Category Archives: Middletown Township Committee

RESIDENTS’ BUSINESS PLAN TO OPERATE POOL CLUB PROFITABLY

Several members of the Middletown Swim and Tennis Club have been working hard behind the scenes to salvage the municipal pool club and protect our community asset from the Township’s misguided and rash plan to close and auction this valuable taxpayer asset.

At it’s January public meeting, the Middletown Township Committee announced the 2012 Middletown Swim and Tennis Club was in jeopardy of not opening due to their claim the pool club ran a deficit for the last three years of their 15-year ownership. The Township Committee cited a drop in membership for it’s revenue shortfall and said they would listen to any viable solution in order to open the swim club this Summer.

The SOS Committee (Save Our Swim Club) was formed to do just that. This group, comprised mostly of local business people, professionals, teachers and residents, collected financial records and Township documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Their finding showed a slight drop in membership but a sustainable membership base all the same.

The SOS Committee has developed a business plan – not only to operate the complex budget – but also provide a surplus necessary for future upgrades, ADA requirements and possible expansion. The plan includes moderate increases for cabana members with separate fees for membership. The SOS business plan also includes modified fees for the swim team, swim lessons, tennis lessons, day camp and daily day passes. Recommendations by the SOS Committee include ways to generate additional memberships and revenue through concession rentals and controlling daily attendance traffic into the pool club.

However, on February 6, 2012 the Township Committee held a planning meeting with motions to dissolve the pool club utility and set into motion the sale of the pool club property with deed restrictions, over continued pleas to slow the process, allowing more time for all interested parties to present their proposals on managing the pool club. They only sprung the news on the 1100+ members early this January in a press release. Prior to the Jan. 6th Town Hall meeting, there was no mention of the Pool utility dissolution…

The SOS Committee has found a sympathetic ear on the Township Committee noting with just 10 years left on the bond service, the annual payment will reduce by $100,000.00 in just 5 years allowing the Middletown Swim and Tennis Club to run at a surplus of over $150,000.00 per year with an operating season only 80 days long. This is even before proposed cost-saving and added revenue plans that the SOS committee has prepared. It does not make any sense why the Township of Middletown should make such a hasty and abrupt decision without looking for solutions. The Township has mismanaged the club for the past 3-4 years and instead of taking the steps to correct their mistakes, they are now looking to sweep all of the problems under a rug. How can we let this happen to our community? Aren’t our children, seniors and families worth it?

The next and most important meeting regarding the Pool Club will be held at Middletown’s Town Hall onTuesday, February 21st at 8:00pm. All Residents and Pool Club members are highly encouraged to attend.

For more information, e-mail: MiddletownSOS@gmail.com or visit our
Save the Middletown Swim and Tennis Club” page on FaceBook

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Filed under business plan, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, pool club members, press release, save our swim club committee

It’s Your Town – Video Newsletter 2/6/12

As I announce last month, the It’s Your Town newsletter was going to be changing. It’s author Don Watson, had decided that it was time to stop writing about what goes on at Township Committee meetings each month and start showing residents what actually happens during Township Committee meetings.
Mr. Watson has announced he will no longer be presenting the newsletter in its current form recapping Middletown Township Committee meetings as he has done for the past few years. Instead however, it is with great delight that he now will present video recordings of the Middletown Township Committee meetings
Below is the first video which he recorded held on Monday, February 6, 2012.
“… It was an impressive meeting to launch the first recording. The Middletown Swim and Tennis Club community showed up to make their case for keeping the club off the auction block. The mayor thanked the past president of the library board, Randall Gabrielan, for his years of service. This of course was after the mayor asked for Mr. Gabrielan’s resignation the previous week. Also, something that rarely happens, the Committee voted on each new resolution individually.”, Mr. Watson stated in an email announcing the format change to subscribers of his newsletter.

