A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

News Updates as of 29 April 2010

  • Clean Ocean Action (COA) released its 2009 Beach Sweeps data, per Atlanticville. 74 volunteers picked up more than 3,000 pieces of debris from Cliffwood Beach last year.  This year's event was last Saturday.
  • Home Facts provides a list of local criminal and sex offenders. We've got three at the moment.
  • Local Babe Ruth Softball website.
  • There was a college football recruiting event at Matawan this past weekend, per ESPN. It was apparently the place to be for the best players in the NJ/Phila area.
  • The first comment on an APP article about dune restoration at Sandy Hook was a sharp response from an advocate of Cliffwood Beach. Kim wrote, "It would be nice if Monmouth County cared about other beaches. Cliffwood Beach in Aberdeen Township was leveled after the last storm, yet nothing has been done other than remove the dunes from Ocean Blvd by pushing it back onto the side of the road. The Middlesex County side of Cliffwood Beach has seen some cleaning up already. Aberdeen Township never cares about it’s parks – it’s sad. I have some pictures if you are interested."
  • SJV crushed the Huskies in girls softball, per NJ.com. The girls' result was much closer but still a loss against Colts Neck, per NJ.com. Boys baseball fared even worse against Holmdel, per NJ.com.
  • The Aberdeen Family Fishing Contest is coming up on 8 May 2010, per APP Fishing Calendar.
  • A NY1 reporter, a resident of Matawan, recently lost her sexual harassment case against her employer, according to the NY Daily News.
  • Parkway 120, a new office building at 90 Matawan Road in Laurence Harbor, has won the Energy Star compliance rating, per Pitch Engine.
  • McTeach was a MAMS PTSO project that involved teachers getting behind the counter at the McDonald's on Route 34, per The Independent. They encouraged people to vote in the school board elections that day.
  • The Matawan Aberdeen School Board installed its new members, per APP. Incumbent Jeff Delaney and past board president Pat Demarest were sworn in for Aberdeen, the latter replacing Tom Gambino. Anissa Esposito is replacing Larry O'Connell as the Matawan representative on the board. Charles Kenny was nominated to continue in the role of board president. Elizabeth Loud-Hayward was voted in as Vice President. The teachers union expects to discuss its next contract with the board on 6 May. The next board meeting will be 10 May. (See my 6 March article for further info about the new board members.
  • The Board of Education axed the golf team before consulting with the coach, per APP. She would have liked to have had a chance to seek accommodations from vendors and students first. The team has produced some college stars, so it's a real shame to lose it if it could have been saved.
  • 1-2 May 2010 Weekend in Old Monmouth to include visit to Burrowes mansion, per Atlanticville. The Keyport Steamboat dock Museum and the Longstreet Farm in Holmdel are also featured.
  • True Love Bridal came to the rescue in a pinch, per APP.
  • A 16-year old Matawan girl attending Collier High School is mentioned in an APP article. Read more about the school in this associated article.

Greater Aberdeen Garage Sale

The Greater Aberdeen Garage Sale will be held Sunday 6 June. Sign up today! Check out Aberdeener's post on the subject (and the many, many unrelated comments - always amusing).

Special Meeting of MAPL Board Canceled - 29 April 2010

Just as mysteriously as it appeared, the special meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library scheduled for this evening 29 April 2010 has been canceled. No doubt decisions have been made behind the scenes that obviate the need for formal personnel action. Isn't that the way business is done of late? I remember the last extraordinary meeting that was scheduled and then canceled. An impromptu retirement came out of that one. Guess we'll have to wait and see who doesn't show up for work.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the board is to be 5 May 2010 at 7:30 pm. Be sure to attend. They are bound to explain why the elevator is still out of order. Well, maybe not, but we can ask anyway.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Route 35N in Hazlet Under Construction

I came across a long line of dump trucks, construction cones, and police vehicles along Route 35 North in Hazlet tonight between Friendly's and the Red Oak Diner. Luckily I was going the other way. It looks like they might be working there a couple of days or more. Middle Road is a good alternate route.

Special mtg of library trustees

Special mtg of library trustees is scheduled for Thurs 29 Apr at 7:30 pm to discuss personnel issues. Action may be taken.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I drove by Samaha's Farm

I drove by Samaha's Farm Market on Saturday. They still aren't open for the season.

St Joseph's Carnival

I passed a sign yesterday for the St Joseph's Carnival in Keyport. It is to be held 26-30 May, 2010. The carnival always includes carnival rides, food, and games. It is held in the ballfield behind the church along Lloyd Road.

Fun and Food - 24 & 25 April 2010

Saturday evening we went for a long walk and then headed over to Bertucci's for dinner. They have a wonderful new item on their special menu called Parma pizza: Rosemary ham, roasted zucchini, marinated red onions, plum tomatoes, mozzarella, grated cheese and fresh thyme. Drizzled with balsamic nectar. It's truly divine.

Sunday we went to MAMS to see their 2010 musical presentation of Anything Goes. Kayla Ryder as Reno Sweeney was exceptional  -- what a voice! Luke Shapiro as Billy Crocker and James Buhse as Moonface Martin were also quite good. A special shout out to the Tapping Angels, too. Fine job! The set was amazing, costumes well appointed, and the pit showed some real flare. Nicely done, all.

We had another engagement, so we rushed across town to attend Hot Chili and Cool Music at the First Presbyterian Church, featuring the Rhythm Kings Dixieland Band. Jerry Rife of Rider University has been bringing his band to perform in the church's concert series for twenty years. A wonderful time and great chili and corn bread!

I hope some of you have been keeping up with The Pacific on HBO. Tonight was Episode 7. My father served in the Army Air Corps in Australia during World War II and I had an uncle who fought in New Guinea, so I've watched with particular interest. I hope you get a chance to visit the National WWII Memorial in Washington, DC or the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA. The HBO series reminds me that war is hell in every meaning of the word and for every generation it affects. We must honor their service but always remember our troops who remain in harm's way and get them home as soon as possible.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

MA-17 and the Stream That Runs Under Main Street in Matawan

Does anyone know the name of the small stream that runs between Broad Street and Main Street behind the Starbucks and Trattoria Rustica in Matawan? You can see it from Terhune Park. It crosses under Main Street at a reinforced crossing designated MA-17 just north of Washington Street, right across the street from the Kat Shack. The stream continues at an angle away from Washington Street towards Lake Lefferts. The Lake Lefferts Dam drains 6.1 square miles, according to Findlakes, presumably including this stream.

Based on Google Maps, the stream simply disappears underground before it reaches Broad Street. Perhaps it goes under the no-man's-land between Walgreens and the Broad Street Community Center, then under the Henry Hudson Trail to join up somehow with Gravelly Brook?Anyone familiar with this part of its journey?

