Tuckerton-Little Egg Harbor Leader

Kobryn Seeks Third Term in Little Egg Harbor Election

Republican Incumbent Has Been Local Official 13 Years
Oct 05, 2013
Photo by: Pat Johnson Republican incumbent Township Committeeman Gene Kobryn.

Republican incumbent Gene Kobryn has been on the Little Egg Harbor Township Committee since 2007. Prior to that, he served 13 years on the planning board, the Little Egg Harbor Natural Lands Trust Committee (also known as the Open Space Committee), and the environmental commission, where he was chairman for a number of years. He presently continues service on the township committee and environmental commission.

Kobryn is seeking reelection to a three-year term on the five-member township committee. He is opposed by Democrat Matthew Tomaro.

Kobryn spent approximately two years on the Ocean County Solid Waste Advisory Council. He has spent various terms on the Pinelands Municipal Council and the Pine Barrens Scenic Byways Commission, and is presently volunteering on these quasi-governmental bodies.

He has been vice president of the Little Egg Harbor Republican Organization. He was also the director of the New Jersey Planning Officials Organization.

Kobryn retired as an executive from Sara Lee Corporation’s information technology development department and has lived in Little Egg Harbor for 15 years. He and his wife, Barbara, will celebrate their 24th anniversary this month. They have four grown children between them, and two grandchildren.

“Since 1998 I have demonstrated a true commitment to public service and volunteer work. I guess that’s me,” said Kobryn. “I like to volunteer, it’s my nature. I like the town and I like giving something back to the town. That’s been my objective: making sure we create effective government and continue it. My roots are in this town and I’m not going anywhere.”

This past year has been a difficult one for everyone in Little Egg Harbor, including the public officials. “I can talk about what the team (mayor and committee and administration) has done,” he said when asked; yet he was involved in the recovery effort from day one.

“I volunteered at the evacuation center at Pinelands Junior High School, from the first day to when it closed a week or ten days later. I worked in the cafeteria serving food, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“Our first challenge was debris removal. And having the public works do the work rather than a consultant saved us tens of thousands of dollars. They removed 16,714 tons of debris – and I have to say it was done better than any area town. I was amazed at the speed they did it.

“Since we are talking about the rebuilding issue, since last year we have signed off on 2,100 permits, including 232 demolition permits and 98 house-raising permits. All these are at different stages of completion.

“In the early days of the recovery, we had to adjust our ordinances and codes for height and setbacks, and also to allow people to park their RVs on their property while they are rebuilding – we just extended that another three months.

“I think frustration is the biggest problem overall. As far as property maintenance, we had to obtain permission to enter homes before we could check for mold and other issues – I think people didn’t understand that.

“We did obtain an initial grant of $300,000 from the Robin Hood Foundation and recently another $100,000 for things like appliances. That was an initiative of our mayor.

“We did form a committee to distribute money to people who qualified.

“Some of the information seminars we hosted recently: we met with a FEMA planner for sustainable recovery; a recovery and mitigation planning session; (and) met with New Jersey Future for sustainable rebuilding. Recently we met with business owners and representatives with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Stronger New Jersey Business Grant program. There were two marina owners who were having trouble getting funding and I know Monroe’s Marina and the owner of Great Bay Marina went away from that meeting with some upbeat feelings.

“We also held a house-raising seminar for contractors and homeowners.

“We are filing for FEMA reimbursement at about $4.5 million in reimbursement. Between the business administrator and his staff, plus the work the mayor and committee members have done, must add up to about four to six months of man-hours spent on preparing those documents alone. There is a tremendous amount of paperwork.”

“The business administrator estimates we must have saved $100,000 doing it in-house as opposed to getting an outside consultant. His staff did the bulk of the work. I supported the effort.

“I also want to point out that since I’ve been on the Open Space Committee – and this is over time the town has purchased with the help of the county, state and federal governments – we have saved 1,384 acres. And most of the town’s open space money has been reimbursed. We have another 146 acres under review.”

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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