Category Archives: dredging

Shadow Lake Dam Breached: Portion Of Hubbard Rd Washed Away And Toxic Lake Sediment Spilling into the Navesink River

Big trouble for those living in the Shadow Lake / River Plaza area of Middletown, I’ve just been told be a friend who lives on West Front Street that the Shadow Lake Dam was breached as a result of Hurricane Irene.

I have been informed that the earthen berm is nearly gone and the water rushing from the lake has washed away a large section Hubbard Rd. and is spilling it’s arsenic rich and heavy metal contaminated toxic sediment into the Navesink River turning the river a dark muddy brown color.

I guess there wont be much of a need to dredge Shadow Lake after all seeing how there wont be a much of a lake left if the breach of the dam isn’t fixed and the lake waters contained soon.

Also a major concern for the area residents I have been told, is that the recently replaced section of Navesink River Road near Hubbard was also washed out and will need to be replaced again.

This will cause a huge problem once school begins next week, it will be extremely difficult if not near impossible for kids to get school with these roads needing to be closed for an extended period of time.

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Filed under dredging, hubbard road, Hurricane Irene, Middletown NJ, navesink river road, Shadow Lake

>Middletown Still Kicking Around Shadow Lake Political Football

>I was glad to hear after last week’s Middletown Township Workshop meeting that nearly $2.7M maybe freed up soon by the state, for the long talked about Shadow Lake dredging project.

According to what I had been told of the meeting and a subsequent article posted on MiddletownPatch.com it seems that Middletown resident and NJ State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13) found a way to partially fund the estimated $4+M dredging project by co-sponsoring legislation that will provide funding through the state’s Environmental Infrastructure Trust (EIT) fund.
The legislation that originally created the Environmental Infrastructure Trust fund was intended to provide special financing, in the form of a low-interest loans to companies and municipalities looking to clean up environmentally contaminated “Brownfields” in order to return them to tax rolls.
Kyrillos’s bill that would provide funding for Middletown under the EIT, still needs to be voted on by the full Senate before moving onto the Assembly for approval and signature of the governor, which is not a given. I wouldn’t exactly call Shadow Lake an environmental “brownfield” that needs to be cleaned up so it can be returned to the tax rolls.
But what disturbs me here is the fact that Middletown Republicans are still playing the equivalent of political football with this issue and sending mixed messages with the intent on blaming state and local Democrats for delaying the dredging of the lake and contributing to it’s skyrocketing cost.

Officials ran into a project roadblock when the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) made it clear that, when removed, any dredge spoils gleaned from the lake would have to be transported to a safe, licensed off-site location, dried out and then taken to a legal dumping ground, Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore said.

Township Attorney Brian Nelson had said that where the township had no luck with the last administration’s state DEP officials, the new DEP principals seem more receptive. The township governing body is all-Republican, as is the Christie-appointed administration.

“We can’t do anything without permits,” he had said a couple of months ago at a Township Committee meeting. “But the DEP is working with us much better than it formerly did. Before it was clear they were not giving us permits.”

Now, knowing that the funds are being secured, Mayor Fiore said that the next step would be to go out to bid for the project.

“Thanks to the efforts of Senator Kyrillos the residents of the communities surrounding Shadow Lake can rest easier knowing that a project more than a decade in the making is nearing reality,” said Fiore. “In addition to the senator’s efforts in helping secure financing for this project, he has assisted the township with the DEP to find a qualified site outside of Middletown for disposal of the dredge spoils.”

It wasn’t Democrats that said this project was going to be an easy slam dunk just before the 2007 election and how it wasn’t going to cost residents a single dime (but proposed bonding for it) because local college students would perform surveys of the lake and other services for the township for free. And that the rest of the cost for the dredging would come from grants or planned to have the arsenic, heavy metal and carcinogenic contaminated spoils buried within Stephenson Park without proper permits from the NJ DEP. It was Gerry Scharfenberger and the rest of the Middletown Republicans who were attempting to secure last minute vote from residents who live around Shadow Lake by proposing such a plan.

