$37 million worth of sand coming to area

By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — Work is about to start on a $37.4 million beach replenishment in Monmouth Beach, Sea Bright and Long Branch.
The federal government is picking up about two thirds of the costs, with the state and municipalities picking up the remainder. Each of the three communities will be paying about $1 million, with grants from Monmouth County covering about half their costs.

Long Branch Mayor John Pallone discusses what beach replenishment will mean to the city at the Brighton Avenue beach entrance, one of the sections that will benefit from it. Behind him are, l-r, a worker involved in the project, Bill Dixon, Director NJDEP, Division of Coastal Engineering, Army Corps of Engineers project manager Jason Shea, and Congressman Frank Pallone.

Congressman Frank Pallone was at the Brighton Avenue beach, the northern end of the Long Branch replenishment project area on Friday, to announce the details. He was joined by Long Branch officials, local Assemblymembers, NJ Department of Environmental officials, and representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the project.


The Army Corps will start moving equipment into place in November. Sand replenishment is expected to start in Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach in December, and in Long Branch this February.

In Sea Bright, sand will be placed from Island View Way north to the Tradewinds. In Monmouth Beach, replenishment is from the Bathing Pavilion near Valentine Street to Cottage Road. And in Long Branch, is goes from the West End Beach to Sycamore Avenue in Elberon.

Congressman Pallone said that the beach replenishment may look expensive, but it’s worthwhile.

“Each time I talk about beach replenishment – it’s been 30 years now – I have to stress it saves money,” he said.

Local towns like the extra sand in part because it makes beaches more attractive. Mayor John Pallone noted that the city had a “record summer in beach revenue” this year. But Congressman Pallone said the Army Corps of Engineers is really looking at the likelihood of major storms and how the sand serves as a buffer for that, and tourism is just a welcome side effect.

“There’s a very tough cost benefit analysis,” he said. A major hurricane or severe nor’easter can “add up to millions or even billions of damage.” If the storm just washes away a buffer of sand, it’s much cheaper in the long run.

This replenishment marks a milestone of sorts; it’s the first project in the area that is not part of the emergency sand brought in after Superstorm Sandy, but instead for the routine maintenance of the shoreline.

Jason Shea, project manager, from the Army Corps of Engineers, said that there would be a total of 1.6 million cubic yards of sand brought in to the area.

“This project will continue to provide the much needed beach erosion control,” he said.

The average period of time between replenishments is six years, but there’s a lot of variation depending on the amount of erosion.

The total cost is $37.4 million. The federal government pays for 65% of the project, with the state paying three-quarters of the remaining cost, and the individual towns picking up the remainder, the exact amount they pay for depending on the amount of sand they’re getting, paying about nine cents for each dollar spent.

In Long Branch, Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright, that’s all roughly $1 million dollars, give or take. But Mayor John Pallone said that Monmouth County was helping to pay a portion of the costs. Long Branch’s final total part of the bill will be $600,000 to $650,000, he said.


Anthony: Council hurts E’town liability, and my reputation: Borough attorney won’t ask to be reappointed at the end of the year

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — The topsy-turvy world of politics in Eatontown lost another public servant at the October 23 meeting. In a somewhat stunning turn of events, Borough Attorney Gene Anthony announced he will not accept another term in his office if it were offered to him — and giving his reasons why.

In short, Anthony felt he wasn’t getting any respect.

He said he was running into several major problems when dealing with some members of the council. For one, those members did not seem to want to follow his advice. “It opens you up to liability or loss of insurance… that’s something you want to avoid at all costs.”

Secondly, those who disagree with Anthony allegedly are circumventing his advice altogether — or going to a completely different lawyer.

All of that is a bit too much. “I will not seek re-appointment as the borough attorney,” he said. The borough attorney is a professional appointment, chosen by the mayor and council.

