By Neptune City Councilman Andrew Wardell
The rules, policies, and procedures of good-governance have almost all been thrown to the wayside in Neptune City under the current majority. An alarming trend which started January 1st as policies have been created without cooperation, special committees formed without proper resolutions, the intentionally keeping of information from other elected officials, and threatening of borough employees.
This is just a fraction of what has been occurring these past months in Neptune City and calls to rectify the issues have fallen on deaf ears, no matter how hard I have tried. Yet, what transpired at the September 9th Workshop and Council meetings was the final straw and residents have a right to not only know, but be concerned.
The purposes of workshops are to discuss possible future projects, policies, and general government business. It is highly irregular for a workshop item to be added to a Council meeting’s agenda on the same day. In fact, it has never happened in my four years on council. However, Councilmember Renee decided to amend last night’s agenda to add a Resolution entering the Borough into a “Rehabilitation” program which encompasses the whole town.
This occurred after I brought up several concerns regarding the scope of this proposal. Yet, instead of allowing all members to digest the topics and answer concerns, she forced an immediate vote which passed without dissent from her party members.
This begs several questions. Why does this need to be pushed through so fast? Is it because Councilmember Renee needs to rush through to add to her campaign literature? Was this vote decided beforehand and if so, was it in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act?
Whatever the reasons, residents of Neptune City need to be alarmed. This plan deems the entire borough, your property and mine, in need of Rehabilitation. Do some of my colleagues supporting this consider Neptune City a terrible place that every square inch needs to be rehabilitated? What will be the perception of future homebuyers and the negative impacts it could have on current homeowners?
Every concern I’ve had about the scope, size, and ultimate cost, have been completely dismissed. The final costs of this “plan” is over $40,000 with the first phase $18,000, paid to ARH, a company recently fired by Long Branch for “non-performance.” Our Land Use Board planner cited that the costs incurred by ARH were astronomical and that they could’ve done the same plan for fractions of that cost. I’m not opposed to improvements. In the past, successful redevelopments have been undertaken with the full cooperation of the property owner with specific parcels of land, but not with such a broad brush.
What does this mean moving forward and for Neptune City’s future? History shows that Rehabilitation leads to redevelopment and then comes condemnation, otherwise known as eminent domain. This may not be my Democratic colleagues’ plan, but then again I don’t believe they have a plan other than “let’s just win in November and then push through more” without thorough consideration.
Andrew Wardell is a Neptune City Counilman and the Republican candidate for Mayor.