Local Democrats want to see Shadow Lake restored but want it done smartly, cost efficiently and with in the law. The last thing Democrats or residents want is to clean up a lake only to create an environmental hazard somewhere else, namely Stephenson Park.
The NJ DEP was right not to issue permits for that and insisting that the dredged spoils be carted to a properly secured landfill.
And the following comment left on the MiddletownPatch article by a Mr. Dave Venture seems to agree:
Coming from someone who is an environmental professional who grew up on Shadow Lake and lived there for 22 years and still fish it weekly, I can tell you this issue has been twisted and misused by various media groups as well as private landowners on the lake . The lake has become naturally shallower in some areas which is normal succession for a man-made lake. The problem of increased vegetation is in large part not due to the depth of the lake. The lake is surrounded by residential development and Shadow Lake Village all of which contribute tremendous amounts of nutrient runoff to the lake in the way of fertilizers etc. The lake also sits in an area that was all farmland until the middle part of the 20th century. The groundwater may still be pumping nutrients from the historic farms into the lake contributing to the eutrophic environment. This is very similar to what is happening on a much larger scale in Barnegat Bay. The issue of depth of the lake and water quality/aquatic vegetation are two separate issues that have been blurred. If the goal is to make the lake deeper than I agree dredging is the only option. If the issue as they have proclaimed is to decrease the aquatic vegetation then dredging is not a cost-effective or ecologically sound solution. Green stormwater infrastructure and practices must be instituted to prevent the runoff that is making the lake an overly enriched ecosystem. State the goals clearly before dumping 4mil into a project.
So it’s about time now for Middletown’s “non- partisan” Township Attorney Brian Nelson and other finger pointers to point the finger at themselves. Too often Nelson acts like he is the 6th member of the Township Committee and gives bad, partisan advice that cost the town tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees because he has a vested interest Republicans maintaining control in town and it’s about time members of the Township Committee stop taking his poor advice.

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Filed under Brian Nelson, dredging, Environmental Infrastructure Trust (EIT) fund, Joe Kyrillos, Middletown Patch, NJ DEP, Shadow Lake, Stephenson Park, Tony Fiore

>Transparency Once Again Turns Opaque in Middletown; APP: Middletown missed loan deadline for dredging of lake

>Very interesting article that was online at the Asbury Park Press the other day which I have been meaning to post about. One of the big issues of this past years election was the issue of Shadow Lake and whether or not the lake was going to be dredged any time soon, according reporter Kevin Penton it now doesn’t seem likely to happen before 2012.

It seems as though, the low cost loan that Middletown had planned to apply for that would cover some of the costs of dredging was never applied for. The loan application needed to be handed in by Oct. 4th to meet the deadline for possible funding and it was never sent.
What I find most disturbing about this, is how Gerry Scharfenberger and other Middletown GOP members (remember Tony Fiore’s letter) mislead many residents that live by and around Shadow Lake into believing that dredging was eminent if only they could get approval from the DEP to bury the contaminated spoils in near by Stevenson Park.
Scharfenberger attended a number of meeting with residents of Shadow Lake Village while campaigning in October and never once mentioned that funding for the dredging of the lake was a problem. He lead all to believe that as soon as the DEP agreed to Middletown’s demand of using Stevenson Park as a dumping ground for the spoils the project would begin.
With this latest revelation about the dredging of Shadow Lake, it is sad to say once again that transparency of those in charge in Middletown is sorely lacking and is turning, as resident Jim Grenafege has said at many Township meetings this year, opaque.
It just goes to show that Republicans in Middletown will do and/or say anything in order to retain their position of power in town even if it means that they have to deceive others to get it.
My thanks go out to Kevin Penton for following up on Shadow Lake and bringing this information to light, it shows residents that those elected in Middletown like to play fast and loose with certain information that they deem a possible threat to them.
Eventually residents will wise up and show the likes of Gerry Scharfenberger and the others the view form the other side of the doors at Town Hall, the view looking in from the outside.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, dredging, Gerry Scharfenberger, kevin penton, NJDEP, Shadow Lake

>Slippery Scharfenberger Avoids Answering Shadow Lake Question On Technicality

>During the public comments segment of the Middletown Township Committee meeting this past Monday night, resident Marilyn Michaels asked Gerry Scharfenberger if he had attended a meeting with Cindy Randazzo of the NJDEP and others on Oct. 21, 2010 in Trenton, which she thought may have been a conflict of interest between his duties as an elected official and his new job as Director of the Office of Planning Advocacy (she also brought up a number of valid concerns that I will deal with later).