Anthony said that the constant challenges to his advice pose a danger to his reputation. “I’ve worked on this job for four years — served this borough council in other years, and in other towns in other years — and I will not put myself in that position further. I will continue to finish my contract through this year because I have a contractual obligation and I feel I have a moral obligation to the citizens of Eatontown whom I have served for 35 years.”

He said borough employees also worked very hard, with little fanfare or recognition for their extra efforts. Borough Clerk Julie Martin and her staff were singled out, as was the soon-to-be-departing Borough Administrator Cherron Rountree.

“Show all the staff the respect they deserve because they are working on a day-to-day basis to carry out your policies,” he concluded.

Anthony was the fourth major employee in Eatontown to announce his resignation that week. Rountree announced she was leaving to take the position of Borough Administrator in Holmdel, and Zoning Officer Erik Brachman, and Public Works Director Spencer Carpenter also said they would be leaving the borough.



Mass resignation for OEM department in Oceanport

By Neil Schulman

Oceanport — The coordinators of the Office of Emergency Management and all but one volunteer for the department have all submitted their letters of resignation effective at the end of the year. They have said Borough Council members have not funded the purchase of an essential vehicle, which has been unusable for nearly two years, and they have “no confidence” in the council members on the Public Safety Committee.

OEM Director Mauro “Buzz” Baldanza told The Link that at the Oct. 17 council meeting, he read a prepared statement on “lack of action” to replace a vehicle which broke down in early 2018.

Council members have called the events of the Oct. 17 Borough Council meeting a “political theater” and say they have supported emergency responders.

At the meeting, Baldanza said that, “In January of 2018, the OEM 2004 Dodge Durango had an engine failure, the repair of which was more than the vehicle was worth. So it was removed from service. This vehicle served as our response vehicle, equipped with radio communications, a laptop computer with internet capabilities, a rear command console with floor plans, area maps, incident command vest, 6 portable radios, assorted supplies and equipment.”

Baldanza told The Link that having this equipment in the vehicle saved valuable time, allowing him to enter reports and data without having to go back to the office. It also allowed the OEM to keep in communications if there was a power outage.

In 2018, when council asked for request items for the capital budget, Baldanza said OEM submitted a quote for a replacement vehicle. After some more research, he submitted a second, lower quote for a $68,000 vehicle.

“The design of this vehicle was based on the potential risk factors the community could face and not just on a whim,” he said.

“It wasn’t till June 2019 that I had to text our CFO and asked if the vehicle replacement was being funded. I was told it was not,” Baldanza told council. “I never got a word, email, phone call, not one form of communication from Public Safety or Finance council members on this matter.”

He said there has only been one Public Safety meeting since 2015, in June 2018. Baldanza told council that with the exception of Councilman Michael O’Brien, who joined this year, he and the other members of the OEM have “no confidence” in the Finance or Public Safety Committees.

He said that working at the OEM has been a passion since he started.

“But when your community leaders, don’t support your efforts, that’s when the passion fire really starts to burn out and the fire of indignation builds.”

As a result, Baldanza announced that he, Chris Baggot, 1st Assistant Director; Wes Sherman, 2nd Assistant Director; and Police Chief Michael Kelly serving as 3rd Assistant Director, along with volunteers Pat Hickey, Rich Barnes, Keith Seely, Christina Ellam, Wendy Baggot, and Kevin Arban, were resigning effective Jan. 1. They would be resigning sooner, he said, but it’s hurricane season and they don’t want to leave the borough unprotected during a potential weather threat.

“We feel this drastic action is necessary to illustrate our collective professional concerns for the well-being of the residents of the community that we love and serve,” he said.

Baldanza told The Link News that he’s been with the Oceanport OEM for 18 years, taking over as Coordinator when its former head, Harry Sutton, was promoted to Police Chief. He’s been through numerous storms, as well as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy and other situations.

The position of OEM Director pays $4,000 a year.

Facebook pages exploded.

