Daily Archives: April 9, 2010

AARP members, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt assess prospects of health care reform bill

From NJ.com

PLAINSBORO — During a tightly-packed hour of polite but blunt questions and answers, Rep. Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) and members of the formidable 50-and-over group, the AARP of New Jersey today discussed the promise and shortcomings of the newly passed health care reform law.

Holt, whose 12th congressional district stretches across central Jersey from rural Hunterdon County to the shore in Monmouth County, gave a brief introduction on the law to members gathered at the state headquarters off Route 1 and people listening in by teleconference. Then he took nearly an hour of questions.

“Now if you are an American you can expect health care coverage,” Holt said. “It can’t be taken away from you when you need it the most.”

A caller from Ridgefield asked how it’s possible such a sweeping bill would not drive up Medicare premiums, which are already too high.

Holt said the law will save money by emphasizing efficiency – by investing in the education of more nurses and primary care doctors who are then better trained to avoid unnecessarily putting patients through procedures. The law “will result in more primary care physicians and nurses. You will be able to have someone who knows you as a total patient, not as someone who needs procedures done,” Holt said.

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Filed under AARP, Congressman Rush Holt, health care reform, NJ.com

Letter: Unheeded Suggestions And Mismanagement Lead To Inefficiencies And Layoffs

Middletown is once again showing its true colors of mismanagement with the layoffs of approximately 40 employees. Layoffs might be required, but the employee making the least amount should not be the first to go.

Recently, Middletown hired a supervisor to oversee crossing guards. Why is this position required when the town has had crossing guards for years? This is just one example of the bloated government that taxpayers are footing the bill for.

There are many other cost saving measures that could take place, which might result in layoffs, but will make the town more efficient. Committeeman Sean Byrnes has presented quite a few suggestions at numerous meetings that consistently go unheeded by the rest of the Committee. Some of these are requiring engineering firms to bid on each capital project the town enters into, consolidate the maintenance operations between DPW and Parks & Recreation, if not with BOE also and consolidating the Sewer Authority into Public Works Dept., thus eliminating duplication of legal and engineering services.

Middletown has a fantastic library system that provides many services that could be provided by the Arts Center. These services are so intertwined in purpose that Byrnes has suggested that the Library and Arts Center be combined. This would offset the high costs of keeping the Arts Center open. Mr. Byrnes even suggested that revenue could be generated by conducting a daycare facility there for commuters.

There are many suggestions that are going unheeded and randomly reducing employees from all departments is certainly not an efficient means of balancing a budget.

Marilyn Tuohy
Pt. Monmouth


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Filed under consolidation of services, layoffs, letter to the editor, Middletown Cultural Arts Center, Middletown Library, Middletown Parks and Recreation, public works, Sean F. Byrnes, Sewage Authority

In Light Of The Mayor’s Decision to Cancel The Lincroft Sports Complex Lets Revist SONIC’s Letter

Now that the Mayor has declared the West Front Street and Croydon Hall sports complexes null and void due to the alleged economic condition, I thought it might be relevant to re post the letter that SONIC wrote to him and the Township Committee back in early February.

After sending Gerry Scharfenberger their letter, SONIC later went on to meet with the Mayor on Saturday February 12th to discuss the issues that were outlined in the letter during his weekly office hours.

The reasons SONIC opposed this development were reasonably stated with valid concerns.

What stands out most to me are the 2 paragraphs highlighted regarding SONIC’S questioning the timing of this expenditure during these current bad economic times. As well as their suggested solutions which the Mayor had promised to follow through with but never did.

It finally took the Governor’s convenient cut in aid (even though for many months the Mayor and others insisted that the cost of the new fields would not effect the current budget process), to get the Mayor to recognize what SONIC had been saying all along.

Expansion of Useage of the Field at West Front Street in Lincroft
February 11, 2010

Dear Mayor Scharfenberger,

I am writing this letter on behalf of a recently formed group of residents from the Lincroft Community who choose to be known as “Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity & Character” or “SONIC” for short. This group is principally comprised of residents in and around the West Front Street soccer fields, however we are receiving support from residents and various groups in Middletown and Holmdel as a result of your announced expansion plans. It is our sincere pledge to work with you and the entire Middletown Township Committee with regard to the stated Mission of the Township, which as per Township’s own letterhead is to “Save a Life, Save a Neighborhood, Save Taxes.”