The corner of Main and Washington Streets in Matawan. The Kat Shack is to the left across Washington. The north side of MA-17 can be seen to the right of the street sign.

The south side of MA-17 as viewed from beyond Washington Street looking towards Starbucks.

MA-17 on the south side of Main Street, just beyond Starbucks looking towards Terhune Park.

The small stream viewed from Main Street looking towards Broad Street. You can just see a concrete structure in the far distance (top left corner of picture) that seems to be where the stream emerges from below ground.

Another view of the small stream as viewed from the south side of Main Street.

There is a ravine surrounding this part of the stream with small trees and bushes.

The Kat Shack bar as seen from behind the supporting wall of MA-17 across Main Street near Terhune Park.

A better view of the brickwork supporting MA-17 on the south side of Main Street.

The face of MA-17 on the north side of Main Street.

The small stream viewed from the north side of Main Street looking towards Lake Lefferts.

The deep ravine on the north side of Main Street is heavily treed. Some trees are covered with vines. The foundation of the first building on Washington Street can be seen in the top left corner of this picture.

Many of the trees are growing on the steeply sloped ground and are in danger of falling into the ravine. In the foreground an uprooted tree has died and is leaning precariously on another. The small stream can be seen in the center with what looks like a makeshift retaining wall to the right of it.

Beautiful Terhune Park is right next door.

The small stream passes through the woods behind this Terhune Park playground.

The First Baptist Church and other fine architecture along Main Street can be seen from Terhune Park.

Bruno's Wine-Liquor and Food Market, Cliffwood, NJ

I stopped in on Saturday and chatted with the owners of Bruno's Wine-Liquor and Food Market. They told me the place has been owned and operated by the Bruno family for three generations. Their grandparents, Guisseppe (Joseph) and Assunta (Susie) Bruno, moved from Perth Amboy to Cliffwood in the early 1940s and purchased what was once the old Cliffwood Hotel (the building on the right with the Hershey Ice Cream sign in front) at 255 Cliffwood Avenue. Joseph had operated Bruno's Spaghetti House in Perth Amboy until that time.

The Brunos made their new property into a general store to serve its rural neighbors, selling hardware and farm supplies like chicken wire, some groceries, and homegrown vegetables. They kept farm animals -- pigs, goats, chickens, and horses. The current Bruno owners remember Smokey and Arnold and the other animals more as pets. They laughed as they pointed out that some of their neighbors probably still recall participating in a merry chase to capture the occasional stray animal from their property.

The family might have had tenants for a while, but the hotel portion of the property was soon occupied by members of the second generation and their growing families. At least two additions were made to the left side of the building, the most recent being what is now the main store but used to be a garage and storage area.

Here's the results of some research I did on the original owners:
  • According to the Social Security Death Index, Guissepe Bruno was born 19 March 1893 and died February 1973. His last residence was in Cliffwood. The same source says Assunta Bruno was born 2 September 1899 and died in October 1986.
  • According to the 1930 Federal Census for New Jersey, Joseph Bruno was a 37 year old restaurant proprietor living at 35 Smith Street in Perth Amboy in 1930. He had immigrated from Italy to the US in 1903 and was a permanent resident alien. Living with him were a 2 year old daughter Anna and a 3 month old son Joseph, both born in New Jersey to Italian parents. Living with the Brunos was a housekeeper named Assunta Benenato, a 30 year old woman married at age 17, and the housekeeper's 6 year old daughter Lucie. Assunta arrived in the US from Italy in 1910 and was still an alien. Her daughter was born in New York to Italian parents.
  • Assunta may be the woman in the 1920 Federal Census for New York listed as the wife of Quiemo Benenato with sons Frankie (2 yrs old, born in Connecticut) and Louis (6 months old, born in New York). They were living at 26 West End Avenue in Manhattan at the time. Quiemo was a dock laborer.
  •  Joseph Bruno's obituary in the 1 March 1973 Matawan Journal says Joseph was born in Calabria, Italy and was 79 years old when he died at Bayshore Hospital on 25 February 1973. Joseph ran Bruno's Spaghetti House in Perth Amboy before moving from that town to Cliffwood thirty years ago. His obituary says Joseph was the former owner of Bruno's General Store of Matawan Township. He was a communicant of St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Keyport. He is interred at St Joseph's Cemetery.
  • Joseph's widow was Susie Spinata Bruno, according to her husband's 1973 obituary. Their four sons were Joseph A and Rudy Bruno, both of Matawan Township; Frank Benanito and Louis (Bruno) Benanito, both of Perth Amboy. Their three daughters were Mrs Ann Grant of Middletown; Mrs Mary Lembo of Union Beach; and Mrs Lucy Brown of Woodbridge.

Cliffwood Hotel

I couldn't find much evidence of the Cliffwood Hotel. An advertisement in The New York Times dated 27 July 1865 read: AT CLIFFWOOD HOTEL, ON SEASHORE, an hour and a half from New York by steamboats; fine groves; safe sea bathing, fishing, sailing; beautiful scenery; good table; $8 - $12. Apply at No 176 Bleecker st. And a 1911 photograph of the old hotel appears on page 82 of Around Matawan and Aberdeen, by Helen Henderson (Dover, New Hampshire: Arcadia, 1996). Written on the photo was the following note: Cliffwood Hotel, some place for a good time, crowded house, some fellows. The 1910 Federal Census, however, showed no signs of a hotel proprietor in the township.

There was a 3-story hotel called The Cliffwood House on or near West Concourse in what is now called Cliffwood Beach, according to a memoir in Township of Matawan (1857-1957). The memoir says the place burned to the ground between 1875 and 1880, but the 1880 Census listed a Benjamin F Dobson as proprietor of Cliffwood House. Patrick J Sullivan and Edward Mulcahy each ran saloons in town, per the 1880 census. Twenty years earlier, William H Applegate was the proprietor of a hotel in the township valued at $4,000, per the 1860 Federal Census. He had a large family plus 5 tenants. A John Cottrell was listed as a local barkeeper in that same census.

Route 35 Flood Alert - 25 Apr 2010

Traffic was being routed onto County Road and Cliffwood Avenue this afternoon presumably due to flooding on Route 35. There was a traffic cop at Route 35 and Cliffwood Avenue around 1 pm contending with a nasty snarl of traffic. The road was still backed up past Matawan Avenue at 3:30 pm. You might wish to avoid the area for a while.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

African Americans in the Matawan Journal - 7 October 1943

I came across this interesting article while looking for something else. I thought I'd include it in my occasional series on how African Americans were presented in the Matawan Journal over the years.

