School bus radios, the safety of Wampum Lake, off-track betting, and the World Trade Center Memorial were the big talkers on Thursday at the first official meeting of the year of the newly re-organized Oceanport Borough Council.
Editor's Note: The above video features council members giving their annual addresses at the Oceanport Reorganization meeting, which was held on New Year's Day. Re-elected Mayor Michael Mahon was sworn in for a four-year term. Council members Ellynn Kahle and Richard Gallo were re-elected to three-year terms.
OFF-TRACK WAGERING DEBATE RAGES ON
During the workshop session of the meeting, the council discussed a bill making its way through the state legislature. This bill would increase off-track horse betting options across the state. The measure would allow 12 bars and restaurants in Northern New Jersey to offer bets on races both in and out-of-state, although none would be allowed to operate in Monmouth County.
The council also noted that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed building the nation's largest convention center at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens.
"New Jersey is behind the eight-ball in gambling measures, that's for sure. But an increase to off-track wagering in our state is a positive as we move forward," said Coucilman Jerry Bertekap.
WAMPUM LAKE POLLUTION
Councilwoman Elynn Kahle brought up the ongoing issues regarding the safety of Wampum Lake. In November, , who serves on the (RAB) for Fort Monmouth's redevelopment and the environmental staff advisory committee of the (FMERA), wondered if the Army is responsible for the pollution of Wampum Lake. Dlugosz wants to launch a study to find out what is responsible regardless.
Councilwoman Kahle brought some of his findings to Thursday's meeting, and promised to send the full presentation that Dlugosz created to the council in order to have it posted for the public's consumption.
"These contaminants are flowing into Oceanport, and they're largely carcinogens," Kahle said. "Dlugosz's argument is that we should test whatever is causing these to be in the Lake. If they were already there, then fine, at least we know that. But if it is from Fort Monmouth, the army should be held accountable."
The Borough's Environmental Commission will meet on Monday to discuss further action regarding the concern. The council will review any findings at their next meeting.
LACK OF SCHOOL BUS RADIOS OUTRAGES PARENTS
Mayor Mahon discussed an ongoing battle that the school superintendent brought to his attention.
"They're struggling to find a way to install two-way radios on their school buses," Mayor Mahon said.
Two local parents, who were in attendance to receive awards for the township's holiday decorating contest, discussed incidents where their children were left behind on school buses.
"It was forty-five minutes of pure torture," Oceanport resident, Mike Sikand, told the council, as he recollected the day that his young daughter was left on the bus.
Police Chief Harold W. Sutton asked the council if the buses would be able to use the old radios that the police have available However, no immediate decision was made because the issue was deemed to be a matter for the school board. Nonetheless, the township promised to help in any way possible.
WORLD TRADE CENTER STEEL WILL COME TO OCEANPORT
And residents can expect to see expansions to the township's September 11th memorial, as a piece of the World Trade Center will be coming into town.
"This afternoon we received a call from the governor's office telling us that we have been approved to receive a piece of steel from the sight of the World Trade Center to use in our memorial," Councilman William Johnson announced.
No details are available as to when the town will receive the steel, but Mayor Mahon says the town will work closely with the borough planning board and families of September 11th victims to plan for the arrival of the artifact.