Q: We regularly have water main breaks in Strathmore. What is the township's plan for dealing with the obviously aging system to prevent this in the future?
Fred: Beside having regular conversations with New Jersey American Water (NJAW), as of yesterday, Mr. Kevin Watsey of NJAW has formally written us to tell us that they have a plan for Aberdeen over the next eighteen months. He wrote: “We plan on spending more than 1.5 million to replace and rehabilitate water mains in town.” He claims there will be 16 projects in total and recommends a meetings. We’re meeting with him next Tuesday to get more specific details.
Holly: A good number of water mains and pipes are owned by American Water and are finally on the capital improvement plan. Specifically, they own the ones in the Strathmore area, but not at the high school or some of the older areas like Cliffwood Beach.
Q: What can we do to attract businesses to Route 34 that are not banks? There are that it seems like a waste. We need things for families to enjoy and teenagers to participate in.
Fred: The town welcomes and talks to any new businesses that are interested in opening in Aberdeen. Banks are very good neighbors in the sense that they do not generate a lot of garbage, traffic, or noise, but we do welcome any business that comes into town.
The other issue in this economy is not as many businesses are opening. Would we prefer more diversity? Yes, but we can’t dictate what people do with their commercial property. Our Planning and Zoning Boards can only base their approval or denial on things like is there enough parking or the impact on traffic, etc. The impact on us from the bank is nil. Though we’d love more diversity, the fact is that banks are a terrific business and great neighbors for the community. When the banks come into the community, normally the managers approach the town and the first thing they want to do is get involved with the community groups.
We’re also happy to prematurely announce that a business has just bought Lumber 64 on Route 35. The other newest business to come to come is Dyke’s Lumber on Route 34. We’re also getting a Subway on Route 35 in the A&P shopping center and a national auto repair shop is coming to Route 34 near the Columbia Bank.
We finally formalized the . Right in their statute it says that they are to help new businesses come in to town. As a township, more than a year ago we started the planning and formation of that, it was finalized and they meet now once a month and they bring up a wide variety of topics form the business community back to the council.
Q: I would like to know what can be done about the night club (which is operating in place of Sports Zone.) The homes in the W section of Aberdeen are backed up to this club so every weekend we have listen to loud dance club music until around 2 a.m. One resident has already put their home up for sale because of the noise that has been going on over the past few years as the bar/club operated under other names. We are told all we can do is call the police department. I am sure there are better things for our local police deparment to be doing then checking on this club over and over again. What can we do to improve this?
Fred: The township requested that the Monmouth County Health Department perform noise level readings and their official noise level readings were not outside the allowable levels, yet we understand that the noise still seems to be a problem for our neighbors on Warren Drive.
Prime 34 is working under a management agreement under Sports Zone, so the liquor license is still in the hands of Sports Zone. There’s been a management agreement between Sports Zone and Prime 34 and it’s our understanding that at the first council meeting in September the transfer of the liquor license will take place, although officially we have heard of no closing yet between the parties of Sports Zone and Prime 34.
Even though we’ve had the county out here to do noise levels, this Thursday, one of the new owners has agreed to come in and meet Holly and myself to discuss plans to try and correct the noise levels coming out of the building.
The owner tried to put a sound proof foam on the roof of the second floor and that has not seemed to rectify the situation as yet. In fairness, he has stated to Holly many times that he intends to make everyone happy. The question is can he do it, and when?
Holly: We visited the property to listen at the rear of the parking lot, and the noise is acceptable, we could barely hear it at all.
Fred: Monmouth County took the noise levels from their property line, too. And Holly and I visited the property only to come to the same conclusion, that the noise level at their property line is less than the actual noises that are by the homes Warren Drive. It sounds like the dance floor is in their back yard.
Holly: It’s like the noise rises over the fence and carries.
Fred: Right now, we recommend that these residents continue to contact the council or call the police department while we try to reach a satisfactory agreement. We are extremely sympathetic to these homeowners. Deputy Mayor Montone and Councilman Lauro also made visits.