This October 1943 front page article -- Newark Negro Fined For Using Abusive Language -- reports that two African American men from Newark were heading through Matawan on their way to New York when the driver was blinded by an approaching car's headlights and flipped the vehicle. The driver tangled verbally with a Matawan police officer over whether he and his friend would be allowed to leave. It seems the driver was having difficulty locating his driver's license and vehicle registration. Willie Woodward, 30 years old, was fined $13 in Matawan traffic court for addressing the officer in an uncivil manner.

Regional Districts Universally Opposed School Budgets; Small Electorates Much More Supportive

Some interesting statistics not mentioned in the APP coverage of the recent school budget votes in Monmouth and Ocean counties show that voters in regional school districts like ours nearly universally opposed their school budgets, while small electorates were much more supportive of their budget proposals.
  • Only 1 of 9 (11%) regional school districts voted in favor of their school budget.
  • 10 out of 22 (45%) accepted their school budgets in districts where less than a thousand people voted. No regional districts fit in that category, btw.

MAMS Hunkers Down for NJ ASK 2009-2010

Our school district, along with all other New Jersey districts, is scheduled to take the NJ Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK) test beginning with our 7th and 8th graders at MAMS next week.  Here's the schedule:
  • Grades 3-4 (10-14 May 2010) (makeup exams 17-21 May 2010)
  • Grades 5-6 (3-6 May 2010) (makeup exams 10-13 May 2010)
  • Grades 7-8 (27-30 April 2010) (makeup exams 3-6 May 2010)
According to the NJ ASK update, the big change this year is the more limited use of calculators for the math portion of the exam. You can also read an official letter discussing the use of manipulatives during the exam.

NJ ASK replaced the Elementary School Proficiency Assessment (ESPA) in 2003 and the Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment (GEPA) in 2008. NJ ASK added testing for grades 5-7 in 2006 to meet requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

The NJ Department of Education provides further information online about the statewide assessment of elementary schools and middle schools. Middle school test results for previous years and other middle school test related data can be found here.

Eleventh graders took the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPA) in March.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Great Coverage by Independent's Hlavenka

The Independent has great coverage of the recent zoning amendment meetings and the plight of our library. Jacqueline Hlavenka is doing a fine job covering the township's big stories. Plus the paper doesn't let the smaller stories slip through the cracks, either: check out the Mission Matawan story. Be sure to support your local town paper and shop at its sponsors.

Not Only Do We Have Memories, We Can Recall

Get this: COAH says there was no particular rush to pass that ordinance. The "mystery" developers had dropped their petition. Aberdeen Township wasn't even on the agenda for COAH's 21 April meeting. (Hat Tip+ to Aberdeener for his fine follow up.)

The New Jersey Constitution, Article I.2(b) says we can petition to remove the bums:

The people reserve unto themselves the power to recall, after at least one year of service, any elected official in this State or representing this State in the United States Congress. The Legislature shall enact laws to provide for such recall elections. Any such laws shall include a provision that a recall election shall be held upon petition of at least 25% of the registered voters in the electoral district of the official sought to be recalled.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

African Americans in the Matawan Journal - 18 December 1931

Below is the fourth in my occasional series on African Americans mentioned in old editions of the Matawan Journal. Today's article, from a paper published nearly 80 years ago, shows how African Americans of our Township and Borough gathered together to fight against a proposal to segregate our local schools. They sent a strong message back to the Board of Education rejecting the construction of a separate school for their children, who were doing fine where they were.

Majority of Colored People Frown on Segregation Plan; Have No Desire For Separate School
Seventy-five of Eighty Colored People at Meeting Express Satisfaction With Present School System.

A most exciting and interesting meeting was held by the colored men and women of Matawan Township and Borough in St. James' A. M. E. Zlon Church on Wednesday evening, to consider the segregating of the colored children of the district in a school building of their own, the personnel of which would be entirely colored.

A petition has been in circulation for some time past to which many names had been secured by Richard Lyons, who has been the prime mover in the matter. In getting the signers to the petition a spirit of opposition was engendered and it was thought advisable to have the public meeting and thresh out the differences of those in favor of and against the segregating idea.

The meeting was presided over by the Rev. C C R Jones and the proposition was freely and openly discussed by the adherents of both sides, and resulted in many personalities.

The only question that those in favor of the scheme had was that it might be better for the children to have teachers of their own blood, that they might do better in their studies if guided by them. To this the opponents replied that Matawan had never had the question of segregation raised before; that there were politics in the deal; that certain men had been promised that if they helped elect this or that man to the office of school trustee, that a colored school would be constructed for them and managed by colored teachers and officials. Now, that those who had done the work required by their superiors, wanted their promises carried out by those making them, and they being either afraid or unwilling to stand up to their promises, had advised the present mode of procedure, with the assurances that they would abide by the decision of the majority of the colored fathers and mothers. The opposing element also stated that the present was no time to load further burdens of taxation on the people of the school district; that a lot, building, equipment, teachers, janitors, and other necessary expense would have to be borne by the taxpayer, and would cost probably $15,000 or $18,000 per year, which was all uncalled for, as the children were receiving an education in the public school of the township equal to their white associates and that colored graduates from the High School compared favorably with the white graduates as to points.

Those who spoke in favor of the division were A E Davis and Richard Lyons. Those who spoke in opposition were K P Lee, S C Towler, Mrs James Simmons, Myron Suydam, Sidney Butner, John Lucas, John Johnson, Mrs Martha Suydam, and the Rev R C C Jones.

At the close of the discussion the chair stated that a vote would be taken on the question "Does this assemblage favor a change in the matter of the education of the colored children of the Matawan school district?" A rising vote was taken and seventy-five were counted as against the proposition and five in favor of the change.

A motion prevailed that a committee be appointed to secure the names of those opposed to the segregation proposition, and that the petition be presented at the next meeting of the Board of Education, and that all who desire, appear before the Board and state their favor or objection to the proposition. The chairman appointed as such committee John Johnson, John Lucas, Sidney Burton, Samuel Harrison, S C Towler. This committee will meet tonight to formulate a plan of procedure, as they are just as determined to fight any change in the method of the education of their children, as those who favor the plan.

On Thursday night another meeting was called by those in favor of the change to be held at St Moriah Baptist Church, Cliffwood, where the subject was further discussed. The Rev Mr Cokeley was chosen as chairman, and after a lengthy discussion by all who cared to have anything to say, a rising vote was taken as to whether this meeting favored the separation of the children from the white school and resulted in thirty-six voting "no" and one voting "yes."

It is thought by the opposition that the question of segregation is practically dead, as those in favor number so few that should they go before the Board together with the large negative feeling that the Board of Education will dismiss the matter.

Source: Matawan Journal, 18 December 1931, front page, continued on p 6

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Twisted Politics

The title of this blog comes from a comment in an earlier post that employed these words.

As of today (21 April 10) the minutes to the 6 April Council meeting have not been posted. I was a little late for the council meeting. Perhaps they did not include minutes approval from the prior meeting?

