Tuckerton Leader

Tuckerton Council Convenes in New Borough Hall

By PAT JOHNSON | Sep 07, 2018
Photo by: Pat Johnson CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Sue Marshall and the Tuckerton Council on new dais in the meeting hall that also serves as the courtroom: (From left) Keith Vreeland, John Schwartz, Council President Sam Colangelo, Marshall, Doris Mathisen, Mike Santo and Ron Peterson.

The Tuckerton Borough Council formally met in the new borough hall at 420 East Main St. on Tuesday for the first time.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Mayor Sue Marshall. “We still have a few bugs to work out but overall, it’s very nice.”

The new meeting room has comfortable chairs for the public, bright blue carpet, a great sound system and acoustics, and three large screens for presentations. The meeting room also serves as the municipal court and has up-to-the-minute security measures, including a bulletproof dais.

One of the things that made the transition from the old borough hall is the mural painting of Tuckerton’s historic Main Street.

Marshall had also obtained a military memorial “Killed in Action” red flag from the Burlington County Clerk that will hang with the U.S. flag outside the hall.

The first meeting in September was a short one. Councilman John Schwartz announced he met with a representative of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and was told that permits are ready for the opening of two “confined disposal facilities” for the receiving of dredged material that will come from residential lagoons in Tuckerton Beach. One is on Story Island and the other is at the head of Tuckerton Creek off Great Bay Boulevard.

The borough accepted the resignation of part-time tax collector Effie Presley, and hired a full-time tax collector, Laura Cohen, at an annual salary of $60,000. Cohen most recently worked as the tax collector, chief financial officer and registrar for Harvey Cedars.

“She is a trained and licensed tax collector and also holds many other certificates,” said Business Administrator and Clerk Jenny Gleghorn. “She’s a plus for the borough.”

Councilman Mike Santo read the fire and ambulance report for August: there were 33 calls; 16 were fire and rescue calls, 17 were emergency medical calls. Santo than asked if Lee Eggert Sr., vice president of the fire company, had anything he wanted to report.

Eggert gave a long list of what he called false statements made on social media that reflect badly on the fire company and the borough. One of these included a statement that the town had to pay a fine to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) when an inspection turned up a violation. Eggert said there was no fine or cost to the borough and the matter was cleared up.

“Anyone who cares about the borough of Tuckerton are out running calls and saving lives,” he said. “There is no corruption in the Tuckerton Fire Company. And I don’t appreciate the comments.

“We’re funded by the people of Tuckerton,” he said.

Councilman Ron Peterson also had a misconception he wanted to clear up. “People are saying the market value of the homes in Tuckerton Beach is going down. That’s not true. The market in Tuckerton Beach is climbing at a very good rate, and when the lagoons are done (dredged), it will go up even more.”

Marshall said she had also seen a lot of chatter on social media about the borough purchasing the decommissioned National Guard Armory 177 on Route 9, opposite the Grapevine Restaurant.

“When the armory became available, the government first offered it to the state police, and they did not want it. Then they offered it to the NJDOT (New Jersey Department of Transportation), and they only wanted a portion of the building – and the U.S. government said it was all or nothing. Then they offered it to us.”

She then gave a number of reasons why the borough is considering purchasing the armory. Number one was the borough owns 3.2 acres behind the armory that is land-locked. If the town purchased it, that would open that property up and the public works department could relocate out of the flood zone on Green Street. Number two was using part of the land for a dewatering site for dredge material. Number three; the building could be used as a community center and a better recycling yard.

Marshall also said that because the borough doesn’t get taxes from the building now, it wouldn’t change.

“If it went to a public sale, then it would be sold to a developer. And we would have a strain on our school, and taxes would go up,” she warned. “The appropriate thing to do is to appraise the building. And if the state accepts the (borough’s) offer, it would be ours.”

During the public forum, independent candidate for council Skip Deckman said he had put up questions about the armory on Facebook. “I asked you months ago (about the council’s intention to purchase the armory) and you flatly denied it ... Everything with you is smoke and mirrors.”

Deckman said he had talked to the appraiser and the caretaker of the armory. According to his inquiry, it would cost $1 million to fix it up.

“Like we can buy this? Why? Why put a million into it to make it habitable?”

Marshall said she disagreed with Deckman’s timetable on the events. “After there was so much chatter on social media, we decided maybe we should look into it again.”

Eggert then said he thought it would be a good idea to move the water and sewer departments out of the Tuckerton Creek flood zone. He remarked that he could remember another time besides Superstorm Sandy when the borough lost a couple of police cars in a nor’easter flood (December) in 1992.

Referring to garbage trucks, plows and such equipment, he said, “I’d like to see those vehicles out of the weather.”

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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