It is hoped that this video starts a new era in Middletown, an era of transparency. This first recording shows what really goes on at Middletown Township Committee meetings. If readers of this blog take the time to watch this video and any videos that come later they will see and hear how our Township Committee deals with its citizens.
… Current and previous Middletown Committees said the people who want meetings recorded have a political agenda. They said recording the meetings would cost too much. They said giving the public video access would allow them to grandstand. You decide if videotaping the meetings is worthwhile..., Finally, I want to extend my personal thank you to the many concerned citizens who made this recording possible with their support. By uniting we triumphed over those who said it couldn’t be done. Many thanks. And as always, thank you all for taking an interest in your local government.”, stated Watson.
Don Watson will be offering the Township Committee a copy of this recording with the hope that they will post it on our Township’s public television access stations.
The video runs over two and a half hours, the first few minutes of the video you will hear a lot of noise. There are no guns being fired. It is a malfunction of the sound system.
As a companion to the video Mr. Watson has put together a PDF document that contains the meeting agenda and the resolutions that were voted on during the meeting. A box around an item is a link, bringing you further into the document to that resolution or ordinance. At the end of the resolution there will be a link bringing you back to the agenda. It is a little easier to follow along when you can see what is being voted on.

While watching the video pay attention to who speaks and who doesn’t speak from the dais, Township Attorney Brian Nelson is sitting next to mayor Tony Fiore. Nelson is an appointed official, not an elected official, yet he speaks as if he is!

It should be pointed out that although Nelson isn’t an elected official, he is a high ranking member of the Middletown GOP who makes a living off the taxpayers of the Township.
Watch closely for the arrogance and distain he shows for those that stand in front of the Committee. He rolls his eyes, laughs and snickers at the very residents that he makes his living off of.

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Filed under Don Watson, Its Your Town, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Randall Gabrielan, video newsletter, workshop meeting, YouTube

Middletown Issues iPads To "The governing body and township managers"

Last week Middletown Township issued a press release extolling the virtues of issuing Apple iPads to members of “The governing body and township managers have been using Apple IPads to review meeting documents prepared by the Office of the Township Clerk since November 2011”.

Since this press release has been posted on the Township website many readers have left comments posted here questioning the need to purchase these iPads and distribute they to township personnel. Middletown is in dire financial shape and is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Services, both essential and non-essential, are being cut back are being eliminated to try and balance the budget. So why spend thousands of dollars purchasing iPads?

The press release states that the iPads are justified because the Township is now saving over $5,000 a year in paper costs because monthly meeting “packets” are now being electronically processed and made available to governing body.

Tony Fiore is quoted as saying, “The switch to IPads for meeting documents is a win-win. We’re saving money and reducing Middletown’s carbon footprint since we’re using less paper and energy. This is a great example of how township staff is thinking outside the box to find innovative ways to make everyday tasks and processes more efficient and effective.”


But is it really? The average bottom line price of an iPad is $499 if purchased through it’s maker Apple. You can buy iPads elsewhere but if you’ve ever shopped for an Apple product you know that prices are not significantly discounted, generally only a few dollars.
If all the packet documents are now available electronically to those that run the township, what is the need to purchase iPads, can’t this documents be sent to the governing members through normal emails? Don’t these people have access to their own PC’s, laptops, netbooks or other type of smart devices to view these documents at home or during township meetings?
Yesterday I emailed a list of questions to the powers that be to see if I could get a few answers.

I would like to know:

  1. How many iPads have been purchased by the township and who specifically has been issued them?
  2. What was the purchase price of these iPads?
  3. Was the purchase price for these iPads discounted in anyway, if so by how much?
  4. Who were these iPads purchased from; Did they come directly from Apple Inc. or an authorized Apple vendor (please name)?
  5. Are these iPads considered township property ?
  6. Can they to be used by individuals for personal use (take and store photos, download music or games, ect…)?
  7. What happens to these iPads if Township Committee members step down from office or not relected or if a town manager leaves the employment of the township?
  8. Did the Township purchase any kind of internet access plan over and above the purchase price of the iPads that would enable idividuals to access the internet if WiFi access is not availible to the users?
  9. Is Town Hall wired for WiFi? If so, does the public have access to the WiFi network at Town Hall if they bring their own laptops, iPads or other type of smart device to a meeting at Town Hall?