So in essense, if one only attended meetings based on the Agendas and the Minutes, the general populace of Aberdeen could literally have had the town sold out from under their feet without protest.

I went to the library yesterday to tell them that their master plan from 2006 for Aberdeen, upon which I had relied to inform myself was not current. I was told "They have to send that. If they don't send it, we don't have it." Do we REALLY have to read classifieds and request our own documents, and slink around with glasses to closed doors to find out what is going on?

Sounds like Jesus's parable of the unjust steward. It ends with the lesson “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”

2010 Matawan Aberdeen School District Election Results

Pat Demarest, with 1,294 votes, claims the seat on the MARSD school board being vacated by Tom Gambino. Jeff Delaney, the incumbent, successfully defended his seat with 1,254 votes. The Reverend Thelma Gattis came in a distant third with 885 votes. (Source: APP)

The school budget failed to be ratified by Matawan and Aberdeen residents, with 2,189 against the budget and only 1,645 in favor, a 544 vote difference.

Most online comments this evening suggest that the Libertarians among us are happy to have their way and to pocket a few extra dollars in the process. But their hopes to strip more administrators and union-protected teachers from the school system are simply unrealistic. We'll probably just lose more young, untenured teachers and lose some sports programs. Be sure to thank your neighborhood Tea Party member when someone asks you what it was like when the Huskies competed in a full range of sports.

Leckstein's Ten Minutes of Fame And Other Disappointments

At the Aberdeen Township Planning Board and Township Council meetings on Monday night, officials told their citizens that Aberdeen was on the precipice of a town planning disaster. Rest assured, they said, members of the board and council are just as upset as anyone else in town about this. It is an utterly regrettable circumstance. But the Commission on Affordable Housing (COAH) has tied our board and council's hands. Nothing can be done except what we've been told to do. After all, it's an ultimatum. (That's Latin for The bully says jump, so jump.) All our actions are procedural at this point, so there's simply no point in such a large crowd getting its undies in a knot over something no one can do anything about anyway.

At this point, Township Planner Richard Coppola put on his best storytime voice, grabbed a microphone and began weaving his version of how we got into the mess we are in and how things will have to go if we are to salvage anything from our soured COAH situation. I put a hand on my wallet, worried that either he or the Mayor was looking to sell me a time share. Didn't I at least get a free breakfast and use of the recreational facilities before I had to sit through their little sales spiel?

Once Coppola had spun his web, Planning Board Attorney Michael Leckstein proceeded to attempt to stifle public discussion. He proposed a ten minute public comment period to hear what was easily a hundred citizens present and waiting to be heard by their municipal officials. But this didn't sit well with the public. They rose from their seats, shouting and motioning at Mr Leckstein and the Mayor. The room went into an uproar. Ever the diplomat, the attorney threatened the crowd with police action. This provoked the crowd still further, causing things to nearly get out of control. I expected things might turn ugly.

But Mayor Fred Tagliarini stepped in and soothed the crowd. He reminded us that we all know him and that he is going to do right by us. I wasn't so sure, but people sat down anyway. The board had thoroughly failed to move this ordinance through the process without a public outcry.

Later, during the Council meeting, Township Attorney Daniel McCarthy provided his personal tour of events in Trenton six weeks earlier and reiterated what seemed to him the logical course of action: submit to COAH's demands or else.

My edited version of The Aberdeen Story: Our Township officials avoided meeting our Mt Laurel low income housing obligations for years and years. In January 2010 they were lulled into thinking that our savior Governor Christie would come into office and abolish the nasty COAH and free us from its bondage. But, lo and behold, after a 90 day waiting period we're back in the fray, worse for wear, even on the hot seat. On 10 March, Mr McCarthy found himself before an angry COAH judge, who was at wits end over our town's endless delays. Aberdeen had no proactive plan to meet its total COAH obligations -- unless you call being poked and prodded and trying to ignore it a plan. The judge settled in favor of local developers who had filed a complaint accusing us of unreasonably blocking construction of affordable housing.  We had until 21 April 2010 to meet our obligations.

So what are the dire consequences if the board and council hadn't yielded to the COAH judge? The story goes that if the township was removed from COAH's protective umbrella -- something that would have happened on Wednesday if the Council hadn't rezoned certain parcels of land on County Road and Route 34 by approving Ordinance 11-2010 -- we would have been vulnerable to builders remedy law suits. We would have totally lost control of planning and zoning matters regarding COAH, so builders would run amok with our town. We'd end up like West Long Branch or Farmingdale! Apparently we wouldn't be able to win against them, like Oceanport in 2006.

During public comments, which took the board a half hour past its scheduled time and the council til 10 pm, resident after resident stood up and asked their representatives to fight COAH and the developers. It's the American Revolution all over again! Let's fight! We're willing to take the risk. But the board and council each refused. The attorneys said it was irresponsible. Greg Cannon suggested it would be a suicide mission to challenge Trenton, sort of like running directly into murderous machine gun fire.

Maybe our municipal leaders were right to shy away from confronting the authorities over COAH? Maybe we have been derelict in our duty to meet affordable housing obligations? And maybe we would have just gotten our heads handed to us and ended up putting other Aberdeen neighborhoods at risk of uncontrolled development? But why should we believe our municipal leaders in such important matters when they tell us they don't know the names of the principals of the development firms they've been dealing with for quite a while now? How could that be? Why should I buy any assurances or guidance they offer?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NJ Transit Rail and Bus Fares to Rise 25% Effective 1 May 2010

Read the grim details here.

Why Are the 6 April 2010 Council Minutes Not Posted Online?

The 19 April 2010 Aberdeen Township Council agenda is finally available online for tomorrow's meeting, but the minutes of the 6 April 2010 meeting have yet to be published at the township's website. How can the public adequately prepare for tomorrow's meetings when the resolution in question was not included in the published 6 April agenda and its details are included in the unpublished minutes?

Politics... You gotta love it.

Governor Christie's Strident Style Is Leading to a Turbulent Summer

Per NJ.com, key leaders in Trenton think Gov Christie and his administration are being so bullheaded about their reform agenda that they just might lead the government into chaos this summer. Christie's no compromise attitude is reminiscent of his assertive courtroom days. One official remarked, “He’s talking to the Legislature as if he’s still prosecutor and we’re the defendants.”

The same official felt that Christie's staff is insensitive to the needs of the working class and poor because his administration is overly white and insufficiently experienced with novelties such as public transportation and discount stores.  “That’s why it’s so easy for them to sit around a table, slash this, put a line through that. . . . How many of the guys sitting around that table have ever even sat on a bus?”