SONIC has no objection to improving these grass fields making them safer for soccer and other sports but we do not support the amenities to the sports complex. We strongly object to the plans for 70 foot tall lights, an expanded parking lot, chain link fence, public address system, snack bar and storage facilities. This represents an entirely different type and concentration of activity; permanently changing the character and integrity of the neighborhood. These changes or what was characterized as improvements are the main reasons why we feel so betrayed by you, our elected officials, in not fully disclosing your intent and the extent of this development.

The following is a list of the key elements that SONIC believes make the West Front Street site not suitable or appropriate for the intended expansion:

A Serious Traffic Hazard:
The intersection of West Front Street and Crawfords Corner/Everett Road, a county road, already is a heavily utilized traffic area. It serves as a main route into Red Bank, to various elementary and pre-schools, Brookdale Community College, CBA, as well as a route from Holmdel and elsewhere into the Town itself. Increased activity, such as Pop Warner football , will serve to increase traffic in an unbearable way, leading to a major safety hazard for those who reside and worship in the area and for the children living in and around West Front Street Park. Even with the expanded parking lot in the proposal, with the inevitable tournaments or back to back games there will be insufficient parking available. Where would the cars go but spill onto West Front St, Everett Road and side streets? Required or not, we request a traffic study be done by the county.

Drainage:
There will be drainage issues that accompany the current plan to install a drainage pipe through the easement between 109 and 111 University Dr. Natural springs and poor drainage already exist in this location.

Lighting and Sound System:
There is little to no natural buffer for the homes on Tuller Ct, Everett Road and University Drive to protect from the tall lights and P/A system. The homeowners on University Drive are very concerned with the removal of trees which may be necessary for installation of an artificial turf football field, sidelines, and additional buildings. This would further reduce an already insufficient buffer and affect our quality of life.

On Table 19 of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, of the 12 properties considered for a synthetic turf field, West Front Street Park ranked low in topography, available parking, drainage and size. Thompson Middle School and Nut Swamp School ranked considerably better in all criteria. West Front Streets overall ranking was the lowest of all available fields in the area with the exception of Nut Swamp Park.

In addition to the above issues as to why this site is inappropriate, we question the timing of this expenditure. With a projected budget deficit of $5.0MM for our Township this year, when residents are losing their jobs and others are struggling to get by on reduced incomes and reeling from increased property taxes, building a “multi-sport” complex appears extravagant. Not having a CFO and a Finance Committee in place to review all the options is, in our view causing unwise financial decisions to be made. Awarding a nearly $200,000 contract to CMX engineering before plans were appropriately vetted with those directly affected seems equally irresponsible.

Common sense and public duty requires you to act responsibly by pursuing solutions that leverage existing assets for the betterment of the entire community. One solution would be to apply a portion of the $2.5MM in funds the Township received from the bonds issued in 2006 for capital expenditures for Parks and Recreation in order to reduce the deficit and reserve a portion to improve the parking and grass condition of the existing Trezza Field. We already have two artificial turf fields in town and these are not just expensive to build but also costly to maintain. Would it not be better to resume discussion with the Board of Education to seek a Shared Use Agreement for the use of these fields? In reviewing the public correspondence between the BOE and MTC from June through September regarding the Proposed Shared Services/Land Use Agreement, we believe the BOE did their part to work this out. To claim that the BOE “lawyered up” as the reason for the failed negotiations is just not acceptable. Moreover, the President of the BOE has personally agreed to readdress this issue and the members of SONIC urge you to do so.

Accordingly, SONIC respectfully requests that prior to the February 16th Middletown Township Committee meeting a few of our members meet with you in your office to have an open and honest exchange of ideas, preferably this coming Saturday, since you will be available as a result of last week’s snowstorm. It is our hope and desire to resolve this issue for the benefit of the community as a whole and restore our trust in our elected officials.

Cordially,

On behalf of the below representatives of SONIC, et al

Sarah Hammond, Mary Mahoney, Jeffrey Blumengold, Stanley Gelfman, Trish Thomson, Jodi Molasani, Marianne Musella, and Peter Simpson


It’s too bad that in the end arrogance and bad planning on the part of Mayor Scharfenberger and others is what really doomed the sports complexes. If the Mayor and others would have stuck to the orginal plan to improve Trezza Field, the home of the Pop Warner Chargers, instead of insisting that the Chargers except West Front Street Park as their new home, both Trezza Field and Croydon Hall would be having new turf fields installed as we speak and opposition to the turf projects would have been muted.
Instead the Mayor, like a 3rd grader took his fields and went home, blaming the Governor along the way instead of looking into the mirror that would have shown the egg on his face.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Lincroft, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Board of Education, Sonic, sports complex, West Front Street