I was emailed by back by Assistant Township Administrator Jim VanNest who stated that he would forward my questions to others that could better answer them for me and that I should have a response within a reasonable amount of time.

I assume that means a few day, which is fine, I can wait. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if on some of the questions I asked, I am stonewalled and told that I would need to fill out an OPRA request before receiving answers.
I hope that is not the case, as a citizen of Middletown, I think I and others have a right to know about this. I think the questions are straight forward and residents shouldn’t having to jump through hopes to get this information.
Stay tuned…

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Filed under Apple Inc., iPad, Middletown Township, Middletown Township Committee, OPRA requests, press release

Gabrielan’s Resignation Letter

It’s been a couple of days know since Middletown Public Library Board of Trustees President Randall Gabrielan sent his resignation letter to the Township Committee. Both Middletown Patch and the Asbury Park Press have written articles about it appearing online and in print, but neither have made available the actual letter for their readers.

So for the readers of this blog and for all those interested in such things, I have a MiddletownMike exclusive. You can read Randall Gabrielan’s resignation letter ….. Here
The letter is interesting, the tone of the letter is somewhat defiant. Gabrielan now recognizes that there was a conflict of interest in signing the library purchase orders for his own books that the library was adding to it’s collection.
He mentions his dismay over the January 18th proceedings that took place at that night’s library board meeting, where the newly expanded, Township Committee friendly, board of trustees attempted to oust him as president and replace him with one of their own who had no experience whatsoever in the issues that effect library matters. He stated that instead of trying to struggle with the new realities of the currently make up of the library board that he decided to step down.
He thanked several in the letter for their past and present positive contributions to the Middletown Library including the 2002 Township Committee that voted to assume the capital expense of the “…total reconstruction and major expansion of the library…”

Gabrielan concluded his letter by taking a polite swipe at the newcomer trustees by wishing that they will become quick learners in the many issues that have threatened all libraries throughout the state and vowed to continue to follow the progress of the Middletown Library.
It’s unfortunate that Gabrielan felt compelled to resign his position on the Middletown Library Board, his presence and experience will be missed by all.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Board of Trustees, Middletown Library, Middletown Patch, Middletown Township Committee, resignation, resignation request

Attention All Swim Club Members

Press Release:

This is an urgent call to all members of the
Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Residents and Taxpayers.

On the agenda for the Township Committee Workshop Meeting is:
Item l: Swim Club Utility Dissolution/Property Sale

We are requesting all Middletown Swim Club members attend the Township Committee Workshop Meeting to be held on Monday, February 6, 2012 at Town Hall at 8:00 with their children, friends, posters and/or signs. Car pooling is an option.

With the pool club operating with business as usual in 2012 – our Township Committee says there may be an $81,000 shortfall that taxpayers will have to make up for.

Take note: This would be the first time since the club was purchased in 1997 that the town would have to supplement any loss to the club.

Here’s how we see it:

If the pool club does not operate at all this year, a $225,000 bond payment still must be paid by Middletown taxpayers.

Solution: The SOS Committee is working on a solid business plan to have our MSTC operate at NO COST to taxpayers. To accomplish this, it HAS TO OPEN THIS SUMMER. Members and Non-members, it is your duty to show your support this Monday night! If it opens all 67,000 of us win!

Our swim club offers an affordable summer comfort for seniors, families, teens and tots and has done so since the 1960s!

What is at stake?

· Summer camps where children can play games, create crafts and swim.

· Availability of swim and tennis lessons for members.

· Organized activities: dive and splash contests, water polo, sharks and minnows, basketball games, Frisbee baseball, candy hunts, bowling trips and water aerobics to name a few.