Another official says Christie is being stubborn on giving a tax break to the top 1% of earners. It is the wrong issue by 2 to 1 and it will eventually bite him in the butt. “He talks a lot about shared sacrifice. But then there’s that top 1 percent that’s not going to sacrifice, and they’re the ones who can afford it. I think he’s 1,000 percent wrong on this.”

Tom Moran, the author of the piece, says, "The governor is channeling his patron, George W. Bush, or maybe his hero, Ronald Reagan. He sees lower taxes on the rich as the key to economic recovery. And he promises to veto any attempt to extend last year’s income-tax surcharge on the state’s wealthiest families, those earning over $400,000."

Moran adds, "Christie and the Democrats are on a collision course over this year’s budget that could lead to a shutdown in state government on July 1."

News Updates as of 18 April 2010

  • Bass fishing continues to be great in the Raritan Bay and along the Bayshore from the Amboys to Union Beach, including the shores at Cliffwood Beach and Keyport, per APP.
  • The Matawan-Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce is working on its new web design. Much nicer look than the old design. It is still in beta but looks to be almost ready for prime time. Problems include the fact that the beta Business Directory has no active links, while the old Business Directory linked you to websites and email addresses of members.
  • Alyssa Johnson and Marissa Gross of the Huskies Girls Track Team topped the field in discus at the Blue Devil Relays on Saturday. APP identified them as the only local winners at the meet. They were also among those listed in a rundown of events and teams at Weights and Measures.The Huskies came in second place in pole vault and third in javelin but struggled in the other events.
  • Bayshore Community Hospital hosts seminars and training events open to the public, some free and others with a fee involved. Upcoming events include seminars on dealing with cholesterol, dieting, smoking, mammograms, and the effects of cancer treatment. There are also Supersitter courses for budding babysitters, AARP driver training for seniors, and CPR and ACLS  training events all coming up in May.

Library Trustees Slower Than Molasses in January

Yet another week has passed without the Matawan-Aberdeen Public Library's elevator being fixed. Back in early March, the library's board of trustees defended what by then had been a 4-month process. They claimed it was reasonable to handle one aspect of a complex issue at each of their last three monthly meetings. They were proceeding methodically and happened to be prepared at the March meeting to accept a bid and get the repairs contracted and completed in the next week or so. But things haven't gone as planned and the handicapped and elderly still can't get off the main level.  I guess whatever went wrong was reported to the April meeting and whatever is still going wrong will be reported to the meeting in early May.

My office once long ago planned to have an office built into the back of a copier room. They needed to bring in a series of separate contractors to do the framing, electricity, wallboard, painting, and someone to hang the office door. Somehow the framers installed the door frame on the wrong end of the wall. Unfortunately, nobody noticed the error until after the electrical work, wallboard, and painting had been completed. Apparently the door hanger noticed the error and pointed it out. So they had to send the door hanger away and get someone to come and remove the wallboard so the electrician could remove the wiring so the framer could come back and fix the error. And then the process began again. Each step in the process was a separate visit, so the process took months and months to complete. But even that job was done faster than this elevator repair.

Shame on the trustees for not moving expeditiously to repair the elevator. They have the power of two municipal governments at their disposal and yet they can't get an elevator fixed in less than six months?

County Road Developments - A Reprise

APP just published its article about Monday's Aberdeen Township Council meeting, which apparently will decide the fate of RCM's two development projects. I appreciate that the APP article points out the community's concern about the municipality's lack of openness on this issue, but I'm concerned that they missed the all important Planning Board meeting set for the same evening an hour earlier. Without that meeting, the Council can't move this along. And moving it along, by hook or by crook, seems to be their intention.

What do we know about the developer of Renaissance at Aberdeen and the land's previous owners?

RCM Group was founded by Rick Cifelli of 14 Industrial Drive in Cliffwood Beach on 23 April 2004, according to Meetings Director. Aberdeener says RCM stands for Rick Cifelli Management. 14 Industrial Drive is the address of Cifelli Development and Construction, a company which does between $2.5 million and $5 million in business annually. Cifelli Development is associated with a John Cifelli.

The deed transferring the Route 34 development project property from RCM Group to C & M Real Estate on 9 October 2009 identifies managing members of RCM Group as Carmine Spinella and Matthew Clemente. Carmine Spinella lives at 73 Conover Road in Colts Neck, the address of C & M Real Estate as provided on the deed. There is a Matthew F Clemente also in Colts Neck, but I can't say he is identical with the RCM Group manager. C and M could be Carmine and Matthew. Could it be that simple?

RCM Group bought Block 196 Lot 27 and Block 228 Lots 1 and 2, located on the north side of County Road in Cliffwood, from Salem Place Corporation in May 2004 at a cost of $1 million.

The President of Salem Place Corp is Joseph J Lombardo, who owns Rosangela Contracting Co Inc, 450 County Road. His company does major contract construction at the county, state, and federal level between the Amboys and Atlantic City. Lombardo has bought and sold a number of properties in the 400 block of County Road since 1999. His most successful seems to be 403 County Road, a commercial site worth about $2.7 million.

The value of the development property seems to have skyrocketed after the NJ DEP granted Salem Place Corp a Freshwater Wetlands Transition Area Waiver (TA Waiver) , not so coincidentally the same month that RCM bought the property. The TA Waiver was no doubt granted because the neighboring land was rated light industrial. Environmentalists would quickly tell you that heavy residential use increases the likelihood of lawn care contaminants, oil spillage, eColi, etc getting into nearby Whale Creek.

Salem Place Corp initially wanted to build warehouses on the property. As of 18 March 2003, Aberdeen Township had a Developers Agreement with Salem Place Corp to do $1.35 million worth of site development at the Cliffwood blocks and lots in question. This work was based on Application SP 01-103 prepared by Robert J Templin, PE, LS, Bridgewater, NJ 08807 dated 17 Feb 2001 and revised 14 Mar 2002. The agreement was signed by Joseph J Lombardo, President of Salem Place Corp; Norman B Kauff, Atty for the Township; and David G Sobel, Mayor of Aberdeen Township.

SP 01-103 was memorialized on 18 August 2001 by the Aberdeen Township Planning Board, moved by Mr Axelrod and seconded by Ms Gumbs, approved by all seven members and signed by Secretary Maxine Rescorl. The agreement stated that the developer planned to construct a building with 35,840 sq ft of warehouse and a 15,360 sq ft office, plus a second building with 17,167 sq ft of warehouse and 7,358 sq ft of office space. The property would have 184 parking spaces. A 100 foot buffer would be left between the property and neighboring residences. The agreement was subject to CAPRA approval and NJ DEP issuance of a stream encroachment permit. Storm drainage into Whale Creek was to be dealt with via a water retention basin.

