By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — The U.S. Department of Justice has given the city a $1.5 million grant, which will be used to rehire four police officers.
Last year, Long Branch had to lay off several police officers due to budgetary constraints. This grant will pay to bring back four of them, and pay their salaries for three years.
At the Oct. 12 City Council meeting, Long Branch formally accepted the $1,518,388 Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring grant.
City Finance Officer Ron Mehlhorn said that Long Branch had applied for the COPS grant, and scored “very high” on the eligibility criteria.
“We were asking for anything. They actually gave us (enough money for) four,” he said.
The grant pays for the returning officers through 2014, but requires the city keep the officers for at least one more year. Despite this, there are circumstances where the city could again lay them off in 2015.
“There is a hardship clause,” City Attorney James Aaron said. Since forced layoffs are imposed on the most recent hires first, if the city is looking at another round in four years, the officers could wind up out of a job again. “These people do not jump or maintain special seniority.”
Still, Mehlhorn said that’s unlikely to happen.
He’s expecting several retirements in the police department next year. The replacement officers would then has the least seniority, so those rehired by the COPS grant would be safe.
Long Branch was one of a dozen communities in New Jersey to receive a COPS grant this year.
Parking limits on Berg Ave.
Cars will no longer be allowed to park on Berg Avenue for days and weeks at a time.
Council has introduced an ordinance which will prohibit parking on both sides of the road from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, between Norwood and Van Court avenues.
The majority of residents surveyed had asked for some form of restriction to be put in, city officials said.
Dave Wolpin, a resident there, said that the problems began several years ago, when neighboring streets imposed restrictions to keep students from Monmouth University from leaving cars on their road for long stretches. Many of those drivers moved their vehicles to Berg Avenue, and it’s often “cars back to back,” blocking residents and causing congestion, he said.
“I think we’re all at a point where we’re looking forward to no parking signs,” he said.
Originally published Oct. 13, 2011