The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey State Legislature honored Bob Burlew, the recently retired code enforcement and construction official for Union Beach and Keyport, at the Freeholders regular meeting which was held in Union Beach last evening.
Burlew is a real life hero to thousands of Bayshore residents who suffered devastating losses in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. His compassion, commitment and encyclopedic knowledge of the government’s byzantine recovery regulations has eased the burden for many throughout the years long rebuilding process.
The Freeholders presented Burlew with a proclamation declaring July 27, 2017 “Bob Burlew Day” in Monmouth County and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon presented a Joint Resolution of the State Senate and General Assembly recognizing Burlew’s accomplishments and contributions.
Freeholder Serena DiMaso choked up as she recalled an incident days after Sandy hit when she was volunteering in Union Beach. “People were lining up to get back into there homes, but the town was still closed,” DiMaso recalled. “There was one insistent woman who kept asking Bob, ‘Why can’t I go home, why can’t I go home?’ Bob was as devastated as she was when he told her, ‘Your house isn’t there anymore.’ I’ll never forget that moment.”
O’Scanlon recalled the numerous conversations he had daily with Burlew in the days after Sandy hit as they were marshaling the resources to provide temporary food and shelter for residents and preparing for the recovery. “At first we thought, ‘Wow, it is going to take us weeks to recover from this storm.’ The next day we thought, ‘This is going to take months.’ After a few days we realized the recovery would take years.”
Freeholder Tom Arnone, who works in property management when he is not governing Monmouth County, noted Burlew’s competence and knowledge. “Bob’s compassion and commitment was evident to all who saw him work,” Arnone said, “But I got to work with him out of the public eye. His knowledge of construction, the flood planes, and the state and federal regulations is unbelievable. The residents of Monmouth County were very fortunate that Bob was on the job when we needed it the most.”
Prior to honoring Burlew, the Freeholders presented Mayor Paul Smith and members of the Borough Council the new Monmouth County Flag.
Smith and members of the council thanked the Freeholders for all of their assistance to the Borough, before, during and since Sandy. Freeholder Director Lillian Burry said, “When we come here, it feels like home.” Freeholder John Curley noted that Union Beach is always the most welcoming and cooperative community to the Board when they take their meetings on the road.
Councilman Charlie Cocouzza acknowledged Arnone, as liaison for Shared Services and the Public Works Department, and Public Works Director John Tobia for the department’s ongoing support of Union Beach. “I like we use every shared service you offer,” Cocouzza said.