Salem Place Corp bought Block 228 Lot 1 from Contract Carrier Corp and Block 228 Lot 2 and 196 Lot 27 from Joseph C Cassini, II, married and Ann M Cassini, widow, on 27 May 1999.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Matawan-Aberdeen Schools Budget Vote Will Tell Us Nothing

This Tuesday's school budget vote isn't any sort of a clear referendum. If you are opposed to the Governor's cuts in state aid to education, do you vote down the school budget to demonstrate your concern about the resultant loss of teachers and programs? If you are in favor of tax cuts, do you vote down the school budget to demonstrate your concern about increased local property taxes resulting from state aid cuts? If you read the ballot you received in the mail, you might oppose the school budget simply because it warns you that "[y]our school district has proposed programs and services in addition to the core curriculum content standards adopted by the State Board of Education." Who is likely to vote in favor of the school budget this year? Practically no one. Who will claim the vote is a referendum for their cause? Practically everyone.

The importance of education should not be in doubt. In "The Good Society: The Humane Agenda," John Kenneth Galbraith cites multiple reasons for supporting quality education. An economist, Galbraith points out that education's value is not just about economics. "[Education] has a larger political and social role, a yet deeper justification in itself." Here are his reasons:
  • Education "has a bearing on the social peace and tranquility; it is education that provides the hope and the reality of escape from the lower, less-favored social and economic strata to those above. ... Social decency and political stability require ... that there be a recognized and effective chance for upward movement, escape from the lower levels to the higher. If this does not exist, there is the certainty of social discontent, even the possibility of violent revolt." (pp 69-70)
  • Education produces "a knowledgable electorate intelligently abreast of [the] issues and decisions" who would otherwise have to rely on the best judgement of their "state and its bureaucracy." They could also "surrender to the voices of ignorance and error. . . . [I]t is known that a certain percentage of the population is available to support virtually any form of political and social disaster. It is education almost alone that keeps this minority to a manageable number." (p 71)
  • "Education is ... for the enlargement and the enjoyment of life. It is education that opens the window for the individual on the pleasures of language, literature, art, music, the diversities and idiosyncracies of the world scene. The well-educated over the years and centuries have never doubted their superior reward; it is greater educational opportunity that makes general and widespread this reward."
In the end, Galbraith strongly advocates for financing public education. "There is no test of the good society so clear, so decisive, as its willingness to tax - to forgo private income, expenditure and the expensively cultivated superfluities of private consumption - in order to develop and sustain a strong education system for all its citizens. The economic rewards of so doing are not in doubt. Nor the political gains. But the true reward is in the larger, deeper, better life for everyone that only education provides."

Governor Christie has set the stage for decay, social upheaval, and violence in our streets by slashing state aid to education. Your vote for or against the school budget next week will not remedy his irresponsible governance one way or another. Instead, you need to let your municipal leaders know that they can stop using the well-being of the taxpayer as their litmus test to decision making and start considering first how best to nurture and perpetuate the good society they are overseeing on our behalf. Perhaps your vote for school board members who are more focused on quality education than controlling property taxes would be a good first step.

Matawan Man Becomes Hero on Staten Island

Andrew Camputaro, of Ravine Drive in Matawan, pulled a man from a burning SUV on Wednesday, according to SILive. The really amazing part is that Camputaro was driving a NYC Transit bus on a regular route through Staten Island when he noticed a nearby vehicular accident with smoke and sparks developing into a fire. He safely parked his vehicle and calmly conducted the rescue. See The NY Daily News and countless other outlets for additional coverage of this event.

Speaking of burning vehicles, I spoke with one of the first responders who dealt with the Old Bridge driver whose vehicle flipped and caught fire on Route 34 in Matawan on Monday. There was apparently no opportunity for heroics in this case. The first responder clarified for me that the car had hit the curb near Monroe when it began to flip down the side of the road until it slammed into the brick signpost at Peter's Fishery. The story goes that the Toyota was traveling quite fast and would have ended up crashing into the restaurant were it not for the signage. The first responder suggested that it was another one of those stuck Toyota accelerators, but it was unclear whether that was opinion or fact. Check out the photo of the wreckage at APP.

Friday, April 16, 2010

News Updates as of 16 April 2010

  • Robert Hayes of Perth Amboy, already detained on obstruction charges, has now been formally charged with last week's rape and murder of Petra Rohrbaugh, among other charges. Read more in the Asbury Park Press or My Central Jersey.com.
  • A Laurence Harbor man allegedly drove his Toyota  into oncoming traffic, ran into a curb, and flipped his car on Route 34 in Matawan on Monday afternoon, according to APP. His car burst into flames, causing the man to suffer severe burns.
  • Per The Independent, local environmental groups will be hosting an event to help clean up a freshwater tributary of Whale Creek in Cliffwood Beach on 1 May from 10 am to noon. Volunteers with proper gear (see article for details) will meet at the pumping station at the corner of North Concourse and Greenwood Avenue.
  • William Vogt, once the owner of a Matawan liquor store, has died at the age of 87 in Short Hills, NJ, per North Jersey.com.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

MOU Between Township and Developers?

Just came across this COAH Agenda dated 10 March 2010 suggesting that the State negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Township and the developers involved in the two local projects:

Motion on Behalf of C&M Real Estate, LLC & RCM Group, LLC (Collectively RCM) Regarding Aberdeen Township’s Refusal to Abide by Terms of an Executed MOU Resulting From COAH Mediation – Aberdeen Township/Monmouth County

Route 35, Whale Creek Flooding, and the Cheesequake Creek Drawbridge

Someone mentioned to me last night that renovations are planned for June 2010 to the section of Route 35 between Aberdeen and Laurence Harbor. That's the section of Route 35 that is routinely flooded by Whale Creek.I've not been able to confirm this, but I did find the following reports. Since these projects were planned during the previous governor's administration, and the current governor is wielding a sharp ax on budgets, the improvements detailed below may or may not ever occur. Just fyi.

The Independent reported on 8 October 2009 that the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) was planning to "rehabilitate, widen, replace culvert, and make safety improvements at four intersections along Route 35 from Greenwood Drive to Prospect Avenue in Aberdeen and Old Bridge." They are talking about Project 177A, which is expected to cost a total of $27.762 million when completed in FY 2013. The project can be found on page 22 of Monmouth Projects. The map on the NJTPA website shows Project 177A running roughly from just south of Laurence Harbor Parkway to the Matawan Creek bridge just north of Main Street in Matawan.

The project description shows that the 2010 phase of the project involves only acquisition of right of way ($2 million) for the widening of the road. Construction ($13.86 million) isn't scheduled until FY 2013.

The project was explained in more detail in FY 2006 projects. Here's the gist:

The existing roadway will be reconstructed from Matawan Creek to south of Laurence Harbor Parkway to improve safety and traffic flow. Improvements will include: reprofile Route 35 to bring the roadway elevation above the 25-year storm level; widening the roadway to bring the existing lanes and shoulders to standard widths; providing additional turning lanes, signalization, signing and pedestrian facilities at four intersections within the project limits. This project will be bicycle/pedestrian compatible.

