News and notes from the August regular and September workshop council meetings of the governing body.
Summer 2015 Scores a 10
Remarking on the ten perfect rain-free summer weekends reflecting the equally unblemished recreation and activity through town during the same, multiple governing body members weighed in to cheer the season and its volunteers.
"It has been a busy summer," said Councilwoman Joella Nicastro. "I know I shouldn't be saying this out loud, knock on wood, but there were no jellyfish this summer - I don't know what's helping it, nobody seems to have the answer, but all I can tell you is there are lots and lots of happy kids."
"Barely any complaints of what's going down down [at the beach]," concurred John Serpica, councilman and recreation committee chair, noting both the lack of jellyfish and general beach events and day-to-day operations and adding that profit by mid-summer badge sales was over $3,700. "We're having a very good year - people are coming out and supporting it, so it's all good."
Many thanked him and the organizations and volunteers that made Ocean Gate Day a success, on August 8th.
"It was totally a team effort, beginning with Paulette [Konopka, the borough's chief financial officer and longtime resident], who laid the groundwork and pointed me in the right direction," replied Mr. Serpica. "It's very easy when you've got great people working around you - these things happen very easily, and it was a good success so let's keep it going."
Mayor Paul Kennedy estimated that there appeared to be even more people on Ocean Gate Day attending the Ocean Gate Vol. First Aid Squad's 3rd Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta than were there for the July 4th parade and beach games, which were also very well-attended.
"A lot of people had a really great time," agreed Councilman Dave Kendrick. "If you haven't been to one, I suggest you come out next year, it's a lot of fun."
Councilman Alex Martinez gave special praise to the borough public works employees for their work on Ocean Gate Day picking up trash and emptying overflowing bins.
Recreation Commission Considered & Upcoming Events
|Ocean Gate Trunk or Treat 2014.
The borough recreation committee may soon be returned to commission status, allowing it to have more volunteer managing members, if work by its current chairman and those interested feel it would be an improvement.
"Talking to a lot of people in town, and I briefly had a discussion with the mayor, we're thinking of possibly bringing back a recreation commission," reported Mr. Serpica. "It was done in the past, it was very successful and recreation is a big project and has a lot going on, more than I can handle for sure, so we're thinking about bringing some citizens in - a representative from the school, from the municipal alliance, the council and some citizens."
"We want to come up with some kind of a plan, some ideas, suggestions, and get some volunteerism going to make improvements, raise money," he continued, noting that plans would be discussed sometime after the start of the new school year.
Turning then to the remainder of the year and the off-season, the councilman stated the next event would be the second annual Trunk or Treat for Halloween, likely on October 30th, as the Toms River Fire Company announced the permanent return of their parade to October 31st, thereby returning the decades-old tradition of trick-or-treating the night before by that and surrounding municipalities.
He added that later still, sometime following Christmas break, he would seek to again begin holding open gym nights at Ocean Gate School for children to engage in active athletic and social activity during the cold winter.
Where Angels Play Foundation Honored
|Moments after the ribbon was cut on the new playground in early August.
Bookending the well-attended and successful fundraiser and playground construction and dedication project of Jay Marles Memorial Park on East Atlantic and Wildwood avenues in early August, officials from the Where Angels Play Foundation - the organization behind its volunteer effort to build it - were honored at the August council meeting.
Remarking on the "hundred-plus" volunteers involved, Mayor Kennedy said he wanted to again thank the foundation and the former Ocean Gate resident who was integral in bringing it together, John Bourke.
He then presented a plaque that read, "In grateful appreciation for your dedication, time and effort, and construction of Jay Marles Memorial Park, our deepest gratitude from the mayor and borough council of the borough of Ocean Gate."
George Brown, a resident of Bayville and member of the foundation, accepted the plaque in place of the organization's president, Bill Lavin, who was unable to attend due to work on another playground in Boston.
"This goes back to September 11th [2001, when] some kids down in Mississippi sent letters to the firehouse where a lot of us - we were pretty much all police officers and firefighters - were, and they told us what they thought of us and what they appreciated," he recalled. "Fast forward to Hurricane Katrina, those kids, their homes were wiped out, the schools were wiped out, so Bill Lavin reached out to Mississippi and asked, 'What do the kids want from us?'"
