It’s finally here …summer has returned! I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful weather we have been having lately, and enjoying all that our beautiful Monmouth County has to offer – beaches, parks, lakes, rivers, boardwalks, lighthouses, museums, theaters, historical sites, restaurants and much more. Our tourist season is in full swing, and according to early estimates, we are paced to match or exceed last year’s numbers, providing economic stability here in our region.
Speaking of tourist season, I am happy to report that the dredging of the Shark River is set to restart in the next few weeks, getting us closer to increasing the recreational side of the Shark River corridor as well as restoring the channels for our commercial fishing industry. As you may know, the dredging had started late last fall and was halted on January 1, 2016, due to state regulations in place to protect spawning and the early life stages of winter flounder and anadromous fish. The dredging project is moving along nicely due to a coalition of State, County and local leaders that effectively advocated for the project, including Senator Jen Beck, Committeeman Randy Bishop, County of Monmouth, Board of Chosen Freeholders, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJ DOT) Office of Maritime Resources, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP), and the governing bodies of the participating municipalities including Neptune City, Neptune, Belmar, and Wall.
Summer is finally upon on – the weather is cooperating and the first official day of summer is just around the corner.
So proud to have been at Asbury Park High School last week for the announcement of the partnership between the Asbury Park School District and Brookdale Community College for the Asbury Park-Brookdale Promise. This program targets all Asbury Park High School students and is designed to give them access to college readiness programs and scholarship opportunities in an effort to increase the number of students attending college. This will be achieved by granting scholarships to attend Brookdale to any of our students who have been enrolled at Asbury Park High School for all four years. This is a great accomplishment for the Asbury Park school district as this will enable more students to come closer to realizing their dreams of attending college.
Freeholders Tom Arnone and Serena DiMaso with County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon and Sheriff Shaun Golden at the Farmingdale Memorial Day Parade
What an incredible Memorial Day weekend! It was the perfect setting to remember and honor those that have served our country, and those that continue to protect us today. We recognize those individuals who sacrificed to provide us with the freedoms we enjoy every day – we are the land of the free, because of the brave.
I would have loved to have attended all of the parades throughout the county, but unfortunately I could not do so as several of them are at the same time, so I attended as many as I could. I had the honor of walking in the Bradley Beach and Union Beach parades on Saturday, as well as the Matawan parade on Sunday. Monday was a very busy day, as I attended the memorial ceremonies for the Freehold, Oceanport, and Ocean Township; and then walked in the jammed packed Farmingdale parade. The attendance and welcome received this weekend at all the events was overwhelming.
This week we are finally experiencing some warmer temperatures and the sun has returned to us! Let’s hope the weather continues to improve as we head towards our “unofficial” start to summer, Memorial Day Weekend.
We’ve been pretty busy at the County the past several weeks. I am extremely pleased to say that despite all the rain we have had, the paving portion of the Ocean Avenue project is finished, with striping and some handicap accessible ramps yet to be completed. We are well paced to finish this project before the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Great job by our Public Works and Engineering staff in overseeing the logistics of the project, as well as the contractor, Stavola Contracting Company based in Tinton Falls.
It’s officially spring and here in Monmouth County the signs of the changing season are all around us. Flowers are blooming, the baseball, soccer and lacrosse fields are bustling with excitement, and the big yard clean ups have begun in all our neighborhoods.
Here in Monmouth County, our calendar is filled with activities for all ages. As we enter our spring tourism season, I hope our residents and visitors will take advantage of all the events our beautiful county has to offer. The winter is over and it is time for everyone to get outside and to enjoy the abundant events in the beautiful parks located here in our County, from the beautiful shores to the woodland trails in western most part of Monmouth. With the weather warming up, many events will begin to take place in the great outdoors. At Historic Allaire Village, the Early Spring Flea Market at Historic Allaire Village takes place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 9 and the Spring Festival is on April 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and Deputy Director Serena DiMaso at the Asbury Park St. Pat’s Parade
The past two weekends have been filled with fun festivities throughout the county and the list of activities throughout the rest of March includes parades, plays and performances. March is the month to celebrate the end of winter by getting outside and with two holidays happening this month, there are plenty of great events to choose from.