The Oceanport Republican Committee page posted a lengthy refutation from the Committee of Baldanza’s remarks, saying “your Council most certainly supports our emergency responders.” (Normally posts under the name “Oceanport Republican Committee” are made by Councilman Robert Proto.)

The post said that Baldanza already has a taxpayer funded truck he drives to and from his office. (Another post on the Oceanport Residents Facebook page said that since the summer Baldanza has left this truck behind a firehouse for OEM use, since it has the sirens and other equipment staff might need for emergency use).

The Oceanport Republican’s post also suggested this was an “orchestrated piece of political theater” for the Nov. 5 election, where Proto is running against incumbent mayor Coffey.

“The timing of Buzz’s resignation is also suspect. Did he resign in June when the budget was passed? No! If not getting his truck was so tragic, why didn’t he resign then? Did he notify anyone on council of his intentions between June and tonight? No! Could it be that he timed his announcement at the last meeting before the election in 2 weeks, while in front of a roomful of Mayor Coffey’s supporters? Most definitely!”

The post went on to say that the Finance and Public Safety Committees had made several purchases to help emergency responders this year, and rejected others.

Purchases included two power cots for the First Aid Squad, and a pair of SUVs for the police department. OEM’s truck was rejected though, as was a request for a $1 million new fire truck.

“Our jobs require making difficult decisions. Sometimes that means being unpopular and getting berated publicly. We know it comes with the territory and are still willing to make those tough calls,” the post said, urging voters to support Proto and his running mates, Councilman Joe Irace and Steve Solan, because making these decisions keeps the budget under control.

“The choice… is as clear as can be. Proto, Irace and Solan are the candidates willing to say no and make the difficult decisions because we always put taxpayers first,” the Oceanport Republican Committee said.

Many on the Oceanport Residents group had other comments and opinions, with a post announcing Baldanza’s resignation quickly getting over 100 posts.

“I do disaster and resilience research. Buzzy is well known and very very very well respected by emergency mangers, disaster planners, flood plain managers and private consultants throughout the state and region,” said Jack Harris. “His Sandy response was a masterful orchestration of volunteers, local know-how, and state and federal assistance… This action actually puts the town in jeopardy.”

Others, such as Maura Kelly, did see this as a call to vote for Coffey and his team.

“We need a big change for our community which is feeling so divided and lacking that friendly, warm feeling Oceanport is known for. I really feel that Buzzy didn’t deserve how he was treated,” she wrote.



Fall Festival offers treats, crafts, kids and pooch parades

By Patty Booth O’Neill

Some were scary, some were original, all were adorable – kids and pets.

Saturday was perfect weather for the Fall Festival sponsored by the Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce and Pier Village.

There were plenty of rides and activities for the kids, craft tables with jewelry and clothing and much more with a lively DJ that kept things moving. To the delight of everyone, there were plenty of costumed characters roaming around, interacting with the kids and posing for photos.

“This is one of my favorite events held here,” said Nicole Gilford, head of marketing for Pier Village. “After this we start preparing for the Tree Lighting in December, another one of my favorites.”

The afternoon started with the Pooch Parade with over 45 dogs and owners showing off their costumes, the most entrees so far.

“This event gets bigger every year,” said Chamber Executive Director Nancy Kleiberg. “We’re very thankful that Pier Village offers to help sponsor it with us.”

The event started in West End, but lost that space after the street and sidewalks were reconfigured.

“Pier Village offered to hold it, and as it turns out, it’s a perfect match.”

Dog owners were serious about dressing up and the dogs were hysterical as they paraded along the boardwalk to be judged on their costumes.

The kids then parade around, though not judged, and then went trick or treating at the stores.


Pooch Parade winners

1st Place Winner: Luigi’s Italian Ice, Owner: Holly & Bob Wigdor, East Brunswick

2nd Place: Lunch Box, Owner: Vanessa Monesano, Clifton

3rd Place: Mermaid Kami, Owner: Kristin Honey, Spring Lake

If you would like to see a fun video of all the funny, creative costumes, go to The Link News on Facebook.