This project is funded under the provisions of Section 13 of P.L. 1995, c.108. Total right of way cost is $13,300,000.

Further north on Route 35, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJ DOT) expected to repair the severely deteriorating Cheesequake Creek Drawbridge as part of a ten year statewide improvements program. The project would cost $34 million and the first of several contracts was to be granted in FY 2012.  Here's a link to the project as initially proposed, as well as a section of text explaining the project:

A design and construction contract is required to repair and slow the rate of deterioration to this structure. Several elements of this bridge exhibit severe deterioration and if no significant repairs are initiated, the useful service lift of this structure will be compromised. Since the complete replacement of this structure is considered unfundable, it is recommended that this rehabilitation effort be undertaken. The rehabilitation design may likely result in more than one construction contract; however, at this time, only one construction project is shown.

This project is multi-year funded under the provisions of Section 13 of P.L. 1995, c.108. Total construction funding needed is expected to be $34,000,000.

Planning Board Agenda Omits Blocks and Lots

The agenda for the special meeting of the Aberdeen Township Planning Board set for 19 April at 6 pm has been hurriedly published tonight after a rowdy Zoning Board meeting earlier this evening. You'd hardly notice what they plan to accomplish at this special meeting regarding the previously thwarted Cliffwood and Route 34 development projects if you didn't have a scorecard.

Where are the block and lot numbers, the mentions of County Road and Route 34, and the titles of the projects? How can anyone tie these mundane-sounding matters to the dreadful projects we all despise without someone pointing them out? I guess that's the whole point.

Be sure to attend the meetings on Monday.

Petra Rohrbaugh Is Remembered Fondly by Friends in Maryland

Explore Harford provides a few more details on the Cliffwood Beach woman who was allegedly murdered in her home last week. My Central Jersey.com gives an update after a week of quiet investigation by police.

Stealthy Aberdeen Twp Ordinance No 11-2010 Would Let RCM Bypass Zoning Board

There is truly no end to the shenanigans the current Aberdeen Township Council and Planning Board will engage in to push low income housing on the dear residents of Cliffwood. The Renaissance at Aberdeen may have seemed a vanquished project when the Zoning Board announced tonight its receipt of a 14 April letter from RCM officially withdrawing its application for a variance on County Road Block 196.04 Lot 27 and Block 228 Lots 1 and 2. But unbeknownst to the Zoning Board, that letter was mere theatre, sleight of hand, an illusion. But the leaders of the Cliffwood Homeowners Association weren't to be fooled. Kudos to them for their dogged pursuit of the truth on this issue.

If things go as "planned", those same blocks and lots on County Road are destined to be in the hands of RCM by early next week. On Monday evening, the Township Council and Planning Board will be voting on Ordinance No 11-2010 (see below), which creates a dedicated zone for these specific blocks to suit RCM's building plans. This stealthy piece of local law was somehow presented and approved for first reading at the 6 April Council meeting. The ordinance was conveniently left off the published agenda and the minutes of that meeting have not yet been published. I spoke to one person in attendance who took copious notes at the meeting and refuses to believe this ordinance was discussed and voted on without him/her noticing.

To add to the drama, the Planning Board has agreed to a special session to review the ordinance for conformity with the Master Plan, a necessary step, on Monday evening 19 April at 6 pm, just prior to the Council meeting scheduled that evening at 7 pm. RCM's new application for construction of low income housing on County Road will then go directly to the Planning Board, as it was explained this evening at the Zoning Board meeting, bypassing the less agreeable Zoning Board completely.

I should point out that the Village at Aberdeen project on Route 34 would also be rezoned as part of this ordinance. Block 114 Lot 4 would be getting this dedicated Inclusionary Housing Overlay Zone (IH) status along with the Cliffwood properties.

BTW: Since fewer people are reading newspapers these days, maybe the Township should be posting its required public notices online as well as in the classified ads? Oddly enough, the government is able to avoid Sunshine by publishing their notices in the paper.

Here's a copy of the public notice, which was only available in a cached version of the APP Classifieds online.

TOWNSHIP OF ABERDEEN ABERDEEN TOWNSHIP ORDINANCE NO. 11-2010 PUBLIC NOTICE NOTICE OF PENDING ORDINANCE AND SUMMARY The ordinance, the summary of terms of which are included herein, was introduced and passed upon first reading at a Regular Meeting of the Township Council in the Township of Aberdeen, in the County of Monmouth, State of New Jersey, on April 6, 2010. It will be further considered for final passage, after public hearing thereon, at a Regular Meeting of the Township Council to be held at the Township's Municipal Building, One Aberdeen Square, Aberdeen, on April 19, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. During the week prior to and up to and including the date of such meeting, copies of the full ordinance will be available at no cost and during regular business hours, at the Office of the Township Clerk for members of the general public who shall request the same.

The summary of such ordinance is as follows:


Purpose: This Ordinance amends the General Ordinances, Land Development Ordinances of the Township of Aberdeen to provide for revisions to the Zoning Districts and Zoning Map and to create a new "IH" Inclusionary Housing Overlay Zone adding Lot 27 in Block 196.04 and Lots 1 and 2 in Block 228 and Lot 4 in Block 114..

This Ordinance shall take effect at the time and in the manner provide by law.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NYT Poll Shows Confusion in Tea Party Ranks Over Entitlements

The New York Times just conducted a poll on Tea Party supporters and found most of them hungry for smaller government no matter what the cost. After all, the White House and Congress have run amok with spending on domestic programs, so Tea Party supporters want severe cuts in entitlements. Well, so long as those cuts are focused on the entitlements of people less fortunate than them. There shouldn't be cuts in government entitlements due to the middle class and rich folks. They deserve their entitlements, while poorer people don't. Poor people's entitlements are socialist, while middle and upper class people get patriotic benefits of some sort. Yeah, that's it.

This seemed like a contradiction to one Tea Partier interviewed in a follow up by the NYT. “That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.” If she lived in New Jersey, she'd already understand the concept of losing things she needs because someone wants her to have a new, dimmer perspective on life.

That woman might want to watch The Daily Show and become better informed. I mean, you can't find a better reporter on this nonsense than Jon Stewart, who has been lampooning the Tea Party movement and its incestuous relationship with Fox News since last year's Tempest in a Tea Party. Most recently Stewart exposed the bigotry of Tea Party members in a bit called Clash of the Teatans.

Zoning Board to Review COAH Plans, Cliffwood Homeowners Association Plans to have a Word

The Aberdeen Zoning Board is having a meeting this evening at city hall at 7:30 pm. The public are invited to attend.