Q: When will cardboard recycling be enforced by Aberdeen Township?
Fred: Cardboard recycling is being enforced by the township. We have told the carting company (Future Sanitation) to not pick up cardboard with garbage. If it’s visible they’re either pulling it out and leaving it or not picking it up. They’re also putting an orange sticker on it.
We do now also have , which means all recycling can go out together. Right now, people should note when they have their recycling date so they can put everything out at once.
Holly: Single stream is supposed to create more compliance. If it’s a pain to separate recycling, people are less likely to do it. We also have our recycling center open six days a week.
Fred: It’s open Monday through Saturday so if anyone should miss a recycling or it’s filling up faster than twice a month, they can visit the center on Lenox Road.
Editor's note: Aberdeen's recycling center is at the Public Works Garage, located on Lenox Road off of Cliffwood Avenue. It is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Q: Is the just purchased by Aberdeen Township the same land that was said not to long ago in the papers to be contaminated and have some kind of drums on it?
Fred: The contamination that they may be hearing about is from fertilizers from when the area was farmland. In fact, we wouldn't have the interested of Monmouth County Parks System, Baykeepers, NJ DEP, Green Acres, and everyone else who provided grant money to purchase this and make it a park if it was contaminated. There is no remediation needed on the land.
My understanding as of last week with Deputy Mayor Montone is that Monmouth Conservation of Land will be purchasing another 25 acres, and along with this, the Baykeeper is negotiating almost 90 acres of land with a former developer, so in total, when this is all said and done, no matter how long it takes, this should be an almost 250 acre park. Both would be deeded to Aberdeen for recreational purposes.
Q: What is the Green Team doing to make Aberdeen a certified sustainable community?
Fred: First we'd like to talk about some of the accomplishments that the Green Team was able to achieve while it was active.
The single stream recycling was a result of the Green Team. We received a grant to have an energy audit in the municipal building, senior center, and public works, all got lighting and heating improvements to make them more green and efficient.
The Green Team started about two years ago but it went dormant. It’s tough to get volunteers. We had a lot of employees on the team too.
Holly: Even though we don’t have the Green Team in place, we still look for ways to go green. We wanted to go paperless for council meetings, and rather than get tablets that are expensive, the police department gave us their Toughbook that were in their patrol cars but have since been replaced. Instead of going out and spending additional money, we’re going to be recycling the Toughbooks so the council can go paperless.
Fred: We’re also really proud of our . It was done at no cost to the tax payer and is done by a power purchase agreement. They will be in place at town hall, Public Works, and several pumping stations.
Q: Several years ago the township began to put in/replace curbs & sidewalks around town. I live on Gulden Street in Cliffwood Beach and was very happy to know that at some point we would actually have curbs. I would say it's been a good 10 years since this initiative was started. To date most of the streets surrounding ours have been worked on, but we are still waiting. My question for the mayor is, when can Gulden Street expect to have curbs/sidewalks put in? Is there a schedule?
Fred: The township instituted a roadway system evaluation which determines what street should be reconstructed to do this. The evaluation system uses a paving condition index, or PCI, and our engineering firm came up with a book that identified what streets should be fixed first. This book is available to the public at town hall if they wish to see what their road’s PCI is.
Holly: Bob Brady (director of public works) also did a drive around after the hurricane. Hurricane Irene put us a little behind too because a lot of streets that didn’t need to be fix then needed to be.
Unfortunately because of budget constraints, we have lowered what we can spend on streets. The current council is continuing the road program to the best of their ability and we are spending about 1.5 million this year. We had to scale it back, and are always looking for funding and grants. We won't abandon it.
We have been successful in getting some grants. The sidewalk on Route 34, that's an example of an example of getting grant money.
We don’t have a sidewalk program. Every road that is repaved will get curbing. The curbs help to keep the road from deteriorating. But a lot of the streets, like in the Cliffwood section, you would have to take a lot of property from residents for sidewalks and we don’t think they’d want that since it’s already a smaller sized lot.