For more photos go to The linknews.net


Theater Review: Sex, violence and surprises make Lily a compelling drama

By Madeline Schulman

Long Branch — Christopher Daftsios, who wrote and stars in Lily, now having its World Premiere at NJ Rep, has created a juicy role for himself. Country music star Toby Crenshaw is an easy man to dislike. Within minutes of finishing his performance at a concert arena in Omaha, Toby has gulped a handful of pills and a swig of Jack Daniels, stripped to his red, white and blue briefs (hilariously sucking in his gut when others can see him), refused to do any encores or meet the mayor of Omaha, been gratuitously rude to his manager, Sam (Tait Ruppert) and his right hand man, Tommy (Adam von Pier) and revealed that he recently forgot his son’s birthday.

Yet even such a monster of ego and entitlement doesn’t deserve the torrent of physical and mental anguish about to be unleashed on him.

Christopher Daftsios and Joy Donze in Lily, having its world premiere at NJ Rep. (Andrea Phox Photography photo)

Tommy’s job includes screening young girls to entertain Toby in his dressing room after a performance, gathering their IDs to make sure they are legal and attractive.

At the head of the line on the night Lily takes place is “Haley from Georgia” (Joy Donze), beautiful, sexy, and full of secrets. Haley is clear that she is in charge of anything between her and Toby, and she uses her amazing strength and fighting skills to enforce her terms.

After sex, Haley reveals that she has the means to blackmail Toby, and some shocking news which will make the revelation of their intercourse the end of his career.

Special praise to Fight/Intimacy Director Brad Lemons. The violence is really scary. The “intimacy” is really believable, a good reason why no one under 17 is admitted to Lily.

Daftsios and Donze are excellent, and Ruppert and von Pier get to shine in two of the quieter moments of the play. While trying to find a solution to Toby’s problems, Sam reminisces about the happy day when he first discovered Toby’s talent and gave him the guitar Toby still cherishes. Tommy reveals to Haley that he might have been more than a combination bouncer and pimp because of a beautiful secret talent. Perhaps if his entourage had not coddled and enabled him, Toby could have been the decent human who sometimes appears behind his facade.

The setting by Jessica Parks is a dressing room with kitchen facilities and an en suite bathroom. It is so nice that my husband joked it might be a mistake, since the actors at NJ Rep might demand equal facilities. Let’s hope that instead they keep presenting thought-provoking drama.

Lily runs through Nov. 24 at NJ Rep, 179 Broadway. Regular performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. For tickets and information visit njrep.org or call 732-229-3166.

Gopal visits Oakhurst Easterseals

Ocean Township — Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) recently visited Easterseals New Jersey Day Habilitation Center in Oakhurst.

Senator Vin Gopal at Easterseals New Jersey Day Habilitation Center.

Gopal and the Easterseals staff discussed the services that they deliver to more than 5,000 New Jerseyans each year, including the program participants in the Oakhurst center.

Gopal expressed his support for providing the resources needed to ensure that care for the developmentally disabled is available. Day Habilitation services fill a critical role in the continuum of care by ensuring that program participants lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. Easterseals New Jersey offers those in the Day Habilitation Program the ability to participate in community life through volunteer work, educational opportunities and recreational activities.

The Day Habilitation Programs works with adults 21 and over who have an intellectual and or developmental disability to assist them in achieving their life goals. Their community-based day program staff teach participants valuable life skills through hands-on instruction and real world experiences.



Gov Joins Celebration of 50 Years of Love

By Patty O’Neill

Long Branch – It was a festive night at White Chapel Project in Long Branch on Sunday night.

Tammy Murphy, Emily Sonesso, Jan Moore, Governor Murphy, filmmaker Robin Kampf and Jess Alaimo, Co-Founder of the Asbury Park Women’s Convention.

