Villainous Company opens this week

Villainous Company: A Caper for Three Women by Victor L. Cahn opens this week at New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch.

(Photo courtesy: SuzAnne Barabas). Shown are Corey Tazmania and Melissa Macleod Herion, with Pheonix Vaughn in the background.

When Claire returns home from an afternoon of shopping, she discovers one of her packages is missing. Just as she is calling the store, an employee stops by to return the item, then manages to invite herself inside. Before long, larceny and trickery abound as the two women, soon joined by a third, compete in a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse. The cast includes Melissa Macleod Herion, Corey Tazmania and Pheonix Vaughn and is directed by SuzAnne Barabas. Preview performances begin Thursday, May 5 with opening night Saturday, May 7 at New Jersey Repertory Company (179 Broadway, Long Branch), and will run through Sunday, June 5, 2016. Tickets may be purchased by calling 732-229-3166 or at www.njrep.org.

Mall Plan Gets Mauled

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — The April 27 meeting of the Eatontown Borough Council was like watching kids play a rough and tumble game of basketball in the schoolyard… until the owner of the ball announced they were done playing and were going home.

In what can only be described as a series of stunning developments, Kushner Co., the owners of Monmouth Mall, pulled the plug altogether on any redevelopment of the site. Back in February, Kushner had proposed a $500 million makeover of the property into what they called a “24/7 live, work and play” environment called Monmouth Town Center.

Catering to millennials, the company presented a concept of four- and five-story high-end apartment buildings with one- and two-bedroom units, an eight-story hotel, and among other things, a place for rooftop golf. There was an affordable housing component that could have helped the borough meet its COAH (affordable housing) obligations.

Two weeks after that presentation the council introduced an ordinance to change the zoning of the mall area, permitting, among other things, residential use. A “yes” vote by the council on April 27 would have allowed Kushner to proceed to the Planning Board with a site plan.

Instead, the project slammed to a screeching halt.

The council meeting was held at the Memorial School in anticipation of a large crowd. Several top officials from Kushner attended. There did not seem to be anything unusual at the start except for the fact that it was held at a different location.

Mayor Dennis Connelly began the meeting by reading a prepared statement, which said in part:

“Every day we read about large stores closing and companies going bankrupt … Malls as we know them are dying. The biggest draw at our mall is the movie theater over any retail store. We need our mall to survive, this town relies on it… The plan before us will do this,” Connelly said.

“The Town Center mixed use will create jobs, will not burden our schools. This plan will make a positive tax ratable for many years. Our roads can handle it and it doesn’t cut down one tree, it actually adds green space,” he continued.

The mayor had been saying as much for several months. But then, in a surprise reversal — and bowing to a largely negative reaction from residents who live near the Mall — Connelly announced that he felt the project should be changed further. He urged the council to vote no on the ordinance.

“I can honestly say to the residents tonight: I hear you,” he said. “I want our professionals to scale the project down, not change it totally, but let’s increase the buffers to our single-family homes, decrease the height of the mixed use buildings, eliminate or scale down the hotel, eliminate the roof golf, improve the language to eliminate schools and put controls on the games of amusement. After doing this, I hope more of you will accept this plan,” he concluded.

Those remarks alone would have been a big story. But the drama wasn’t over yet.

Members of the public were then given their say. Only one person spoke in favor of the project – a businessman with interests in Red Bank. His comparison of business in Red Bank versus Eatontown was shouted down with hoots and catcalls. Those who spoke against adopting the ordinance — some carrying signs that said “Vote No On Mall Ordinance” — were met with cheers and applause.

Perhaps intimidated by both Connelly’s remarks and the public’s displeasure, Kushner Co. apparently reached its own decision on the project right then and there. Jennifer Bernell, the Director for Development for Kushner, rose to speak.

“I just spoke with the Kushner family and we had felt over the past nine months that we were making great headway in terms of working with the municipality in improving the mall and devoting incredible resources. Given the response tonight, we realize that these changes are not welcome and we are planning to leave the mall as is.”

With that, the Kushner reps walked out a side door at the school, with applause and cries of “See ya!” “good riddance!” and “goodbye!” ringing in their ears.

Connelly and the council seemed stunned at the turn of events. Voting on the ordinance suddenly became a moot point. Nonetheless, the Council voted 6-0 against its adoption.

And as of press time, no one seems to know what will happen next.

 

Adopt A Pets for the week of May 5-May 11

Here are some of the cats, dogs, and birds in our area looking for forever homes:

Moms golf for free on Mother’s Day

Ocean Township — Colonial Terrace Golf Course, 1003 Wickapecko Drive, celebrates Mother’s Day, Sunday May 8, with a free round of golf for moms accompanied by a paying son or daughter (age 7 or older).

Ocean Township’s beautiful municipal regulation 9-hole golf course offers more than 2,600 yards of golf in a spectacular setting conveniently located near Route 35.
Hours are 7 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week, weather permitting.

Colonial Terrace offers reasonable fees, just $19 on weekdays for Ocean Township residents and $22 on weekends. Non-residents pay $24 weekdays and $27 on weekends, with discounts for junior and senior golfers, both residents and non-residents.

Enjoy a late afternoon round and save with discounted Twilight fees after 3:00 p.m. Frequent golfers save more with a Colonial Terrace Loyalty Card, playing the 10th round free after purchasing nine rounds. Pull carts, clubs and golf cars are available for rental.

