Monmouth County will have a new 250 acre park in Aberdeen and Marlboro Townships, despite the fact that Port Authority of NY/NJ backed out of a commitment to fund $5 million to purchase 87.8 acres of the open space from a developer who had approvals to build 250 homes on the property.
Today, the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders approved funding the entire $10.6 million land purchase from Aberdeen/Wilson Associates, LLC through the County’s Open Space Trust Fund.
“The Port Authority appears to be unwilling to honor its commitment of sharing to fund a project that will preserve significant portions of the Matawan Creek watershed and eventually provide a 250-acre park,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the County Park System. “The Port Authority’s offer to help move this deal forward appears to have been withdrawn. Fortunately, Monmouth County has an invaluable Open Space Trust Fund to finance the entire purchase.”
State Senator Joe Kyrillos praised the Freeholder Board, the NY/NJ Baykeeper and Aberdeen Township for making the park a reality and slammed Port Authority for backing out of the deal.
Monmouth County Clerk M. Clair French address the Monmouth GOP convention. Chairman Shaun Golden in background. photo by Art Gallagher
An impressive crowd of over 400 Monmouth Republican County Committee members gathered on Saturday morning to nominate their candidates for State Assembly, County Clerk and Freeholder. The size of the crowd was impressive not only because of the weather but because the results of the convention were a foregone conclusion as there were no challengers to the incumbent Assembly Members, Freeholder or Governor Chris Christie’s nominee for County Clerk.
Free of any competitive tensions, the mood at Colts Neck High School was upbeat, friendly and proud among the grassroots leaders who came out for Chairman Shaun Golden first nominating convention. Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso noted both the size and enthusiasm of the crowd. “This crowd is almost as large as last year’s convention when we had a competition for the freeholder nominations,” DiMaso said, “We’re in really great shape and that is a testament to Shaun’s leadership.”
Baby…it’s cold outside! We’ve experienced near record lows this year. With these freezing cold temperatures comes additional problems besides just trying to stay warm – the low temperatures in combination with precipitation and other weather conditions causes havoc on our roads. The County Public Works Department has been very busy the past few months, ensuring that county roads are safe to travel on by pre-treating and plowing on a consistent schedule and staying ahead of the accumulation. By pre-treating our roads, the snow and ice begin to melt as soon they hit the asphalt and also makes plowing easier and much more efficient.
In addition to keeping the County roads safe, our Public Works Department has been helping municipalities throughout our county as well through our County Shared Services program. We have recorded cost savings across several municipalities by providing plowing services as well as access to the pre-treatment solution. There are many outstanding projects currently in the upstart stages in the Shared Services arena.
The West Front Street Bridge (S-17) that connects Red Bank and Middletown will close to vehicular traffic on or about Monday, January 5, 2015 and remained closed through Sunday May 17, according to a statement from the Monmouth County Department of Public Information and Tourism.
Also known as Hubbard’s Bridge, the structure which was built in 1921 is being replaced with a modern bridge that will compliment the look an function of the nearby Coopers Bridge which connects Red Bank and Middletown on Route 35. The project started in August of 2013 while keeping the bridge open to cars and trucks. The closure announced today signals that the 16 month project is entering its final phase.
Pedestrians will continue to be allowed to use the bridge during this period and bicyclists will be allowed to walk their bikes over the structure.
“America is too great for small dreams.” Ronald Wilson Reagan
Freeholder Tom Arone
2014 is coming to a close and I find myself reflecting upon my year as Freeholder of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders. I am very conscious of the tremendous support Monmouth County receives from each of the municipalities and residents. I receive phone calls and emails daily from members of local governing bodies as well as from informed conscientious residents. Through this open door policy which is how I choose to run my office, it is apparent that just like me we all share a common interest; and that is to continue to create new ways to maintain Monmouth County as one of the most wonderful places to live. Your unending support has helped me and the rest of The Freeholder Board accomplish many great things, and I would personally like to thank all of our local governing bodies along with our residents for the part each played in making 2014 a great year. Being mindful of the exemplary leadership of not only my fellow Freeholders but of each and every municipal governing body, I consider myself blessed to be working amongst so many hard working individuals whose main goal is always what is in the best interest of the residents.
Monmouth County is made up of an array of dedicated, accountable and knowledgeable people comprised of all those working in the offices and schools to those maintaining the roads in and around the county and everything in between. Each and every one of them takes on the responsibility of getting a job done and doing it right. For that I recognize and am thankful for all county departments for keeping Monmouth County as beautiful and safe as it is, and for making it the most desirable county to live- in the State of New Jersey.
Our Grow Monmouth Façade Improvement Program continues to be popular. We are still accepting applications and approving projects to help businesses improve the look of their building. We could not be more pleased with how the program is going. As part of the Grow Monmouth Initiative this past weekend there was a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of Little Dog Brewing, a microbrewery located on Steiner Avenue in Neptune City. Along with Mayor Brown, I was happy to attend and cut the ribbon at the brewery’s opening. The Grow Monmouth Business Roundtables will be continuing after the holidays. I look forward to getting back out to discuss the needs of Monmouth County’s business community.