This exchange between Ms. Michaels and Gerry Scharfenberger is a classic example how slippery Scharfenberger can be when he answers questions from residents or reporters. His responses are classic examples of deception through omission, that many seasoned career politicians engage in.
I posted on Nov.9th that representatives from T&M Engineering, State Senator Joe Kyrillos, the new Director for the Office of Planning and Advocacy (Mayor) Gerry Scharfenberger and several Middletown Township representatives met with Randazzo and other reps from the DEP on October 21,2010 in Trenton to discuss dredging concerns as related to Shadow Lake. This post was based on information that was forwarded to me by a third party that wished to remain anonymous.
Most of what was posted was factual, what wasn’t as it turned out was the location of the meeting. My third party source had mentioned that Randazzo expressed concerns about coming to Middletown for this meeting and wanted it held in Trenton. My source then added that the meeting took place in State Senator Joe Kyrillos’s office. It was then assumed by myself and the informant that the meeting took place in Trenton, when in fact it took place at Kyrillos’s office here in Middletown.
Why Scharfenberger had to make an ass out of himself over this is anyone guess, I suppose by squabbling with Ms. Michaels over this small point, he thought that it would discredit her in someway. What it did do was to further discredit him in the eyes of reporters there covering the nights event.
When asked about the Shadow Lake meeting afterwards, he admitted to reports that the meeting did take place on Oct. 21st but it never happened in Trenton, He confirmed the fact that it happened in Middletown.

The other valid concern Ms. Michaels brought up during her comments in front of the Committee was, if during his re-election bid, did he know if anyone may have contributed to his campaign, knowing that he was going to be or had recently been appointed as the head of the Office of Planning Advocacy Governor Christie.

She felt (as do I) that if someone was to have contributed to his campaign this year or in future years, that they may expect some special treatment if ever they may need special consideration for the state office that he now represents.

That assumption on Michaels part is, as I said, a valid concern. It goes to the heart of the issue of whether or not Scharfenberger acted ethically or not by not divulging information about his appointed during the campaign. It should be explored now and watched for in the future.

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Filed under Cindy Randanzzo, dredging, Gerry Scharfenberger, Joe Kyrillos, Middletown NJ, Middletown Township Committee, NJDEP, Office of Planning Advocacy, Shadow Lake

>Was The New Director Of The Office of Planning Advocacy "On The Clock" When He Was Acting As Middletown Mayor During Meeting With NJDEP Officials?

>Back on October 21st a meeting took place at the office of Cindy Randazzo, the Director of NJDEP office of Local Government Assistance, in Trenton for the purpose of discussing options for dredging Middletown’s Shadow Lake.

