Beach Haven Accepts $5.7 Million Bid for New Town Hall

Police Officers Had Busy But Routine Summer
Sep 14, 2016

Borough Manager Richard Crane’s report didn’t take long to deliver at the Beach Haven Borough Council meeting Monday evening but it wasn’t short on information.

He reported that beach badge sales for the 2016 season totaled $482,510, a decrease of $12,072 from last year. He added an explanation for at least some of the decrease: sales had been building up to nearly 2015 levels only to end “with a whimper” because of the threat of storms and flooding and the rough surf caused by Hurricane Hermine which, despite a lack of rain, made the long Labor Day weekend practically a washout on the beaches.

Crane turned to the effort to rebuild the Beach Haven Borough Hall, flooded and ruined by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

In the spring the council had rejected four bids submitted to construct the building on the corner of Bay and Engleside Avenues. All the bids, Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis said at the time, had come in at least $1.5 million over the borough’s resources.

The council made changes to the scope and design of the proposed building in order to lower costs. This time around five bidders emerged and a bid was awarded at the council’s agenda meeting of Sept. 7. Santorini Construction, Inc. of Neptune was the winner with a bid of $5,721,000, plus an added $32,000 for exterior lighting. Crane said later that the lowest bid in the spring had been $7.2 million.

The three members of the Beach Haven Council attending Monday’s meeting – Council President James White and Councilmen Charles Maschal Jr. and Donald Kakstis (Mayor Davis and Councilman Robert Keeler were absent) – unanimously passed three ordinances.

One renewed a consent ordinance between the borough and Verizon New Jersey, Inc. that had originally been passed in 1966. It grants Verizon the right to use “various public streets, roads, avenues, highways, and other public ways” in the borough to string its lines to provide service to its customers. A Verizon representative at the meeting asked for a 50-year, or at least a 20- or 25-year renewal but the councilmen turned him down, saying the matter had been discussed extensively and that the council wanted to limit the agreement to 10 years because of rapid technological advances.

A second ordinance required property owners to clearly mark their businesses or residences with street numbers – as assigned by the borough’s tax maps – on the front of their buildings with words or numerals at least three inches in height that contrast to the background. One resident wondered if words should be allowed but the council members said some properties were marked with words already and they didn’t want to force owners to have to replace them.

A third ordinance repealed a former ordinance requiring an annual canvass of dogs in the borough. New Jersey used to require such a dog census, but now the state doesn’t. So the town’s update puts Beach Haven on the same page as New Jersey.

Crane’s report gave an explanation of the borough’s tax bills, which had already been mailed out this summer. He admitted later he had simply forgotten to give that report at the council’s August meeting.

The borough’s total tax rate for 2016 is $1.32 cents per $100 of assessed value. But many taxpayers don’t realize that New Jersey municipalities collect taxes for other entities such as the county and school districts. So although the total tax rate was up 5.7 cents per $100 from 2015, the borough budget was responsible for only 2.1 cents of the increase. Ocean County was responsible for approximately seven-tenths of a cent of the increase. The Beach Haven School District accounted for about six-tenths of a cent. The Southern Regional School District was an additional 2.2 cents of the tax hike.

All in all the total amount of taxes to be collected in 2016 in Beach Haven is $22,326,551, an increase of $1,116,453 over 2015 – an increase of 5.26 percent.

Crane updated the council and residents about the status of the borough’s ongoing revaluation, which will certainly affect Beach Haven’s tax bills in 2017. He reported that the exteriors of all properties in the borough have been measured and photographed. Representatives of the company conducting the revaluation, Vital, headquartered in Trenton, have completed the initial sweep of the borough and are now going out on appointments to view the interiors of the properties. New property values will be mailed to all property owners in early November. Property owners will then have the opportunity to meet with representatives and question their values before the assessment is set in December.

A report submitted by Police Chief Kevin L. Kohler detailed police activity from June through August. It showed that while Beach Haven’s finest certainly don’t have to deal with the problems of the police in, oh, Chicago, they certainly are busy during the summer.

Beach Haven is only a couple of square miles large. But the police drove 7,002 miles in June, 5,745 in July and 9,379 in August. They responded to 1,932 incidents in June, 2,491 in July and 2,402 in August, and issued 192 summonses in June, 477 in July and 246 in August. The cops also issued 440 written warnings in June, 546 in July and 442 in August; and 508, 634 and 555 motor vehicles stops were made in the three months.

There were a total of 46 animal complaints during the three-month period (luckily there were no animal bites all summer) and one domestic disturbance call each month.

Nine adults and one juvenile were arrested in June, followed by 28 and 13 in July and 23 and 12 in August. Two of those arrests in June involved narcotics while 13 were drug-related in July and six in August. There were five assaults in June, a dozen in July and four in August. Two burglaries occurred in August. Eight thefts took place in June, 33 in July and 27 in August.

One drunk driver was busted in June, five in July and two in August. There were nine fights or cases of disorderly conduct in June, 37 in July and 19 in August.

Fireworks attracted the attention of police officers two times in June. Fireworks calls peaked at 16 in July and dropped to six in August.

Six lost articles were reported in June, 17 in July and 12 in August. People must not realize they’re losing stuff because there were 18 found articles in June, 68 in July and 53 in August.

July featured a motor vehicle theft. One firearm application was made in June. One missing person was reported in June, followed by two in July and three in August. There were 10 cases of fraud throughout the summer, four incidents of harassment and 17 liquor license incidents. Malicious mischief kept officers busy six times in June, 12 times in July and eight times in August.

Much of police officers’ time was spent in routine small town activities, including more than 800 property checks every month. There were 22 noise complaints in June, 37 in July and 29 in August. Parking was a problem in the crowded summer borough, with 57 complaints in June, 226 in July and 261 in August.

A dozen traffic accidents occurred in June, with 20 in July and 21 in August. There were 31 pedestrian complaints recorded in June (did pedestrians complain about drivers or drivers about pedestrians?), 38 in July and 42 in August.

Interestingly, there were no curfew violations recorded for the entire summer, something that had once been a big problem – or some people would say a big hassle – in previous years.

— Rick Mellerup

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