Little Egg Harbor Seeks Grant for Community Center Roof
Little Egg Harbor Township has applied for the 2017 Community Development Block Grant from Ocean County. The federal grant, which is administered by the counties, is typically $30,000 to be used to improve senior or low- and moderate-income communities. The township has asked to replace the roof at the community center on West Calabreeze Way.
During the March 9 municipal meeting, Township Engineer Jim Oris told the mayor and township committee that construction of drainage improvements, curbing and sidewalks on Oak Lane should start this spring, but that a single lane will be maintained throughout the project.
The project is being paid through state Department of Transportation funds for roads that are used as bus routes.
There were a number of presentations given during the meeting. The first was a proclamation given to Jon Miller for “Rare Disease Day,” Feb. 28. Miller’s work with the National Organization for Tyrosinemia Awareness helps those afflicted with this rare disorder that affects the ability to digest protein. He estimates only 1,500 people in the world have been diagnosed with this disorder, including his son. “A rare disease or disorder is one in which less than 200,000 are afflicted, and there are 7,000 such diseases, and many of those affected are children,” said Miller. Rare diseases are also called orphan diseases because they get little to no research dollars or attention from the pharmaceutical industry. Miller was pleased to report that 9th District Sen. Christopher J. Connors was able to get the state Senate to vote and declare Feb. 28 Rare Disease Day.
Mayor Ray Gormley declared March to be Colon Cancer Awareness Month. He urged residents to be screened regularly after age 50.
Donna Doherty, chairwoman of the township’s Environmental Commission, and member Robin Burr gave a slide show and talk about the township’s Bluebird Trail. Because bluebirds are cavity nesters, they sometimes need help from humans when they go looking for a nesting site. Last year, the commission installed eight bluebird nest boxes: four at the township recreation fields and four at the county’s Freedom Fields complex. They were able to fledge and band 24 baby birds. “We were told by the bluebird society that if we had one successful nest we would be lucky, and we had several; a couple of birds produced two sets of eggs,” said Doherty.
The boxes were given to the township by the park staff at Ocean County’s Cloverdale Farms Park in Barnegat.
The Little Egg Harbor branch of the Ocean County Library has a new branch manager. Dawn Heyson was introduced to the township by librarian Maggie (Penk) Williams. Heyson comes from the Lacey branch, where she worked for 13 years.
Two more people were added to the Community Advisory Board, Donna Shay and Robert Keleager, bringing the numbers to 24. The first meeting will be March 27 at 7 p.m. in the courtroom/meeting room.
Introduction of the municipal budget that was on the agenda was carried to the next meeting, on Thursday, March 23.
“It takes time for everyone to go through the budget, especially in tough times like we’ve been having,” said Gormley. “It’s important that each committee member take the time to review it and form any questions they might have,” he said, noting that earlier in the day he spent two hours on the budget with Deputy Mayor Barbara Jo Crea and Township Administrator Garrett Loesch. “We want to put together the best package to the community that we can all be proud of.”
The committee also carried to the next meeting a resolution that would further reduce the open space tax rate, currently at a quarter of a penny per $100 of assessed property value.
Lt. Michael Hart gave the police report for the month of February. There were 1,604 calls for service; 22 were motor vehicle accidents, 130 were first aid calls, and police responded to seven fires. There were 26 animal complaints, 39 domestic disputes, one burglary, 36 thefts reported, and 116 motor vehicle summonses were written during 330 motor vehicle stops.
Hart said by comparing the number of calls made in February 2017 to those made that month in previous years, it was clear that service numbers are increasing. In 2013, for instance, there were 933 calls.
Committeeman David Schlick addressed Oris and said he had heard that there was a setback in the living shoreline project proposed in the vicinity of Iowa Court. “I heard that the sediment soil (from lagoons) is not the proper mixture for the $400,000 project you want to do.”
Oris said the composition of the soil was not known at the start of the marsh restoration project. “Most of the soil in the lagoons is 5 percent sand and the rest is silt – not good matter for restoration of a living shoreline. But it is still usable for the thin layer deposition of the marshes,” he said. “We can still dredge it up and use it for marsh restoration as we envisioned all along.”
Schlick then asked if there had been any movement on the dog park. Oris apologized that he was not able to schedule a meeting between his colleague Jason Worth and the township administrator.
Committeeman John Kehm suggested the township look to Ocean County’s recently purchased land on Mathistown Road, or to another open space parcel on Osborn Island.
“We could reach out to the freeholders – and also use it to train our K-9 unit.”
The Mathistown property could be the perfect spot because it is away from neighborhoods, he suggested. “If not a park, then (for) trails.
“How do we fund it? We could reach out to Petco or PetSmart. I hear they have funded dog parks.”
During the public portion of the meeting, a resident of Harbortown Estates asked if the township could look into a no-knock registry. He also suggested that shell companies were purchasing foreclosures and the township might find that drug rehabs or other tenants he considered undesirable might be purchasing the parcels. He added there were communities where people had an influx of real estate salespeople pressuring them to sell their homes.
Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said she had recently fashioned an ordinance for Jackson Township, and she would send the ordinance to the mayor and committee to look over.
In response to Art Mooney’s request, the mayor and committee will work to pressure the state to dredge Little Egg Harbor Inlet so boats can make a safe passage from the ocean to the bay, said Gormley.
Schlick said he had heard that the EPA was going to dredge it.
Gormley said he hoped they could get it done as soon as possible. “Nothing has more impact on our area, Tuckerton, Little Egg and Viking Yacht, which is a big employer in this area,” the mayor said.
— Pat Johnson