In attendance at this meeting were various DEP personnel that had concerns with the dredging plans presented by the Township, representatives from T&M Engineering, State Senator Joe Kyrillos, the new Director for the Office of Planning and Advocacy (Mayor) Gerry Scharfenberger and several Middletown Township representatives.
From what I understand the meeting wasn’t very productive, the two sides (Middletown verses the NJDEP) couldn’t come to an agreement concerning the scope of the project or what to do with the spoils. The NJDEP made it clear that burying contaminated spoils from the bottom of Shadow Lake in neighboring Stevenson Park was out of the question and recommended that the project be downsized to fall within budget constraints while the Township, lead by the new Director for the office of Planning Advocacy (Gerry Scharfenberger) and Joe Kyrillos insisted that dredging the whole lake and burying the spoils near by was the only way of dealing with the lake. As you can imagine, no resolution to this issue was forth coming and another meeting was planned on for a future date.
After learning this yesterday I began to wonder about Scharfy’s role during this meeting. As the Director for Planning Advocacy, Gerry’s duties are “asking questions about policy, overseeing planners and GIS specialists. To help spur economic growth and revitalize the economy by, for example, reusing commercial properties” he has stated and the purpose of the Office for Planning Advocacy is to stimulate new growth and business opportunities for those wishing to do business in the State. His position is a full time job, 40+ hours a week, that pays him $95K a year.
What was he doing on “company” time, at a meeting with Joe Kyrillos, the NJDEP, Engineers from T&M and other from Middletown discussing Shadow Lake in the middle of a work week?
He certainly wasn’t there to promote smart growth or new business opportunities I can tell you that as require by his job title, he was present representing Middletown as it’s Mayor.
It’s nice to know that in his new position as Director of Planning Advocacy, his boss the Governor, allows him time to pursue other interests that are contrary to what he is suppose to be doing as Director.
I am sure that the 1,200 State employees will be happy to learn of this as well. Here they are losing their jobs while Gerry is running around the city of Trenton wasting tax payer dollars, acting as Middletown’s mayor when he should be in his office somewhere, asking questions about policy, overseeing planners and GIS specialists to help spur economic growth and revitalize the State economy.
Do you think he left early that day or did he stay late to make up for the time he was conducting Township business on State time?

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Filed under dredging, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, Joe Kyrillos, NJDEP, Office of Planning Advocacy, Shadow Lake, Trenton

>Tony "The Fibber" Fiore Is At It Again: Letter To Shadow Lake Residents Is Filled With Falsehoods

>Middletown’s acting Deputy Mayor, Tony “the Fibber” Fiore is at it once again. You would have thought that after being caught fabricating portions of his resume that was submitted to the Township (which was presented for consideration for the Township Volunteer Bank) shortly after he moved here from Carteret, he would have learn his lesson. You can’t make false and misleading statements about yourself or others and expect to get away with it.

In this latest case “the Fibber” authored and sent to resident of Shadow Lake Village (on his own dime supposedly) a letter accusing the lone Democrat on the Township Committee, Sean Byrnes, of begin an obstructionist against the rest of the Township Committee’s efforts to dredge Shadow Lake and accused him of “…cutting secret deals to line the pockets of private contractors to pour chemicals into Shadow Lake that will never solve the problem…”.

Fiore actually insinuated that Byrnes was a lair by including in this letter “Sean Byrnes says he wants to bring the Army Corp of Engineers into help the Township with Shadow Lake. There are a few problems with this. First, as State open waters, the NJDEP’s permission is still required for the Army Corp to dredge the lake. Second, the Army Corp only dredges navigable waters-Shadow Lake is not a navigable waterway.”

This letter makes Fiore out to be the buffoon and partisan politician that he is and demonstrates that Fiore and the Middletown Republicans are only out for themselves and not interested hearing from others on how to fix problems. You can see the letter for yourself >>>Here

In response to his colleague on the Township Committee, here is what Sean Byrnes has to say about Fiore’s claims and accusations:
… First, he suggests that I did not vote on dredging for Shadow Lake. That’s correct, because when the ordinance was voted on I was not yet elected to the Township Committee. His letter would lead you to believe I voted against dredging. This is not true. Second, he claims that the Army Corps of Engineers does not have jurisdiction here and cannot take on this project. Here, Mr. Fiore should have checked his facts. While the Corps has traditionally handled the maintenance of navigable waterways, they do now have a responsibility for Ecosystem Restoration. You can check this link on the web for more information:


I don’t think these representatives would ask for a meeting if they did not have a program that might address the problems with the Lake.

Lastly, and most disturbing to me, Mr. Fiore contends that I am “lining the pockets” of a contractor to treat the Lake. For the record, this “contractor” has had a contract with the Township for 15 years. The Township, unbeknownst to me, reduced the scope of this contractor’s contract limiting his treatment of vegetation to the most Western portion of the Lake. This may explain the rapid growth of vegetation of the last few years. My request to him to submit a contract for 2011 designed to attack the vegetation growth was an effort to address this problem while we wait for dredging. While Mr. Fiore appears to oppose this treatment of vegetation, I believe it is necessary and his characterization of it as “pouring chemicals” into the Lake is misleading…

Well then, so much for the final attempt at an “October Surprise” from Fiore and the Middletown GOP, they have shown once again with this letter, that they can not be trusted with telling the truth to residents and are desperate to retain as much power in town as possible.