The dance room was flashing with colorful lights, DJ Mick Hale blared popular disco sounds from the 70s, and the dance floor was alive with dancers, including drag queens Savannah Georgia, Sheina Kage, and Rhedd Rhum.

The special occasion was the LGBTQ+ community coming together to celebrate equality and diversity by hosting its first-ever “Gimme the Tea: Retro-Style Tea Dance” honoring New Jersey pioneers in the fight for equality. The event was hosted by community activist group “CommUNITY.”

Mayor John Pallone presented guests of honor Emily Sonnessa and Jan Moore with a Certificate of Recognition honoring their 50 years of being together, 5th wedding anniversary, Emily’s 90th birthday and October as LGBTQ+ History Month. Congressman Frank Pallone was also present to celebrate the occasion.

Pallone read that, “As members

of Garden State Equality, Jan and Emily have been pioneers who were part of a social movement of equality that changed the course of history, set the bar for advocacy and have been supportive members of the LBGTQ+ community.”

No longer hidden among the disco crowd, the guests of honor Jan and Emily made their way to the stage to listen to Governor Phil Murphy’s presentation.

“This is a wonderful event and a great cause,” Sonnessa. “I’m just so happy with the progress that has been made.”

Governor Phil Murphy and his wife Tammy showed up to tout New Jersey and sing the couple a happy birthday/anniversary song.

He was invited to the event by Robin Kampf, a Long Branch filmmaker who made the movie Love Wins, about Emily and Jan, the two Ocean Grove women who fell in love 50 years ago when doing so was considered taboo. They were legally married in 2013.

“We were asked by Robin to come out today to help celebrate not only their 50 years together, but also Emily’s 90th birthday,” Murphy told the crowd. “And we said, ‘Hell yeah.”‘

Murphy spoke about how New Jersey has good values for households, respect for the environment, gun safety laws, how it treats our immigrant brothers and sisters, and women’s health. “And we intend to be number one in the American class in all those areas, as well as the environment we provide for the LGBTQ+ Community,” he said.



Oceanport police chief makes the FBI one percent

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr

Oceanport — Last week Police Chief Michael Kelly left for an 11-week intense training and certification program. The training takes place at the prestigious FBI National Academy on the grounds of the United States Marine Base Quantico in Virginia.

Oceanport Police Chief Michael Kelly is receiving special training from the FBI National Academy in Virginia.

Kelly, who had applied for the academy in 2017, received notification early this summer that his application was accepted and if he wanted, he could attend the fall 2019 session. Less than one percent of law enforcement officers globally are afforded the opportunity to attend the prestigious training.

“I was shocked when they contacted me. However, it is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I am blessed to work in a community and for a governing body that allowed me to attend this very intense and leader driven training,” said Kelly.

Session 278 started last week and Kelly is one of the 220 law enforcement officers who come from 35 countries to learn from the FBI. Course content includes behavioral science, forensic science, understanding terrorism/terrorist mindsets, leadership, communication, and health/fitness. “I have already lost 15-pounds getting in shape for the academy,” Kelly said.

At the end of the 11-week academy, all attendees participate in the “Yellow Brick Road” which is the final fitness challenge. It is a grueling 6.1-mile run through a hilly, wooded trail built by Marines. Along the way, the participants must climb over walls, run through creeks, jump through simulated windows, scale rock faces with ropes, crawl under barbed wire in muddy water, maneuver across a cargo net, and much more. “When you finish and pass the test you are actually given a yellow brick to memorialize the achievement,” added Kelly.

Kelly grew up in Jersey City, and then his family moved to Spring Lake when he was in elementary school. After high school, he attended Brookdale Community College and then earned a BA in criminal justice from Seaton Hall University. His law enforcement career started as a Class II officer in Manasquan. Kelly then attended the Monmouth County Police Academy going alternate route, paying for it himself.

During his time in Oceanport, Kelly was appointed sergeant in October 2011. He was elevated to the rank of lieutenant in January 2014, and named chief of the department in 2017.