· Our championship swim team who have brought opportunity to young athletes and pride to our town. Senior citizens enjoying a dip during adult swim or a game of cards with their friends.

· Special events: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Senior Day and Family Fun Nights with music and fun activities for the whole family.

Middletown Swim and Tennis Club is a safe, fun-filled haven for families to connect, relax and make friends. It has produced an Olympic medalist and elite Navy Seal. It is an asset to our community and important center of summer activities for families in Middletown Township.

Please plan to attend to support our town summer center for fun!

Your presence at Monday’s meeting is critical!!

Save Our Swim Club Committee
For more information see our Facebook Page

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Filed under agendas, Facebook, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, property sale, save our swim club committee, workshop meeting

Letter: Save Our Swim Club

Dear Middletown Mike,

I am writing to you to regarding the Middletown Swim Club. As we all know the township has stated that they do not want to operate the swim club this year. We ( club members) went to the town meeting on Jan 17th to let the township know we were are not happy with their decision.

During the meeting many numbers were thrown about regarding ADA regulations that need to be put into place and also capital improvements that needed to be made. These numbers ranged up to a million dollars with no specifics to clarify to the members . We have done some investigating with the town and discovered a few things that we think people should know.
The swim club has never been a burden to taxpayers . The swim club is set up as a utility and as such must be self sustaining. Only membership money has been used to run the club.

It has been rumored that they may only open 1 pool this year. The cost to open one pool and 4 pools is the same. Also – if the pumps are not run in the other pools they will become damaged and that will cost money to repair.

Most importantly:

The taxpayers of Middletown will have to take on the burden of the bonds that are owed on the swim club. This amount is $225,000.00 if the club is not opened this year. The membership dues are what cover this cost. These bonds will continue for the next 10 years for a total cost to the taxpayer of $1,300,000.

A member committee has been established and will be presenting its plan to the Township for the continued operation of the swim club very soon.

We who belong love our club. We would like all to join and see what we see. No one should have to go to another town and use their pool when we have a perfectly good one in our own town. Support Middletown, keep the money here. Please join the fight to save the pool club.

Regards,

Save Our Swim Club Committee

Kerri Brennan
Middletown

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Filed under bond debt, letter to the editor, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, taxpayers

Open Letter to Township Committee – 13 Oct 2006: Middletown Township Committee Must Address Appearance of Conflict of Interest Issue

While campaigning for Township Committee back in 2006, then Democratic Candidate Patrick Short sent a letter to Mayor Tom Hall and the rest of the Middletown Township Committee expressing his concerns over the inappropriate public contract that was handed to Sodon Electric Inc. and it’s owner Republican candidate for Township Committee Tim Sodon.
In his letter that you can read below, Short pointed out that Sodon had received over $92,000 for services performed from Dec.2005 thru Sept, 2006 while doing electrical work for the Township. A lot of the electrical work at the time that he did was for maintaining Park and Recreation facilities and other Municipal buildings. At the time of this letter, Sodon was also a member of the Recreation Advisory Board and could direct work to his company when needed.

Today Tim Sodon is the electrical contractor in town by resolution and gets all the work. As a sitting member of the Middletown Planning Board, applicants before the Board have his ear and could inappropriately direct electrical work his way, if they thought that it would improve their chances of having a project approved, as one of the commenter to a previous post pointed out.

The bottom line is, if you are an elected or appointed official in any capacity whatsoever, you should not be contracting service and making a living off the people that you are suppose to be representing. It is inappropriate, a clear conflict of interest and unethical.
If Tony Fiore and his ilk wish to force out Library Board President Randall Gabrielan over some book sale than they should also be ready to ask Tim Sodon to step down from the Planning Board due to his public, no-bid contract for electrical services that he currently holds here in Middletown.
Open Letter to Middletown Township Committee

To: Mayor, Middletown Township
From: Patrick Short

13 October 2006

Subject: Middletown Township Committee Must Address Appearance of Conflict of Interest Issue

I was surprised to find and disappointed to learn that the “Good ‘O Boy” and even Pay for Play may still be active and taking place in Middletown. Despite steps taken to remove this type of conduct in Monmouth County and in Middletown, I do not understand why the Township Committee would permit the appearance of this unacceptable practice to take place.