"They said all they want is a place to play and be kids," Mr. Brown continued, stating that later, following Hurricane Sandy, "those same kids started raising money and gathered toys to send here for Christmas, and then the Sandy Hook [Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012] occurred, and the question was, 'What kind of world is this? What do we do?' And Bill said, 'Do you know what we do? We build playgrounds for the kids to be kids.'"
"In 22 months we raised over $2.3 million and built 26 playgrounds for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, each one reflecting the person we built the playground for," he said. "Their favorite color, piece of art, something they said or did."
The effort then continued in communities such as Ocean Gate, honoring fallen Ptl. Jason "Jay" Marles, who lost his life at the hands of an intoxicated driver on the Garden State Parkway while returning home following a holiday night patrol on Thanksgiving Eve, 2010.
Next, Pat and Joe Engrassia, Ptl. Marles's mother and step-father, thanked the borough "from the bottom of our hearts" for not letting their son become just "another police officer."
Mr. Bourke recalled growing up in the borough and wanting to be involved in helping the project come to fruition to honor the fallen patrolman, noting that monies raised through their efforts in town had thus far amounted to over $10,000 for future playgrounds.
And in other news of the governing body:
Councilman Martinez was
congratulated on the birth of his daughter, Scarlett Rose, with his wife, Alexandra, in early September... the Ocean Gate Social Club was working towards
getting a senior exercise coach involved in their activities... an East Cape May Avenue resident approached the governing body
seeking an adjustment on her water bill from the years the line was not in use following Hurricane Sandy but was not formally cut and capped, and Mr. Martinez, who is chair of the public works committee, said he was working on it in that group... longtime former borough resident Bill Bourke, who is a well-known and popular audio recording professor with Ocean County Vocational-Technical School at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station campus, would
bring student musical groups for a special beachfront event on October 10th in conjunction with an autumn borough bonfire... a
new police contract was in the works, said Councilman Brian DiStefano, who expected to "have this probably put to bed very quickly [with] probably a contract in place by November" or sooner...
interference is causing issues with police radios during the night, and Police Chief Reece Fisher reminded council of the upcoming mandated frequency change among all emergency service organizations to move them away from the interference from digital television signals, which would cost the borough capital funds... Councilman Mark Haug reported the spring beach sweep included collecting 462 cigarette butts, and added that
the fall sweep, which needed volunteers, would be held October 24th from 9 am to 12:30 pm. He added that if turnout was high, he would separate a faction to help clean up the duck pond along Ocean Gate Drive on the west side of town... Ms. Nicastro stated that with summer over, work ongoing in preparation for next year included
improved parking signage, clarification of crabbing rules, addressing garbage at the beachfront - specifically garbage cans there, which continue to have problems of nearby renters and homeowners dumping household trash in them during the season, causing massive overflows... Mr. Kendrick, who is also chair of the public safety committee, reported that the
Office of Emergency Management was seeking a sort of instant alert system to call its volunteers to action, as the current method of calling down a line was tedious and time-consuming...
flu-shots would be available in Ocean Gate on October 30th from 10 am to noon, according to Mr. Haug, who would announce more details at an upcoming meeting... the fire company issued a
concern over the potential inability to reach the roofs of homes that had been raised in the years following Hurricane Sandy, which could lead to a new ladder truck purchase in the near future... Angelsea Avenue resident Rick LeFevre approached the mayor and council with a
request that they consider a beach-wide smoking ban, which Mayor Kennedy instructed Mr. Haug to work on in his health, welfare and environment committee, to report back upon at a later meeting... Mr. Martinez asked
any residents who notice non-functioning streetlights to report them to borough hall so he may keep JCP&L updated on work needed through the fall and winter months... Mayor Kennedy reported that a
single bidder submitted a proposal to supply the borough with new water meters in the amount of $268,210 with 90 percent of the cost due to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)... an East Lakewood Avenue resident and his four dogs were
granted permission to temporarily reside in his parked camper on his property next to his home for a period not exceeding six months while he makes necessary repairs following lingering damage by Hurricane Sandy. The resident noted the difficulty he found in trying to find a rentable unit that would allow his pets...