Editor's note: Wondering which roads were selected for the 2012 road program? .
Q: In January 2009, the town council introduced a Pay-to-Play ordinance. Then the council never discussed or approved it. What happened and why won't the town council end the practice of awarding contracts to their largest campaign contributors? The most egregious example is the township engineer, CME, who contributes tens of thousands of dollars to the political campaigns and receives over a million dollars a year from the township. When was the last time the township had competitive bidding for a professional services contract?
Fred: To the best of my knowledge, all candidates of all parties follow the guidelines set forth.
Holly: We have a pay to play ordinance that is the same as the state requires. They [CME] get appointed each year. I appoint the engineer, based on recommendations from the council. They [CME] are mostly paid through escrow funds. Everything goes out to bid as per law. We don’t pick them based on their contributions. If you keep changing firms, there’s no continuity.
Fred: A lot of engineering firms will contribute to both campaigns. Engineering firms donate, businesses donate. I don’t know an engineering firm that doesn’t make donations. I know engineering firms that will contribute to both campaigns.
Editor's note: Ordinance No. 10-2007, "Ordinance Amending the Revised General Ordinances of the Township of Aberdeen to Implement a Public Contracting Reform Ordinance," is available on file at the township municipal building.
Q: Why would Aberdeen appoint William Bocra of Silver Oaks as its lead developer for the transit village after Bocra was convicted of attempted bribery of an IRS official and also cost Matawan hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees?
Fred: We have no dealings with Mr. William Bocra, Senior. To the best of my knowledge, while I’ve been on council, that gentlemen has never been in this building, our council has not had any dealings with that man, and our attorney has never had any meetings with him. I’ll go back and say Joe Criscuolo, our former town manager who isn’t here to speak for himself, probably never met with him.
Do we meet with his son and that corporation? We do. We’re very pleased with the relationship we have with them. They have brought in Chase Partners, and in fact at a meeting with Sen. Kyrillos, he said he couldn’t be more pleased with Chase Partners and the transit village.
Editor’s Note: In 1976, William Bocra Senior was convicted of bribing an agent of the Internal Revenue Service and sentenced to three years of prison. He appealed the decision and alleged that the agent entrapped him, but in 1980 the appellate court upheld the ruling against him.
Q: The town council has authorized substantial residential construction to satisfy COAH requirements. What is the projected impact on the school district?
Holly: We’re not building just to satisfy COAH. The affordable housing would be built anyway. But each time you put a shovel in the ground, you have to make sure you are COAH compliant. It’s not like the town council has authorized construction to satisfy COAH. The construction happens because there is vacant land and people come to us and want to develop.
The impact on the school district is anyone’s guess. There are requirements from COAH, including one bedroom, two bedroom, and three bedroom units. The only thing I can tell you here is the Board of Education is fully aware of these projects.
The other aspect with COAH is that the developer can either build the units or contribute to the fund. With those funds, we have rehabilitated 11 homes. We have to do 31. Development brings in those funds so we can get those things done for COAH.
The planning board is not allowed to take into consideration the question of affordable housing. What the planning board says is, is this the best community fitted for Aberdeen? Is there enough parking, is the height of the building within our requirements?
Fred: Every town has responsibilities to satisfy their COAH needs. At the same time, where there are vacant lands, there will be banks built, entertainment centers built, and communities built. We can’t stop building completely because people own the land. Once a developer indicates to us that they want to develop in Aberdeen, our planner will begin negotiations. I'm very happy to tell you that Aberdeen is 100% COAH satisfied with state of NJ. There are five projects, including County Road, , the future , , and .
It should be noted that the township has looked at the delicate balance between land development and preservation. When it comes to construction and redevelopment and the fact that we have five projects in the works right now, we have also taken steps in the Freneau area to preserve land for a passive recreation park. There were approvals to build almost 1,200 additional units or homes on that land, so that's why I believe this council and current town management is so proud of the fact that we've created a balance between land preservation and construction.