The relationship between the Parks and Recreation Department and Sodon Electric Inc. may be an example of this impropriety. In the past 10 months, the town has paid Sodon Electric Inc. a total of $92,072.26 for services’ performed from December 2005 through September 2006. This has occurred while the principal partner of Sodon Electric Inc., Mr. Timothy Sodon, is the Republican Party Candidate seeking a seat on the Township Committee; the same committee that approves payment to Sodon Electric Inc. as a contractor in our town. Mr. Sodon is also the chairman of the Recreation Advisory Board; a board that influences projects performed for the Parks and Recreation Department. Any electrical maintenance service that is performed, it is done by Sodon Electric Inc. Most troubling is the fact that payment to Sodon Electric Inc for services performed has more than tripled since Mr. Sodon became the Republican Party candidate and a member and chairman of the Recreation Advisory Board.

Mr. Sodon will have to decide whether he wants to remain a contractor who provides a service to the town or whether he wants to be Committee member, if elected, who approves contractors and the work that they perform within the town. Doing both promotes the appearance of a conflict.

However, it is the responsibility of the Township Committee to ensure that conflict of interest or the appearance thereof does not take place. And if it does, action should immediately be taken to remedy the situation. Our town ought to be viewed as a town that treats all contractors/vendors fairly, impartially, and in the best interest of the tax payer. Our town ought not to be viewed as a town that selects a contractor/vendor off a “Good O Boy” list or because it is an insider to the Republican Party.

I would hope that the Township Committee would view this situation from the eyes of the other twenty-seven (27) electric companies in our town that may want to do business in Middletown. These electrical companies must have confidence that they will not be excluded from doing work in Middletown if they do not subscribe to political patronage. Rather, they subscribe to a high ethical standard and provide quality of service at a cost that is in the best interest of the Middletown taxpayer.

To demonstrate that the Township Committee embraces these principles, I recommend the Township Committee remedy this situation by taking the following steps:

  1. Establish a policy to prohibit any elected and/or appointed official from performing contractual work in the township and any contractor/vendor from being an elected and/or appointed official.
  2. Replace Mr. Sodon as a member/chairperson of the Recreation Advisory Board.
  3. Place an immediate “Stop Work” on all work currently being performed by Sodon Electric Inc.
  4. Re-Issue a Request for Proposal Competitive Bid for electrical maintenance services performed in the Township of Middletown.

Respectfully,

Patrick Short

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Filed under conflict of interest, Middletown Planning Board, Middletown Township Committee, open letter, Patrick Short, Recreation Advisory Board, Sodon Electric, Tim Sodon, unethical behavior

"Political Retaliation" In Play Against Middletown Library Board President

Middletown’s acting Mayor Tony Fiore has asked the President of the Middletown Library Board to resign his position as Board President according to an article posted on Middletown-Patch this morning.

According to Middletown-Patch, a letter was sent to Library Board President Randal Gabrielan last Wednesday requesting his resignation for questionable inappropriate and unethical behavior pertaining to books purchased by the Middletown Library that were penned by Gabrielan.

Randal Gabrielan is the Monmouth County historian and writes books about the history of Monmouth County and its towns. The books are available at many book sellers throughout NJ.

Where the supposed ethical violations come into play in this case is that as Library Board President, Randal Gabrielan signs all the purchase vouchers for the library, including the vouchers that pertain to the books that he has written.