The FBI provides housing for all the officers while at the academy. “I will be celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary while in Quantico and the birthday of one of my children. My wife and kids are very understanding and supportive as they know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Kelly.

Requirements to attend the national academy are very strict. An officer must hold the rank of lieutenant or higher, be in law enforcement full-time, be in excellent physical condition, capable of strenuous exertion and regular participation in the use of firearms and defensive tactics. They must pass an FBI physical examination and a background investigation. The last condition is that graduates of the national academy must remain in law enforcement for a minimum of three years after graduating.

On July 29, 1935, the National Academy was created in response to a 1930 study that recommended the standardization and professionalization of law enforcement departments across the United States.

“Each class or session has between 30 and 50 students from international police agencies and 200 from all over the states. What a great network of colleagues I will have developed after this training. It will not only benefit me professionally, but it will be a great resource for the residents of Oceanport,” Kelly said.




Getting ready to celebrate 100 years of Oceanport

By Neil Schulman

Oceanport — In 2020, Oceanport turns 100, and the Oceanport Historical Committee is getting things in place.

It wasn’t the first time Rosanne Letson has spoken about the upcoming centennial celebrations. In September, she showed this commemorative t-shirt they sold at the Summer’s End Festival.

At a recent Borough Council meeting, committee member Rosanne Letson gave a status update of what has been happening.

Borough historian Frank Baricelli and other members of the committee are working on a book to commemorate the centennial. It will update a volume published in 1970 for the borough’s 50th anniversary.

Earlier in the meeting, council had applied for a grant to help publish the book. Oceanport needed to apply since the committee doesn’t have its own Federal ID number, but Letson said that this grant will help tremendously with the costs.

“The book is a reality. It’s going to happen,” she said.

The committee is also planning a Holiday Home Tour in December. So far 11 homes have signed up.

The tour will be Dec. 8, from 11-3 p.m., just before the annual tree lighting.

In addition to seeing how the homes are decorated for the holidays, local businesses will supply sweets to eat, and the Garden Club is creating holiday centerpieces for the homes.

Tickets are $40.

In January, the committee will decorate the streets with decorative banners and flags hung along the post. They’ll be on display on Main Street and, if there are enough sponsors, also along Fort Monmouth.

Letson also urged people to check out the Oceanport Centennial Facebook Page, which is full of old photos of the borough.

A lot of them spark discussion, especially when people try to identify who’s in the photos, she said.


WLB Council considering new parking restrictions/changes

By Coleen Burnett

West Long Branch — Too many vehicles have ended up being parked in the lot at Borough Hall for too long a time – and its forcing the West Long Branch council to look into some possible restrictions or changes.

Councilman Stephen Bray broached the subject at the caucus session of the October 2nd meeting. The discussion was prompted by an email that was sent to him by a member of the police force.

It turns out that the parking lot (located at 965 Broadway) has no particular rules or regulations regarding its use.

Bray suggested the rules for another municipal lot — located at the intersection of Monmouth Road and Cedar Avenue — be used as a template for the Broadway lot.

Such a template would possibly include designated parking spaces for the Police Department, Fire Department, and Emergency Services. There would also be spaces designated for the public (along with handicapped spaces), and perhaps a time limit. Bray suggested the limit should be four hours.

“I think if we make it simple it will give us that flexibility,” said Bray.

There were other complaints, including one from both Councilwoman MaryLynn Mango and Borough Administrator Stephanie Dollinger that there were problems setting up the machine used for the recent shredding event due to the number of cars that were in the lot and the logistics of where they were parked.

This was on a weekend. “That’s another example,” said Mango.

Councilman Christopher Neyhart agreed it was a problem that has to be addressed. “In the lot out here, we have numerous people that leave their cars out there for numerous days.” He added that it would be one thing if they got permission to leave their cars from Police Chief Paul Habermann, but they weren’t even doing that.

It was decided, for now, the issue will be explored further.