It seems as though Sean Byrnes is the only one representing the best interests of Middletown, whether it be not voting to support this years budget that included a whopping 13.8% increase to the Municipal tax rate or here in this instance, providing a common sense solution to a problem that has been lingering under Republican rule for 3 years now.

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Filed under Army Corps of Engineers, dredging, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, October Surprise, resume, Sableminded, Sean F. Byrnes, Shadow Lake, Shadow Lake Village, Tony"the fibber"Fiore

>Potential New Plan For The Dredging Of Shadow Lake Would Include the Army Corp of Engineers

>In this video, Middletown resident Marilyn Michaels, presents information to the Middletown Township Committee about the new township tax rate and the potential use of the Army Corp of Engineers to develop a plan for the dredging of Shadow Lake that would include ideas to get rid of the arsenic laced dredged spoils from the bottom of the lake that would minimally impact to the surrounding area and be more cost efficient than potential plans now being discussed and considered by the major of the Township Committee at the recent Oct.17,2010 Township Committee meeting.

Marilyn Michaels lives on the edge of Shadow Lake and has recently been a leading voice behind its preservation and restoration.

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Filed under Army Corps of Engineers, dredging, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Shadow Lake, tax increase

>WHO REALLY CONTROLS MIDDLETOWN? AND WHAT ARE THEY DOING?

>I received today and interesting email from various Middletown friends and residents. Attached to the email was a well thought out article/letter that points out a number of issues that are effecting the Township of Middletown. The article itself was not signed by any individual so its author at this time, remains anonymous. I hope, that at some point the author steps forward because this person is directly on point with their assessment of the cronyism and the political games that take place here and contribute to the ever increasing local tax rate (its not just the schools that are driving the increasing property tax rate) and making it unaffordable for many to live in Middletown:

WHO REALLY CONTROLS MIDDLETOWN? AND WHAT ARE THEY DOING?

For years, the Democrats have maintained that the Township of Middletown was run more for the benefit of the local Republican Party and its supporters than for taxpayers. Questionable decision-making, political appointments and poor management of large-scale projects raised questions about whether important decisions were influenced more by party bosses than by taxpayers. Democratic efforts to open government and increase transparency were opposed, including opposing the televising of Township Committee meetings and passing a resolution that forced video cameras to the last row of the Township Committee Meeting Room. In this article, we examine this history by reviewing the last decade of decision-making by a Township Committee, which has been solidly in the control of the Middletown Republican Party. We emphasize that this critique focuses on the local Republican Party and the issues that concern Middletown taxpayers. We agree with many of the steps taken by Governor Christie, and Committeeman Byrnes has repeatedly stated his support for the Governor’s spending cuts. Indeed, we believe that the fiscally conservative ideals espoused by the Middletown Democratic Party cut across party lines. Although our political leanings are clear, the facts set forth below speak for themselves. If we are to survive this difficult financial crisis and hope for future prosperity, than we must reach across party lines and work together to cut taxes. But to be clear, we don’t think this Mayor and his supporters have what it takes to achieve that goal; and here’s why.