To Fiore and Co., this is a major issue that requires Gabrielan to step down from his position, even though this has been going on for years with the knowledge and approval of the Township and the fact that the library would have purchased the books for its collection anyway.
Randal Gabrielan states in the article that this is “political retribution” for his vocal stance opposing the Township’s money grab of nearly $500,000 last year and for the failure of one of the Township Committee’s hand picked, newly appointed Library Board of Trustees members not being able to dethrone him as Board President at the Library’s January 18th Board meeting, which was the first board meeting after the Middletown Township Committee expanded the membership of the board from 7 members to 9 members to gain greater control over the library’s finances.
“This request for resignation is an act of political retaliation prompted by my opposition in 2011 to the Township Committee’s demand that the library turn over surplus funds (which did not come from municipal appropriations) to the township and the failure of the mayor’s new expanded library board of trustees to elect one of their number, none of whom has any library board experience, to the presidency of the board at the January 18th library board meeting,” According to Gabrielan’s statement posted on Middletown-Patch.
I think that before looking at Mr. Gabrielan, Tony Fiore should be looking closer to home for ethical lapses and request a certain Planning Board member to step down…..

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Filed under Board of Trustees, ethical violations, Middletown Library, Middletown Patch, Middletown Township Committee, Randall Gabrielan, resignation request, Tony Fiore

It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 4, Issue 2-1/17/12

Here is another edition of the It’s Your Town newsletter, it covers the January 17th, 2012 Middletown Township Committee meeting. As readers of the blog know from listening to audio clips posted last week, this meeting was very eventful.

A a late notice stating that the Township will not open the Swim & Tennis Club this year was posted to the Township’s website on Friday 13th, heading into the long Martin Luther King 3-day holiday weekend and apparently, from the sentiment of the members present at the meeting, they weren’t informed previously of the dire financial situation of the Swim Club, over two dozen people voiced their concerns to the Township Committee.

There were a few Swim Club members who questioned the expenses incurred by the Township on behalf of the Middletown Arts Center (MAC) in relation to those incurred to operate the Swim Club. They were told by Mayor Fiore and Township Attorney Brian Nelson, that the MAC was on the way towards profitability and that the utility expenses were down dramatically to only $30 to $40K per year! Attached to the newsletter are the actual figures for the past five years so you can determine for yourself what is accurate.

Regardless, when the Club closes, all Middletown residents will be responsible for repaying the original bond used to purchase the Club instead of the member fees stated in the Pool Club ordinance.

Read this edition of the newsletter ….Here


And if you would like to listen to the companion audio clips from the meeting, I have them below

Committee comments #1
http://www.archive.org/embed/SwimClubMembersAddressTownshipCommittee
Committee comments #2
http://www.archive.org/embed/SwimClubMembersAddressTownshipCommittee-2
What about the kids?
http://www.archive.org/embed/SwimClubMembersAddressTownshipCommittee4WhatAboutTheKids
Tom Wilkens comments
http://www.archive.org/embed/SwimClubMembersAddressTownshipCommittee5TomWilkensComments

As always, if you wish to subscribe to the newsletter and receive in your inbox send a request to itsourtown@yahoo.com

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Filed under Audio clips, Brian Nelson, Its Your Town, Martin Luther King Jr., Middletown Arts Center, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Swim Club, Tony Fiore

More Audio From Tuesday Night’s Township Committee Meeting; Former Committeeman Tom Wilkens Comments On Swim Club Closing

In this audio clip from last Tuesday night’s Middletown Township Committee meeting, hometown hero, former Olympian and Township Committee member, Tom Wilkens addressed the Township Committee about the sudden news that the Swim and Tennis Club would not be operational for this coming summer season, during the public comments portion of the Township Committee meeting that took place on January 19th.

He expressed his understanding of the issue as a former member of the Township Committee, former commissioner of the Swim Club Utility and current member of the Middletown Swim and Tennis Club and wondered if all possible options for keeping the swim club open had been considered.

http://www.archive.org/embed/SwimClubMembersAddressTownshipCommittee5TomWilkensComments

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Filed under Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, Olympics, public comments, Tom Wilkens