By Tom Arnone, Monmouth County Freeholder Director
While I could say the last few weeks have been very busy, the truth of the matter is that the County stays busy around the year with ongoing projects and initiatives.
I would like to provide a few updates from the departments I oversee, including the County’s Department of Public Works and Engineering. I’m proud to serve as the liaison to this department and cannot praise enough the tremendous work these – and all – County employees do on a daily basis to maintain the high quality of life we enjoy in Monmouth County.
Last week, my fellow Freeholders and I held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the Heavy Equipment Maintenance Building (HEMB) at the Public Works Complex.
The construction of the HEMB was necessary for our Public Works staff to be able to operate efficiently and, more importantly, safely. Over the years, the services performed by the Department of Public Works and the capabilities of its staff have grown.
The Fleet Services’ heavy equipment maintenance and repair operations were located at the Public Works Complex in a portion of Building B and were sited at this location since 1997, when the building was repurposed for this operation. Originally Building “B” was simply used for the storage of Highway District #9’s equipment and supplies.
Building B’s limited height clearances hampered Fleet Services’ ability to operate efficiently from the very beginning. Due to the height of the building, overhead lifting capabilities were greatly restricted. In order to lift certain pieces of equipment to a height high enough to work on, the equipment needed to be positioned in the center of the building (under the peak of the roof). In addition to the limited height, the overall size of the building was inadequate and the number of service bays was insufficient. To work around these restrictions, equipment was also worked on outside. However, weather often impacted the efficient completion of this work.
In order to permanently address these inefficiencies, a new building, which maximizes employee productivity and continuously supports Fleet Services’ operations, was needed. These operations are essential to ensuring the County’s Department of Public Works & Engineering can uphold its mission to effectively maintain and develop public infrastructure with the utmost efficiency.
Having a suitable facility that is able to handle the substantial amount of maintenance required for not only County vehicles but for vehicles from our municipalities is extremely important. As a Freeholder and liaison to Public Works and Shared Services, it was my responsibility to make sure our phenomenal County staff has the building and tools they need to get the job done.
Keeping on the topic of Public Works and Engineering, my fellow Freeholders and I also held a groundbreaking ceremony last week to mark the beginning of the roadway improvement project for Sharon Station Road (County Route 539A) from Allentown-Davis Station Road (County Route 539) to Allentown-Red Valley Road (County Route 526).
This project is being done through collaboration with the township of Upper Freehold. Both the County and Upper Freehold saw a need for improvements as Sharon Station Road is a well-traveled road. The safety of motorists who frequently drive this stretch of road is top-priority.
The project, which is being completed in stages to prevent detours, will improve operational safety of Sharon Station Road through the construction of a boulevard style roadway for the 1.5 mile long corridor. Roadway improvements include an upgraded traffic signal at the intersection with Allentown-Red Valley Road, a roundabout at the intersection with Allentown-Davis Station Road and the replacement of three existing County bridges designated as U-34, U-35 and U-94 over Doctors Creek and its streams.
The project is anticipated to be completed in approximately 2 years and I fully expect the successful completion of this project with the project team that is in place.
Once again I want to commend the Public Works and Engineering Department for its dedicated and diligent work in advancing various infrastructure improvement projects to keep our roads, bridges and buildings in good condition for the traveling public and users of these facilities.
On a separate note, to continue our efforts to promote the importance of recycling, my fellow Freeholders and I welcomed back the winners of the Recycling Essay Contest to our Freeholder meeting last week for a special presentation.
We were thrilled to present the students with their very own Recycling Rocky Storybooks! These books were illustrated with drawings that were inspired by their essays and also included the students’ own work. It was so nice to see how excited the students were about the books and how passionate they, and their peers, were about recycling and protecting the environment!
Speaking of recycling, The Monmouth County Environmental Council is hosting a roundtable event titled “The Problem with Plastics” from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at the Monmouth County Agricultural Building, 4000 Kozloski Road.
The roundtable discussion with environmental professionals will focus on local initiatives to reduce plastic pollution including successful municipal single-use plastic ban and outreach efforts, local research and information on the recycling process.
At the beginning of the evening, guests will be able to browse tables that highlight local efforts to reduce plastic pollution. Residents will leave the event with tips on how to reduce their plastic consumption; an understanding of what can and cannot be recycled and how recycling really works.
The presentations will be followed with a question and answer session with speakers. The Monmouth County Environmental Council will also present the latest Eco-Tips brochure focused on information to reduce plastic consumption and understanding the recycling process.
As the liaison to the Monmouth County Recycling Division, I am proud of our efforts to promote recycling and educate our residents on the importance of protecting our environment.
Lastly, I’d like to say it is a privilege to serve as your Freeholder Director. Monmouth County is truly a wonderful place to live, work and visit!