THE TAX MAN DOES NOT COMETH, HE IS HERE

Mayor Scharfenbeger with the support of 3 of his fellow Republican Committee members voted this July to increase the tax levy on the municipal portion of Middletown’s budget by 14% in 2010. This record-setting jump in the tax levy is unprecedented and comes at a time when many taxpayers in Middletown have suffered financial setbacks. Lost jobs, frozen wages, cut backs in hours coupled with increased costs of health care and flood insurance created a perfect storm of financial pressures on families. Despite these pressures, Mayor Scharfenberger, who sharply criticized the Board of Education budget, now proposes a budget that is far worse. Just this year, the Mayor: 1) refused to create a Finance Committee, 2) refused in January to bid out the Township’s Engineering work (instead handing it to the same politically connected firm that has had it since the 1970s), 3) refused to force the Township Attorney to work on a fixed retainer, 4) refused to commence layoffs or furloughs until late in the year, 5) refused to consider making the Arts Center self-sustaining, 6) refused to consider disbanding the overhead-laden Sewerage Authority which pays its Director (a former Republican Mayor) and its Commissioners pay, pension and health benefits worth almost $200,000 per year, and 7) refused to consider televising Township meetings to allow greater transparency in government. Since coming to office he has raised taxes in Middletown over 25%. The financial treasure of this Township — taxpayer dollars — have been used to perpetuate a political machine whose tentacles extend into every corner of government. Until that reality changes, the yearly tax increases will continue.

POLITICS LURKING IN THE SHADOWS OF A LAKE

In 2007, the Democrats had secured one seat on the Township Committee and were running 2 strong candidates. A victory for those 2 candidates would shift control of the Town government to the Democrats for the first time in decades. From the Republican side, something had to be done. In October, Just prior to the election, Mayor Scharfenberger and the Township Committee, in a 4-1 vote (Democrat Patrick Short the lone dissenter) voted to undertake a $4.0 million dollar project to dredge Shadow Lake. As someone who managed projects for a living, Mr. Short voted “no” because he had seen little evidence of a plan for the dredging and had many questions. The majority rushed this vote as part of a desperate effort to solidify Mayor Scharfenberger’s voting base in Shadow Lake Village. It worked well. Mayor Scharfenberger was narrowly re-elected, that well-connected engineering firm started spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on the project, and the law firm of the Republican Party Chairman would get the bond work. Unfortunately, in their rush to get votes, the Republican Majority failed to plan for the proper staging and removal of the contaminated dredge spoils, resulting in DEP putting the brakes on the Project and cost estimates for the Project doubling. Today, the Project is essentially dead, the taxpayers are out the hundreds of thousands of dollars in engineering and surveying costs and the residents of Shadow Lake have nothing to show for it.

IF YOUR PROPERTY IS CONTAMINATED, SELL IT TO MIDDLETOWN, THEY’LL PAY TO CLEAN IT UP

Ever wonder where all the money goes from the bonds that Middletown approves for real estate purchases? Bond debt in Middletown went from $48 million in 2001 to $75 million in 2009. Well, first, the issuance of bonds, a complicated legal process, is handled by the law firm of Middletown’s Republican Party Chairman (the same law firm that does bond work for the County of Monmouth along with a paid lobbying contract worth around $100,000). After the law firm takes its cut for the bond work, your taxpayer dollars often purchase contaminated real estate. Consider some recent purchases. Middletown Arts Center (10 years to clean up), COE property (contaminated), and the Mariguchi property on Middletown Lincroft Road (contaminated), and the recently purchased property, adjacent to the municipal complex (contaminated). The municipal complex property, although not recently purchased, is (you guessed it) contaminated. In fact, the Department of Environmental Protection has been trying to get the Township to finish remediating this property for years. The beauty of buying contaminated property is that it allows your hand-picked, politically-connected lawyers and engineering professionals to continuously bill for years and years.

A POLITICAL TEMPLE TO THE ARTS

Middletown has a nice Arts Center at the Train Station. But at what cost? This building was the pet project of a former 17-year Republican Committee member, who served on a Middletown Township Committee with no Democrats, and therefore no opposition. (She is now a full-time County employee earning almost $90,000 whose pension calculation will include her 17 years with Middletown) With no one to question the plan, the all-Republican Committee voted to purchase the Banfield Property, which they knew was contaminated. Over the next five years or so, the Township spent, mostly through new bond issues, $581,803 to purchase the property, and $7,179,551 to improve it. That’s almost $8,000,000 just to get the Arts Center constructed. The Township then leased it to a non-profit for $1.00. The Township continues to support the expenses of the Arts Center. Even with the Township paying all the debt service for the bonds, the Arts Center has utilities and personnel costs in excess of $200,000 per year. And while all this was going on, taxpayers continued to pay our politically-connected engineering professionals tens of thousands of dollars to “handle” the effort to remediate the contaminated property. It took 10 years to remediate the property. Why the Township allowed the Seller to transfer this cleanup liability to the Township remains a mystery. But the greater mystery is why the Township would choose to spend precious taxpayer dollars on such an ill-conceived project.