There’s nothing like a parade to usher in the month and the St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Belmar on Sunday, March 6 was the perfect place to do it. Those of you who were in attendance may have seen me, along with my colleagues, on our 2016 float – it was a great way to participate in the parade – we had the best view! I also had a great time at the Asbury Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 13 walking with Freeholder Serena DiMaso, along with Mayor Moor and members of the Council and look forward to keeping the festive spirit alive in the Highlands by walking in their parade on March 19. March 20 marks the first day of spring, so take the kids outside (if weather permits) and join the Monmouth County Park System for a nature walk at 10 a.m. at the Manasquan Reservoir to look for signs of the new season. Log onto www.visitmonmouth.comfor a full list of activities throughout the County.
By Freeholder Director Arnone, Thomas.Arnone@co.monmouuth.nj.us
Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
Mother Nature may be playing tricks on us with the weather again – she’s bringing in extremely low temperatures, then teasing us with spring like weather in the 60s this past weekend. But there is no trickery here at the County, I made a promise last month that I would provide our residents with a much needed tax break, and I am holding true to the that statement, along with my fellow freeholders by proposing an overall tax cut of $4.5 million. This is the first time, I believe, that freeholders have ever decreased taxes to the county residents.
We propose collecting $302.5 million from property taxes, down from $307 million just last year. At the end of 2015, Monmouth County completed the sale of its two care centers which eliminated the yearly operating losses that the facilities have incurred for several years. The public auction of the two facilities generated $32.4 million in revenue; approximately $18 million more than was projected.
Happy New Year Everyone. I am extremely pleased to have been selected as Freeholder Director for 2016. It is an honor once again to represent the board in this capacity. Last week at our annual county re-organization meeting I had an opportunity to briefly review my department’s accomplishments; ones that I believe have provided significant income to our county as well as savings to the taxpayers.
First I would like to thank my family for their support along the way as well as my, fellow Freeholders for their continued dedication to our county. In addition, I would like to wish all our Mayors best of luck as we begin the New Year.
Believe it or not, the holidays are upon us. We’ve been extremely fortunate as the weather has been mild thus far, allowing many of us to continue to enjoy the outdoor activities we love to do throughout our beautiful county – from the beaches and parks, to local tree and menorah lightings, to shopping in our beautiful downtowns and local shopping centers.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to shop local, I encourage all of you to do some this holiday season when buying gifts for your loved ones. I was happy to join our Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, on Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving), along with my fellow Freeholder, Serena DiMaso, on a tour of several local businesses in the Red Bank region. We were pleased to see these businesses thriving on that start to the holiday shopping season, as well as the crowds we saw on the bustling sidewalks throughout the downtown.
It’s a proven fact that independent and locally-owned businesses recirculate more revenue locally. The spending done by a local business to operate (including inventory, utilities, equipment and salary to employees) directly impacts the economy within our own community. In addition, the indirect impact happens as employees and business owners spend their income within our local economy, recirculating dollars through their earned money.
What an incredible fall season we have experienced thus far. The weather has been extremely kind, allowing us to enjoy the amazing landscapes Monmouth County has to offer. I hope that you attended some of the fall events and festivals held in our beautiful county parks and at our beaches, and also those coordinated in your hometowns. The leaves have changed and that means after leaf collection is completed, the county will begin to prep for the upcoming winter season. We are already collecting salt and materials to safeguard our over 1000 miles of roadways when the inclement weather presents itself. The county will be ready as always.
In the meantime, you may have noticed our red trucks mobilized throughout the county as the Public Works and Engineering staff have been busy the past few months, working hard to enhance the infrastructure and efficiency of our roadways, bridge and culvert structures, traffic signals and natural resources.