The APP reports that the Cliffwood Homeowners Association plans to show up and resume their protest of RCM's 132-unit COAH development.

Since the last Town Council workshop on 6 April seemed to show that the council was willing to vote that same area into reserved open lands, the issue could be moot. At that meeting, the council members spoke of putting designated lands from the inlet at Whale Creek all the way up to land near Wilson Avenue (much of which are wetlands or woods) into a trust, and then seeking immunity from the burden of the COAH requirement.

Park Place Diner Has Reopened

Park Place Diner opened on Monday after months of renovations. The place looks wonderful and the carrot cake is delightful!

No Primary in June For Monmouth Freeholders, Borough Council

Robert Clifton of Matawan and his fellow Republican and Democratic candidates for Monmouth County Freeholder won't have to endure a primary race this year as each party has two candidates for the two slots, according to APP. Likewise the Matawan Borough Council candidates are unopposed: Linda Clifton and Donna Gould are the Republican candidates; Kevin Mendes and Bud Mullaney are the Dems. The primary election would have been 8 June.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NJ Today Article Publishes Misleading Article re OB CB Murder

I'm not quite sure why NJ Today decided to publish an article under the misleading title Perth Amboy Man Charged in Connection with Old Bridge Homicide. It only reiterates what we already knew about Mr Hayes being held for obstruction of justice last week. He's not been charged in connection with a murder, based on their own reporting, so why say so? This article is not helpful to a community hungry for answers.

Just Another Day At the Mall in Italy

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Making Grandma Wendy's Chocolate Chip Cookies


Stop for Pedestrians - New NJ State Law as of 1 April 2010

The NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety wants you to know that as of 1 April 2010 drivers must stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.

MOTORISTS in New Jersey MUST stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. Failure to observe the law may subject you to one or more of the following:
  • 2 POINTS
  • $200 FINE (plus court costs)
Driver to stop for pedestrian: exceptions, violations. penalties.

A. The driver of a vehicle must stop and stay stopped for a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except at crosswalks when the movement of traffic is being regulated by police officers or traffic control signals, or where otherwise prohibited by municipal, county, or State regulation, and except where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided, but no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield. Nothing contained herein shall relieve a pedestrian from using due care for his safety.

Whenever any vehicle is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

B. A person violating this section shall, upon conviction thereof, pay a fine to be imposed by the court in the amount of $200. The court may also impose a term of community service not to exceed 15 days.

C. Of each fine imposed and collected pursuant to subsection B. of the section, $100 shall be forwarded to the State Treasurer who shall annually deposit the moneys into the “Pedestrian Safety Enforcement and Education Fund” created by section 1 of PL 2005, c 84 (C.39:4-36.2)

PEDESTRIANS MUST obey pedestrian signals and use crosswalks at signalized intersections. Both carry a $54.00 fine for failure to observe the law.
(C.39:4-32 and 33)

One Day in the Life of NJ Libraries

MAMS Photograph

I took this photograph of Matawan Aberdeen Middle School (MAMS) this afternoon.

Library Trustees Struggle Unsuccessfully to Fix Elevator

The Board of Trustees of the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library may be in violation of Title II and/or Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act because they have not expeditiously repaired a long-broken handicapped access elevator. The issue remains unresolved after at least four months of monthly wranglings over cost, options, purchase orders, contractors, etc, etc. The project moves forward inches after each monthly meeting. Shame on the board for not meeting in extraordinary sessions until this matter is resolved.

2010 MAMS Musical - Anything Goes

Matawan Aberdeen Middle School (MAMS) will be presenting its 2010 spring musical Anything Goes in a couple of weeks. Tickets are $8.00 and must be purchased in advance. This Cole Porter musical debuted on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre in 1934 and featured the title song as well as You're the Top and I Get a Kick Out of You.

Below is Cary Grant singing You're The Top with Ginny Simms in the 1946 story of Cole Porter called Night and Day.

The Bulkhead Bar & Grill, Keyport

Nothing can beat lunch on a warm spring or summer day on the back deck of the Bulkhead Bar & Grill at 59 W Front Street in Keyport. The view is quite remarkable (see pictures below) and the atmosphere is classic Bayshore waterfront. Enjoy a burger, a sandwich, or a salad along with a soda or bottled beer from a lofty spot overlooking Keyport Harbor and nearby Cliffwood Beach. Watch the boats come and go, the seagulls swooping and the tourists enjoying a walk or a park bench. Don't let the dreary West Front Street entrance to this place fool you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

CB OB Woman Raped, Murdered, Set on Fire in Her Bed

UPDATED: Investigation continues into the recent rape and murder of Petra Rohrbaugh, a 52 year old woman who lived in a house at 18 Hilltop Boulevard in the Cliffwood Beach section of Old Bridge, NJ. According to reports in NJ.com and APP, Rohrbaugh was raised in Germany and came to the US with a man from the US Air Force. They had two children and had then separated. Rohrbaugh moved to this area to be near her daughter -- a nurse living near OB -- and a grandchild. Her son still lives in Germany. Rohrbaugh gave local piano lessons and played organ for St Mark's Episcopal Church in Keansburg.  She had planned to move to Keansburg in a few months to be closer to the church.

Neighbors seemed to suspect a friend of a contractor working on the house next door, according to CBS. No one has been charged with the murder, but an ex-con from Perth Amboy is being held by police for interfering with the investigation.

No School Librarians AND Bookless Libraries?? Wow. . .

I've been told that the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District plans to run our school libraries along the lines of the Raritan High School media center in Hazlet. As I understand it, Raritan got rid of all of its printed media -- books, magazines, etc. And since there is nothing to check out, the administration felt there was no need for a librarian. The kids use a bank of computers to conduct database searches and are supervised by teachers on their planning periods.

Syracuse University suggests that bookless libraries are becoming all the rage as the technology of the book is being replaced by the computer. And the futurist Thomas Frey has all sorts of thoughts about how the future of books is limited. But in an NPR piece called If a Library is Bookless, What's in It?, the director of access and technology services for the Denver Public Library System says that books are used regularly by her library patrons as the library adopts new technology. And the director of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, also interviewed by NPR, says that his new modern library had 100,000 visitors in its first three months alone, adding that most checked out printed media as they took advantage of the nifty cultural environment.

As for my opinion on all of this: I just finished a master's thesis last spring at a college with a fancy library and my thesis still required extensive library research using actual books, so I'm not at all convinced that libraries are ready to become bookless. I feel it is an absurd notion to leave students without a school librarian. Teachers on their planning periods are certainly no substitute for a professional research specialist. The idea that librarians only manage book collections and can therefore be disposed of is ridiculous. And, finally, the person who was making our public library into a cultural mecca is gone. Just check out the library's empty calendar for June for a taste of what's to come.