SOMETHING SMELLS AT THE SEWERAGE AUTHORITY

How much do you now about the Township of Middletown Sewerage Authority? They maintain the waste water collection and treatment system for Middletown. You might be asking yourself why is the Sewerage Authority separate from the Township Government? It’s a good question. The Sewerage Authority has 7 Commissioners, who meet once per month for under an hour. Why does the Sewerage have two more members than the Township Committee, despite having a budget a fraction of the size? Another good question. These members are entitled to a small salary, pension and most important, health benefits. Health benefits for a family can be worth over $20,000 per year. Many Township residents have no health benefits or see money removed from every paycheck to pay for these expensive benefits. Patrick Short shamed the Township Committee into discontinuing health benefits for its members several years ago, but not the Sewerage Authority. In 2009, Committeeman Byrnes introduced an ordinance to eliminated salaries and health benefits for the Sewerage Authority. The Republicans initially blocked this effort and then introduced their own ordinance that purported to eliminate these benefits, but actually grandfathered existing Sewerage Authority Commissioners. The 7 Commissioners who received these benefits are active Republicans, including a former Mayor, party Treasurer, party Vice Chair, etc. Taxpayer dollars have been providing these individuals with the aforementioned benefits for years. Moreover, as long as the Sewerage Authority remains a distinct entity, separate from Township Government, it will need its own lawyers, auditors, outside engineers, etc., all at taxpayer expense. Efforts by Committeeman Byrnes to investigate a merger of the Sewerage Authority and Township Government have been opposed by Mayor Scharfenberger.

THE MAYOR’S ALL TALK ON TURF

As the largest municipality in Monmouth County, our recreations fields should be top notch. For anyone with children engaged in athletics, you know that they are not. The Pop Warner football fields need a major overhaul. Only the incredible efforts of volunteers keep these fields playable. And yet, the Township authorized funds to improve these fields in 2006. Once again, bonds were issued and the law firm of the Republican Party Chairman made money. But after that, nothing happened. Years passed, and as taxpayers paid the principal and interest on these bonds, nothing happened. Poor planning and mismanagement created hostility in the neighborhoods where work was planned. Finally, in 2010, the Township approached the Board of Education about installing turf at Thompson Middle School. When the Board of Education sought more detailed information about the scope of the work and usage of the fields, the Township ended its discussions and decided to build a new stadium complex on West Front Street without ever seeking local input. When citizens complained, the Mayor shifted gears and suggested that the current financial crisis made the project unworkable. The problem with that explanation is that the bonds were already issued, the funds have been received and the taxpayers are paying interest on those funds. So, after spending money on well-connected engineering firms for designs, etc., the taxpayers have nothing to show for this expense. Meanwhile, the fields at Croyden Hall and Trezza Field remain in poor condition. How come so many other towns in Monmouth County can build beautiful facilities with ample parking and turf fields? How many fields could have been improved with the $8.0M spent on the Arts Center?

* * *
As this year’s election approaches, you might want to ask yourself whether you want to continue the management approach of the last decade. Ask yourself whether the record of the elected majority warrants your support. If you would like to continue the pattern of purchasing contaminated properties, increasing taxes, poorly maintained fields, an unnecessary, top-heavy Sewerage Authority and ill-conceived, expensive projects that reward party bosses, lawyers and politically-connected engineers, then vote for Mayor Scharfenberger and his hand-picked running mate.

As an end note I thougth that I should point out that in the above letter the author states that taxes have risen 25% since Scharfenberger has been in office which just so happens to be a conservative number, the true figure will be more accurately close to 42%, if the current budget passes as he has proposed.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, bond counsel, dredging, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Cultural Arts Center, Middletown Township, property taxes, Sewage Authority, Shadow Lake