By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
Long Branch – During the May 13 virtual council meeting a question was asked of Michael Martin, Director of Finance and CFO, if the city can make its required payments to Monmouth County and the board of education. “We currently have enough to meet our needs to both the county and school,” Martin said.
According to Mayor John Pallone, the city must pay Monmouth County $3 million for the second quarter by May 15. They also pay the Long Branch Board of Education $4 million every month. “We are in good shape financially and don’t see any issues for the next quarter,” said Pallone.
Governor Murphy had given an executive order which allowed tax payers a 30-day extension on paying property taxes. However, that May 1 to June 1 extension was left up to the individual communities of New Jersey. Pallone said that Long Branch immediately took advantage of that executive order. “Taxes were due May 1, but there is a 10-day grace period that allows residents to pay without a penalty. So the new executive order allows residents to now pay up to June 10 without a penalty,” said Pallone. However, the interest on the tax payment does date back to May 1, 2020.
Residents were given a 30-day grace period; however, municipalities were not. Long Branch had the funds to make their required payments on time. Martin was asked how long the city could continue and if they were planning on collecting less in property taxes as more and more individuals are out of work. According to Martin, Long Branch is okay until the next quarter and they will have to see what they have at that time.
Another benefit that Long Branch has provided residents is a five-year tax abatement on any improvements they make to their property. “It is a win-win situation. Residents are given a five-year abatement on any upgrades to $25,000. Businesses are also given the same break on any improvements up to $100,000,” said Pallone.
Another big topic during the meeting was the proposed community pool on Atlantic Avenue. Long Branch is getting a multi-million-dollar swimming facility which will have a large pool, kiddie pool and playground along with a concession stand. It was an agreement the city made with a developer of Ocean Gate townhouses located on Ocean Boulevard between Seaview Avenue and Broadway. The developer, who will receive a tax abatement on their property, will also spend a half-million on drainage improvements in the area of the proposed pool.
Residents in the area of the proposed site on Atlantic Avenue are concerned about flooding since that area is always underwater during storms. The site is located right on the river’s edge which is also a worry for some. One caller asked why the residents were not involved in the site selection.
“We are accepting public comment on the pool until June 15,” said Pallone. Then we will be going for a CAFRA permit from the Department of Environmental Protect, which should take about 90-days to receive.” The Coastal Area Facility Act (CAFRA) regulates residential and commercial development along waterways. “Once we have all the permits; the developer has 30 days to start construction.”
It seems that everyone loves the idea of having a community pool, just not in the selected location. Others were hoping for an enclosed pool so it could be accessed year round. “We are working with residents in the area who have concerns,” Pallone said.
City ordinance 18-20 that had Long Branch abandoning a right of way which is located off Morrell Street was put on hold until June 10. The roadway is located behind Snow White Laundry Village, Rainbow Liquors, Enzo’s Auto Services and Woolley-Boglioli Funeral home businesses on Broadway. It seems that someone in the area had hired an attorney and is discussing the process with the city attorney.
Council approved resolutions approving Jewish American Heritage Month, Asian/Pacific Heritage Month, Haitian Heritage Month and declaring May 20, 2020 as Older American Month in the city.
Long Branch also approved plans on opening the beaches this weekend. Pallone stated that the governor will be sending out guidelines on how municipalities can open safely. “We are waiting for his guidance on how to social distancing will work on the beaches and the parking restrictions that will be coming,” said Pallone.
At the end of the meeting Council President Bill Dangler, said that he was opposed to opening the boardwalk and beaches. “I’m not comfortable opening the boardwalk. I was there last weekend and 20-percent or less of those were wearing masks,” said Dangler. He a Rabbi who is a friend of his told him a story.
A father and son were in a concentration camp during World War II, when the Nazis were going to kill them. The father told another that he had diamonds in his pocket and was going to offer them to the German soldiers hoping they didn’t kill his son. The other person told the father that they have orders to kill a certain amount, so if it’s not your son, it will be another.
“The moral of the story is when is it ok to destroy one diamond for another. It’s too soon to have a free for all on the beach. I just had to get that off my chest,” Dangler said.