Little Egg Harbor Adopts Blue Collar Contract

May 31, 2017

After two years of negotiations, the Little Egg Harbor mayor and township committee adopted a memorandum of agreement with the 28 employees of public works, ASCME #71. The MOA was discussed during an executive meeting after the May 25 regular municipal meeting. Business Administrator Garrett Loesch said he could not give out any details until the union ratified the MOA.

Also for executive meeting discussion were a change to the Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, agreement made with Oak Lane L.L.C., the developers of the Oak Lane affordable housing complex on the corner of Oak and Radio roads; anticipated litigation regarding abandoned property and a possible addition to capital projects that Committeeman David Schlick said could pertain to the township paying some money to help fill the gap in the shoreline restoration project. No formal action was taken on these matters when the meeting reconvened.

During the regular meeting, the committee voted to extend the agreement with New Jersey Future for the continued management of the Marsh Restoration and Resiliency project. According to Loesch, the nonprofit New Jersey Future will identify potential technical and financial resources to help fill the $2 million funding gap in the project.

The mayor and committee also voted to send a request to the planning board to change the designation of Route 539 from low impact development to a Commercial Node Designation of higher density and change the entrance to Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton around the Garden State Parkway. The request originated with the owners of Shooters on Route 539.

Township Engineer Jim Oris had done an analysis of the roof on the community center on Calabreeze Way and determined it will cost $335,000 to repair it. The roof leaked during a flea market earlier in the month and a ceiling tile fell. The township has applied for a CDBG grant from Ocean County to fix the roof, but that amount typically is about $30,000.

So repairs may take some time, and the Friday Night Recreation program for children will move to the Great Bay Gospel Fellowship near the Little Treasures Park on Radio Road.

During the public portion of the meeting, a former volunteer with the recreation committee, Kelly Maher, said her son had been offered cigarettes by another boy outside the community center and last year, her son had fallen and broken his arm there. She felt the community activities board that sponsors Friday Night Recreation was not doing its job in keeping the time safe for participants. She also said only Committeeman John Kehm, liaison to the Community Activities Board, ever showed up from the committee.

Dan “Boone” Wegman, president of the Community Activities Board, refuted her claims that the volunteers were not watching the kids properly. He said her son, his grandson by her previous husband, had been running outside and tripped and fell, something he said no one could have prevented. He also pointed out the many good things the volunteers do for the children: supplying them with games and time to unwind from school, and feeding them pizza and snacks. He did suggest that moving a shed that was next to the community center farther away from the entrance to the building and adding additional lights would help curtail the issue of kids smoking. He said the volunteers periodically patrol the outside.

Kehm then spoke up in defense of the committee members, saying many did show up for special occasions at the community center, and he thanked the local businesses for their donations of food.

The Community Activities Board is again offering drive-in movies in the community center parking lot on the fourth Friday of each month at dusk through October, with free popcorn and soda, he announced.

Resident Art Mooney asked if the township is prepared for hurricane season, which starts June 1. Mayor Ray Gormley said the township was as prepared as it could be, and recommended seniors and others should sign up for the Nixel emergency warnings.

Committeewoman Lisa Stevens said that between the Mystic Island Volunteer Fire Co. and the Office of Emergency Management, the township has acquired three government surplus trucks that can negotiate high water. “That’s being proactive,” she commented.

Mooney suggested providing some type of brochure that could be given out to the seniors in the community.

Ed Andrew of the Osborn Island Taxpayers Association asked if there was an update on the “Park and Ride” commuter parking lot planned for the Garden State Parkway exchange on Route 539. Oris said he would check with the county engineer’s office.

Victoria Simon of Ohio Drive on Osborn Island wanted the committee to know that even though she and her husband were not often at the meetings, everyone on Osborn Island was behind the project to restore the wetlands using dredged material from the lagoons. “We need this work done. We’re behind it 100 percent so we can use our lagoons to their full potential. Other parts of town have their assets; the lagoons are our assets.”

“We are truly staying on top of this,” said Stevens. “There are so many entities involved, the NJDEP, the Army Corps, the EPA. We’re not going to throw in the towel.”

“Everyone is pushing on this,” added Gormley. “We’ve got one location for the material, but we need more locations. The state gave us a grant, but they won’t sign the permits. That’s where we are stuck.”

There will be just one committee meeting during the months of June, July and August, on the second Thursday of each month. They will start a half hour later, at 7:30 p.m.

— Pat Johnson





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