Little Egg Harbor Hires Acting Business Administrator

Jul 25, 2018

After an executive session on July 12, the Little Egg Harbor Township mayor and committee reconvened the municipal meeting and hired Matthew Spadaccini as acting business administrator at a salary of $75,000.

As part of his retirement settlement agreement, former Business Administrator Garrett Loesch has agreed to come to the office for 10 days to train the new business administrator and chief financial officer. The new Acting CFO, Rodney Haines, was hired for $95,000 during a special July 2 meeting.

According to Loesch’s settlement agreement, he will receive $50,320 in accumulated vacation pay and either $28,749.41 in unused sick pay, paid out in 24 monthly installments plus a one-time payout of $9,583 in consideration of a waiver of claims or rights that he might have against his employer, the Township of Little Egg Harbor, and any and all other officers, employees, representatives, agents, successors and assigns of the township including any claim for attorney’s fees except for those previously filed under Ocean County Docket No. OCN-L-723-17.

On Monday, Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said Loesch had countersued the township over a matter concerning code enforcement officer Michael Fromosky’s whistle-blower suit against him (and the township) that was recently settled outside the court in favor of Fromosky receiving $300,000 from the township's Joint Insurance Fund. Loesch's countersuit was dismissed, but he may be filing an appeal, said Cipriani.

The agreement also states that while in the municipal building, Loesch will not be required to have contact with Fromosky.

In other news, the township amended an ordinance dealing with the dredging of three lagoons and inlet areas of Osborn Island in Little Egg by removing four properties that were undersized or environmentally sensitive from the number of homes (now 336) that would share in a special tax assessment if the lagoons are dredged.

During the open public hearing, Osborn Island dredging committee member Dave Fuller asked for an explanation on the $4 million bonding the township was making available for the project. “There’s a misunderstanding on Osborn Island that the residents will have to pay $4 million.”

At the time of the July 12 meeting, the contract had not yet been awarded.

Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said the township authorized bonding for up to $4 million for the project, but bonding would go forward for only the exact amount spent. During a special meeting on July 14, the mayor and committee announced it had awarded the project to Wickberg Marine Construction of Bedford, N.J., for $1.5 million.

Ed Andrew, also of Osborn Island, thanked the mayor and committee for their hard work. “It’s been a long haul for you people and the people of Osborn Island,” he said.

The committee authorized the use of the Little Egg Harbor sports complex fields by the Pinelands Junior Wildcats for five years beginning June 30, 2018, to June 30, 2023.

The committee authorized a shared services agreement with Eagleswood Township for court services, from Aug. 14, 2018, to Aug. 31, 2028. Resident Art Mooney questioned whether there had ever been a cost analysis done on the shared court services. Mayor Ray Gormley said that before the shared services began years ago, there had been an analysis that showed it to be beneficial to both townships. Cipriani noted that the shared-services agreement could be terminated by either party with 180 days’ notice if it is found not to be beneficial.

The committee approved a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the rehabilitation of the 36 rental units of Harbor House on Radio Road. The company building and managing Oak Lane Affordable Housing, the Ingerman Group, is taking over Harbor House and will continue its use as affordable housing for the township’s affordable housing obligation for the next 30 years. Harbor House has been paying a fee instead of taxes for 30 years; the PILOT is currently $26,707.

Mooney asked if the township knew how many Superstorm Sandy victims had taken advantage of the low-cost housing at Oak Lane. At the time the Ingerman Group was planning Oak Lane, it had also applied for and received  $9.1 million in Sandy Disaster Funds to provide multifamily housing. Because of that funding, victims of Superstorm Sandy who wanted to live in the complex had priority over other applications during the first 90 days when the complex started taking applications.

Mooney also wanted to know how many veterans had been accepted into the complex. The township did not have those figures that evening.

Township Engineer Jason Worth announced the Iowa Court shoreline restoration had received the final approval needed from the New Jersey Tidelands Resource Council, and a target date to accept bids for the project would be July 26 with construction to start mid-August.

The bulkheads at street ends in Holly Lake Park are finished, and the $4.2 million drainage project financed through bonds issued to the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank is well underway, said Worth. He thanked the residents of Lake Champlain Street for their patience in putting up with the construction on the easement with Twin Lakes.

There was no update to report on the Park and Ride commuter parking lot on Route 539 near the GS Parkway interchange, he said.

Committeewoman Lisa Stevens suggested that when the Park and Ride is installed, it should contain an EV charging station for electric or hybrid cars. She also stated there is some open-space money that can be utilized for upgrades to the new veterans park on Radio Road.

A member of the public asked if there was any headway to report on a dog park in Little Egg Harbor. Gormley said an area that was looked at in the Little Egg Harbor Sports Complex might not be suitable because of the Coastal Areas Facilities Review Act permit that was issued many years ago for the park. CAFRA was established to keep stormwater and pollution out of Barnegat Bay and limits certain activities in watersheds. To locate a dog park in the complex (near the headwaters of Lake Pohatcong and Tuckerton Creek) would mean opening up the CAFRA process again, he said. “Once you start clearing, they look at threatened and endangered species, wetlands permits – it reopens all of that,” he said.

During the public portion of the meeting, resident Peter Ferwerda had a complaint to bring to the committee that department heads are given township cars to commute back and forth to work. He suggested the car that has been vacated by retiring Business Administrator Loesch go to the police department, instead of “vehicles being parked on private property overnight.”

Loesch has returned his car to public works, and it is now in the business administrator’s parking space, said Gormley. “It is part of the carpool and can be used by any of the administrators for official town business.”

Ed Gautier, chairman of the township zoning board, suggested that the penalties for failure to maintain properties be doubled each time the same property is issued a violation and has been assigned a penalty. Committeeman John Kehm agreed that it could be costly to send public works to properties to clean them up or cut the grass.

On a lighter note, the winner of the “If I Were Mayor” essay contest was Dylan Laney, who suggested a community pool, speed bumps in streets to protect pedestrians and more walking trails in the woods.

— Pat Johnson

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