Stafford News

Jul 26, 2017

Cedar Bonnet Island residents have experienced several unexpected interruptions in their water service since June 22 as a side effect of the ongoing Route 72 Causeway Bridge reconstruction project. After the most recent sudden loss of water on Monday, July 17, homeowner Amanda Devecka-Rinear called Stafford Township to ask what was up.

Stafford Township Administrator James Moran said vibrations from the pile driving associated with the bridge project were to blame for a breach of the water main that runs under the bay between CBI and Ship Bottom. Workers were figuring out how to secure the connection. He added the N.J. Department of Transportation’s contractor, Schiavone Construction Co., had been helpful to the town in making repairs.

“We know we need to replace that water main” that feeds Cedar Bonnet from Ship Bottom, he said. “We’re hoping we can get that project underway … before we have a tragic event.”

While life on Cedar Bonnet Island is never dull, no one enjoys unpredictable water problems. “It has been annoying,” Devecka-Rinear said. “I’m trying to be a trouper.”

In other water-related news, Stafford Township mayor and council adopted on second reading a $2 million bond ordinance for the purposes of directional drilling, water main installation and repaving in the area of Newell Road after elevated mercury levels were detected in multiple residential water wells.

While the township generally does not get involved in testing wells, Moran said, five were done in this case, given the cause for concern. A resident had discovered the mercury when he had his well tested in order to list his home for sale. The Ocean County Health Department then came and tested all 26 properties. The work of laying the piping for the new main began June 24. Now, Moran announced, water main has been installed along Newell, Ridgeway and Pfeiffer avenues, and two-thirds of the homes along that stretch are now connected to public water. Repaving the roadways will take place in the fall. The cost to connect is $3,600 per home, which residents have up to 90 days to pay; financing is available.

Newell Road resident Tom King, who owns one of the properties directly affected by the mercury contamination, asked if a hose adaptor could be placed on a nearby hydrant so he could access potable water until the connection was done and the matter resolved. Officials said they were unsure but would look into it.

No reason for the mercury contamination has yet been identified.

Shortly after the incident arose, Moran had explained the town’s quick action was thanks to several recent capital investments. “We now have the equipment to do these projects ourselves, rather than contract them out,” he said. “We want to be proactive in protecting our citizens, and because we have the capability to do the project, we believed it was best to go ahead and just get it done.”

At the regular meeting of July 18, Moran also addressed the delay of residents’ tax bills, which have been held up due to state budget issues over school aid. As of last week the town was still waiting for certifications from the state of New Jersey to come through. Meanwhile each school district had to file with the Ocean County Board of Taxation, which would then release the tax rate in order for towns to prepare the actual tax bills.

“I couldn’t send out the tax bill if I wanted to until the state releases it electronically to us. That was done today. As soon as Vital can put them out, our electronic transmission company, … (tax bills) will be coming.” A grace period has been granted to residents to pay their bill.

— Victoria Ford

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