Tuckerton Receives Grant for Shoreline Protection

By PAT JOHNSON | May 08, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson Members of U.S. Coast Guard Flotilla Auxiliary 72 Tuckerton/Little Egg Harbor receive a safe boating proclamation from Tuckerton Mayor Susan Marshall.

Tuckerton — Tuckerton Mayor Susan Marshall opened the May 6 municipal meeting by reading and then presenting a proclamation designating May 19 through 25 as Safe Boating Week to members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 72, Tuckerton/Little Egg Harbor.

“The majority of boating accidents are caused by human error or insufficient education,” she noted, “and over 90 percent of boaters who lost their lives by drowning were not wearing a life jacket.”

The mayor and council recognize that the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary supports and provides recreational boating safety programs and services for the public, which result in a safer boating environment, she read. “I encourage a year-round effort to promote safe boating and urge all those who boat to ‘Wear It’ and practice safe boating habits.”

The mayor welcomed Councilman John Schwartz back to the meetings as he had been attending via Skype while in Florida for the winter.

She noted that the Tuckerton Pride and Celebration Committee had honored past councilman James Edwards during the annual Arbor Day Celebration. Edwards died two years ago. “He was a friend, mentor and councilman who was known for his honesty, wisdom, dedication and friendship,” she said in part.

The Economic Development Committee had run its first Restaurant Week, and the mayor and her husband had visited 10 of the 11 participating businesses in the borough. “We have a lot of leftovers in the refrigerator,” she joked. She reported the Dockside Café has expanded its hours to include Friday and Saturday night dinners, and she had cut the ribbon for Lady Magpie’s Tea and Curiosities grand opening at the Tuckerton Seaport.

During the business portion of the meeting, the council voted on Ordinance #5 of 2019, which restricts the planting of invasive species such as bamboo and English ivy. The ordinance allows for fines if such a species impacts a neighboring property.

The Environmental Council and the Construction Department are developing a brochure of native species suitable for planting.

The council adopted the 2019 municipal budget of  $5,071,550, which includes a 3.8-cent increase to bring the tax rate to 73.7 cents on $100 of assessed value. For an average home, worth $214,195, that equates to an increase of $70.56 annually.

No one spoke during the public hearing.

Councilman Schwartz announced the borough had received a state Department of Environmental Protection grant of $350,000 for a Living Shoreline project in Tuckerton Beach.

Councilman Sam Colangelo said the Environmental Committee had received news that it will receive a state Clean Community award for Tuckerton’s Adopt-a Highway program, instituted this year on North Route 9. Colangelo thanked Patricia Everson for leading the effort. Another cleanup is scheduled for May 23; volunteers are welcome but must watch a short video on highway safety beforehand.

Colangelo also made a statement that borough employees working collecting garbage or at the public works yard deserve respect from the residents. “If your recyclables are missed, maybe you have trash in the bin, or perhaps you did not put them out early enough. Call and express your concerns, but not in a vulgar way. There is no reason to curse at them or drop the F-bomb on our personnel ... Have some respect for the people trying to serve the residents. Your first reaction should not be what I described.”

The borough is ready to go out to bid on a lease to allow a cellular communications company to construct a monopole in the public works yard. Typically the borough would receive a minimum of $30,000 rent for the 600-square-foot lease, said Borough Attorney Christopher J. Connors. Other cells could locate on the tower and would contribute to the borough. The winning bidder would construct the tower.

Borough Police Chief Brian Olsen said an Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Traffic Enforcement grant was to pay $60 an hour for officers participating in a countywide Route 539 safe driving initiative that begins on May 15 and continues to Sept. 1, or until the grant money runs out.

Tuckerton Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Dale Eggert said the fire company recently received a $3,302 matching grant from the DEP’s Division of Forest Fire Service. In April the fire company responded to 19 fire calls and 15 calls for the ambulance. “In the last six months we’ve responded to nine structure fires, three in town and six out of town,” said Eggert, who noted it was a busier than usual six-month period. We usually run 11 a year, both in and out of the borough,” he said.

He also said the fire company has two members in training at the Ocean County Fire Academy and one in the Atlantic County Fire Academy. In addition, two members have been accepted into the National Fire Academy for two weeks of training.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Tuckerton Beach Association President Peter Gioiello asked if the dredging permit had been “kicked back.” Schwartz answered that the DEP had asked for additional administrative questions to be answered, such as whether the borough has acquired a temporary easement across the AT&T property, and the borough is waiting on that.

The borough does not yet have an agreement to lease the Gomez property for a disposal or dewatering site but has obtained the easement for the Zito property and did not have to pay anything for it.

That means the shoreline protection project for the end off Little Egg Harbor Boulevard can proceed now. But since the DEP is the lead agency for that property, it will construct it, and Tuckerton is “hands off,” said Schwartz.

Ann Marie Sweeney from South Green Street said she had researched whether a council member must be physically present to be able to introduce and vote on measures rather than by Skype, as Schwartz has done the past few years during the winter months. She believes he does have to be present and has made a complaint to the New Jersey Ethics Commission. She also asked if the minutes of the meetings between October and May while Schwartz was in Florida reflect the fact that he was present by Skype – virtually present, not physically present.

She also asked if there is a requirement that a council member be a resident of the town and was told yes –he or she must have their domicile in the state.

Connors, who is also a state senator, said being present by Skype “violates no law or regulation; it’s perfectly legal.”

Mayor Marshall asked if the minutes had to be changed. Connors said no.

“I’m shocked and surprised,” said Sweeney. “I talked to them today (ethics commission), and they said the minutes should be changed.”

“We’ll look into it,” said Marshall.

A contingent of residents of Heron Road complained about the street now that the contractor, P&A, has completed its work and left town. The company put a skim coat of asphalt, down but now that has settled. The residents wanted to know when the street would be paved correctly. Borough Administrator Jenny Gleghorn said public works was supposed to have put some stone down at one person’s property at the apron, but because of the nor’easter Sunday night, workers were busy elsewhere. She apologized and said she would look into it. Gleghorn said she was the person to speak to about another problem with a car-insurance claim for a damaged front-end while P&A was digging up the street. As for the top coat paving, Gleghorn said Earle Asphalt has the project, and when speaking with that manager, she was told they want the road to settle a bit more and might be ready for paving the end of May. The residents will get a week’s notice, she said.

Nadine Maddox, chairwoman of the Economic Development Committee, said the Tuckerton and Beach Haven Ferry Project would receive an award for tourism during a May 9 breakfast in Trenton.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper

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