PGA Professional Dale Shankland offers private and group lessons for golfers of all ages and abilities.

In addition to the Mother’s Day special, there are special events and discounts throughout the season, including free 10-minute lessons in May, free golf for Dads on Father’s Day (June 19), a junior tour, family golf clinics and an adult/child tournament.

For more information and to reserve a tee time or lesson, visit ColonialTerraceGolf.org or call 732-775-3636.

Adopt A Pets for the week of April 28-May 4

Here are some of the cats, dogs, and birds in our area looking for forever homes:

Monmouth Mall will remain unchanged as Kushner walks away

Eatontown – It was standing room only at Memorial School last night as hundreds of people were on hand to voice objection to the proposed $500 million dollar renovation of Monmouth Mall.

Nine months ago the Kushner family of Long Branch, owners of the mall, unveiled a plan that would totally transform the mall into a 24/7 live, shop and play destination. The plans included housing, a hotel and completely redesigned shopping experience.

At the meeting on April 27, at the Memorial School, it started off with disagreements and finger pointing from the governing body and residents on transparency of this project.

Jennifer Bernell, director of development for the Kushner Companies, was the person everyone in the room was waiting to hear speak. “I just spoke with the Kushner family and we had felt over the past nine months that we were making great headway in terms of working with the municipality in improving (Monmouth Mall) and devoting incredible resources. Given the response tonight, we realize that these changes are not welcome and we are planning to leave the mall as is. So thank you very much,” said Bernell.

When Bernell finished her statement she and the other Kushner representatives then left the meeting. Those opposed to the project applauded while a few of the governing body members looked totally surprised and disgusted.

Dennis Connelly, mayor of Eatontown, said that the decision by the Kushner family to walk away was based on misinformation spread by a group of residents who did not support the project.

“It’s a sad day,” Connelly was quoted as saying after the meeting. He and a few other council members attempted to set the record starting and posted information on the project on the borough’s website. “This property is not a small part of our town, it’s the biggest business, our largest ratable. It was a project that should have been moved forward. This was a bad message for our town to send.”
Kushner, which also owns Pier Village in Long Branch, bought out its partner in Monmouth Mall for $38 million in 2015. They had hoped to create the mall into a mix use of open space, enclosed retail shopping, restaurants, entertainment, and apartments and a hotel.

Adopt A Pets for the week of APril 21-27

Here are some of the cats, dogs, and birds being taken care of by the Monmouth County SPCA, Associated Humane Society and For the Love of Birds Rescue who could use forever homes.

Shore hosts first Make-A-Wish Upon A Star Benefit

By Matt Engel
West Long Branch — Nearly a full house gathered inside the Shore Regional auditorium on Friday night to watch all kinds of performances, from one-man dances to local bands, at the Make A Wish Upon A Star benefit.
The purpose of the three-hour event was to raise money for the children of Make a Wish New Jersey, a nonprofit organization that says its goal is to “grant the wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition in the Garden State.”
“We got asked to do this while filming a music video,” said Jimmy Franklin, the lead guitar player of Big Tom and the Guns, a band made up of Shore graduates. “This event has been going great so far.”
Other performers at the event included the cast of Shore Players Miss Mare’s All About Dance Team, and Emotion in Motion Dance Center. There were 26 individual acts in total, which surprised planners for the event, who said that the show started out with only three guaranteed acts.
“For very short notice, this went very well,” said student planner Corey Karpe, a junior.
Admission was $6 for adults and $4 for senior citizens/children.
Other major contributors included Carol Burkley, Councilwoman Susan Juliano, Melanie Luebs, Julianna Hansen-Fliedner, Carlisle Brush Stoll, Emily Ronan, and Liz Dunn.

Become a bird monitor volunteerwith the Monmouth County Park System

Long Branch — Help the Monmouth County Park System protect the nests of endangered shorebirds at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch! Volunteers (age 18 and up) are needed to monitor known nesting sites of least terns, piping plovers and oystercatchers.

Todd Pover of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey will teach a Beach Nesting Bird Monitor Training Workshop from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, May 1 at the Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park Activity Center, Ocean Avenue, Long Branch.

Volunteers are needed through July to observe the activity of beach nesting birds and interact with park visitors to discourage actions which may have a negative impact on the birds and their chicks.  Bird Monitors volunteer as their schedules permit, but are especially needed during peak summer usage and special events such as Fourth of July. For more information or to register, please contact the Park System volunteer office at 732-842-4000, ext. 4283, or volunteer@monmouthcountyparks.com.

For more information about the Monmouth County Park System, please visit www.monmouthcountyparks.com or call 732-842-4000. For persons with hearing impairment, the TTY/TDD number is 711. The Monmouth County Park System, created in 1960 by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, is Monmouth County’s Open Space, Parks, and Recreation agency.

Volunteer Fire Police fundraise at IAMA

The I.A.M.A.
ITALIAN AMERICAN MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION is sponsoring the City of Long Branch VOLUNTEER FIRE POLICE Fundraiser
Cortez Cigars from Eatontown will be handing out cigars

Saturday, April 23
Cash Bar • Prime Rib • Music
Tickets $25, Doors Open @ 5PM
195 West End Ave., Long Branch, NJ

Contacts
Joe Piscitelli:      732-693-1570
Bob Kenny:      732-618-3809
Tom Spiezio:     732-233-2011