, asked if the borough was doing anything to address the repair of bulkheads in his waterfront community. “Now would be the time to do it while people are down,” he suggested.

Peterson answered that every year, he takes his own boat and personally rides up and down each lagoon, making notes of each bulkhead that needs repair and sending this information on to the borough code enforcement department for further investigation.

— Pat Johnson




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