Little Egg Harbor Mayor Reflects on Anniversary of Sandy

Oct 31, 2013
Photo by: Pat Johnson The Little Egg Harbor mayor and committee honored Nettie Decicco during the Oct. 24 municipal meeting for her volunteerism. (From left) Committeemen Ed Nuttall and Gene Kobryn, Decicco, Mayor John Kehm and Committeeman Ray Gormley.

Before Little Egg Harbor Township Mayor John Kehm opened the Oct. 24 municipal meeting, he read a prepared statement marking the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

“It’s been almost a year since Sandy ravaged our town,” he began. “No one will ever forget her unforgiving winds and unrelenting floodwaters. There were boats in streets, empty lots where homes once stood, and debris everywhere you looked.

“It’s different now when you look around,” he said. “With the assistance of contractors our public works department cleared the debris in record time. Hundreds of homes are rebuilt, more are being repaired and raised, and our residents are moving back into their homes.

“I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all of our emergency responders, volunteers and professional. Our local police, fire, emergency medical service, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and the New Jersey National Guard all put themselves in harm’s way evacuating residents. Thanks to these men and women and their selfless actions, many lives were saved. We will remain eternally grateful for their service and sacrifice.

“Once the floodwaters receded and people returned home, the impact of the devastation became apparent. It was at this particularly fragile period of our town that volunteerism came to the forefront and became that beacon of hope. Groups like Operation Blessing and the Mennonites came forward to help our community. They did everything from demolition work to rebuilding our spirit. Countless hours of volunteer labor continued for months and is ongoing to this day in Little Egg Harbor, and we are all the better for it. We were blessed to have these wonderful, caring people in our community.

“There is still work to be done, and progress is being made. We’re changing our tomorrow a little, but every day. That’s the spirit of Little Egg Harbor.”

Kehm then asked for the salute to the American flag followed by a moment of silent reflection.

There were three presentations. Committeeman Gene Kobryn read a proclamation declaring Oct. 15 as Affair at Egg Harbor Day, commemorating the Pulaski battleground and headquarters on the Willets farm site in Little Egg Harbor and declaring them sites of historical and cultural importance.

The mayor and committee honored long-time resident and volunteer Nettie Decicco for her spirit of volunteerism.

And New Jersey Future project manager David Kutner said the nonprofit is making a grants writer available free of charge to help Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton in their rebuilding efforts. The grants writer, Leah Yasenchak, has already started and will split her time between the two communities during the next 18 months.

As part of the tax reassessment of the town, the committee voted to hire Vital Communications Inc. to help the assessor’s office as it prepares property reassessments. The consulting firm’s contract was for $400,000. Chief Financial Officer Garrett Loesch said the total cost of the reassessment will depend on how much work the assessor’s office is able to absorb along with its regular duties.

Township Committeeman Gene Kobryn said the town was probably saving half a million dollars by doing the reassessment within the assessor’s office.

The committee also approved an agreement with Tuckerton to share Loesch’s services on a part-time basis. “Tuckerton is in a bind; they lost their CFO and they needed someone to fill in for the short term, hopefully less than a year. I’ll be working for them on my own time, weekends and after hours,” explained Loesch. The township will be paid $40,000 annual salary for the services of the CFO and will keep 20 percent, or $8,000, paying Loesch the remainder.            

The Little Egg Harbor Police Department hired two part-time per-diem dispatchers, and bought a side loader refuse truck and a rear loading refuse truck. The life of the existing garbage trucks was shortened because of all the debris removal during Sandy, and the township expects to be reimbursed through Sandy supplemental funds.                    

The township received $37,000 for the 2013 Community Development Block Grant that will go toward ADA improvements in the refurbishing of the Sandy-damaged community center.

The township also received $28,000 from the state Department of Community Affairs for post-Sandy planning assistance.  

Township Engineer Jason Worth said the installation of HVAC units at the community center is nearing completion. Out at the Little Egg Harbor Recreation Fields, the Ocean County Health Department has signed off on the food certificate for the snack bar.

Worth said the timeline for calling in the reforestation bond for Cranberry Creek is nearing. A large swath of frontage along Route 9 was clear-cut years ago for a commercial development that never materialized and is now owned by the Amboy Bank.

— Pat Johnson

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