We continue to assist our municipalities with ensuring the safety of Monmouth County and its residents. A few ways in which this is accomplished is through the upkeep of county roads as well as the upkeep of traffic signals. There was a traffic signal activation ceremony conducted a few days ago at the intersection of County Route 40A (Memorial Drive) and Evergreen Avenue in the Boroughs of Neptune City and Bradley Beach. The Activation Ceremony marked the completion of this much anticipated project. As liaison to the Department of Public Works and Engineering, I am happy to have been able to be a part of it from its inception through fruition.
The 1st Annual Pound the Pavement for Purple 5K Run/ 2 Mile Walk for Pancreatic Cancer was held Saturday, November 1st and was a tremendous success despite the unpredictable weather conditions presented by Mother Nature. In fact, I believe the cold temperature along with the wind and rain only contributed in helping to make this race not only a memorable one but an extremely positive and inspirational experience.
First and foremost on behalf of Neptune Township Committeeman Eric Houghtaling and me, we would like to thank everyone who worked so diligently on putting this race together and ensuring its success. To begin with, a tremendous thank you to the outstanding joint committee mostly comprised of Neptune Township and Monmouth County employees, namely Michele Narciso, Tiffany Bailoni, Sandra Petersen, Carina Santos, Mike Zarro, Fred Rummel and Darlene Di Leo. Thank you also to Gail Temple and my wife Chickie Arnone who also worked hard on the committee. All of these people were instrumental in helping Committeeman Eric Houghtaling and me bring this effort to fruition.
UPDATE: August, 27, Curley pulls nursing home sale resolution
Freeholder John Curley called this morning to say that he has pulled his resolution to sell the Monmouth County owned nursing homes from this week’s agenda. County CFO Craig Marshall is on vacation. Curley wants Marshall available to address all of the financial concerns regarding the proposed sale. Curley expects to reintroduce the resolution in September.
Reductions in Medicaid payments for long term care under the Affordable Care Act have led to increasing deficits at Monmouth County’s two government owned nursing homes.
The John L. Montgomery Care Center in Freehold and the Geraldine L. Thompson Care Center in Wall are owned and operated by Monmouth County’s government. Property tax payers have been subsidizing the long term care of the elderly, disabled and infirm residing in these facilities for decades. From 2007 through 2013 the cumulative deficit funded by Monmouth property tax payers was about $40 million. Despite cost cutting measures and union givebacks, the combined deficit this year is on track to exceed $13 million plus the cost of repairs and capital improvements required to keep the facilities in compliance with state and federal regulations, due to cutbacks in the amount that Medicaid pays for patient care under ObamaCare. 98% of the patients at Montgomery and Thompson are insured by Medicaid.
Freeholder John Curley has been pushing his colleagues on the all Republican Board of Chosen Freeholders to sell the nursing homes for years. Every time the issue gets traction or public attention, patients in wheelchairs and staff members of the nursing facilities show up at Freeholder meetings and plead with the Freeholders not to sell the facilities. The patients’ stories are heart wrenching. The declarations of love for their patients by the staff members are moving.
Monmouth County Freeholder Candidate Larry Luttrell partying with a model and squinting like Frank Pallone in Atlantic City in February, 2013. facebook photo
If you’re a Monmouth County Democrat thinking about a career in government, working on Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo’s freeholder campaign could be hazardous to your ambitions.
Luttrell and Grillo told the Asbury Park Press that the fact that Freeholder Director Lillian Burry’s 2011 campaign treasurer, Bill Bucco, was given a raise and a promotion after three years in a county administrative job where he streamlined operations and found $200,000 in revenue due the county that was never collected is “politics at its worst.”
I must have missed their press release condemning Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto’s new job as a “consultant” with ties to South Jersey Democratic Boss George Norcross, which Preito somehow manages to do while collecting six figures from his three government jobs.
Recently a Mayor’s Luncheon was held in Belmar for the purpose of giving Belmar businesses a forum to meet and discuss tourism and how it benefits businesses at the Jersey Shore. I was happy to attend and join Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty in greeting the local business owners and to share with them what the County Tourism Division does to promote the industry. The luncheon was held at Ollie Klein’s Waterside Café located on River Road in Belmar.
Additionally, we are currently working toward entering into a shared services agreement with Hightstown to utilize the Monmouth County Vehicle Wash facilities. This is yet another approach to help reduce costs and redundancies in the delivery of public services, while adding some additional revenue for the county to help offset our operational costs. Because Hightstown already has a shared services agreement with Roosevelt Borough for trash collection which is hauled to the Monmouth County Reclamation Center, it makes good sense for them to utilize the county vehicle wash facilities as a value added shared services while they are in the area. Howell Township has just been added to our MODIV property tax assessment shared services system. This system has been recognized for innovation and excellence in public service by the Harvard Kennedy School and Moody’s Investor’s Service for its role in streamlining the delivery and implementation of the tax assessment process. Certain municipalities have seen savings of up to 65% through this shared service.