By Charles Layton
Candidates for county freeholder and one of the candidates for U.S. House of Representatives spoke before the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association on Saturday.
It was the first of two OGHOA candidate forums. The second will be held at the organization’s next meeting, on October 27; that one will feature candidates for Neptune Township Committee. These two forums are the best chances for most Ocean Grovers to get a close-up look at candidates and to ask them questions.
Although the incumbent from the fourth congressional district, U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, could not attend due to a conflict, his Democratic challenger, Brian Froelich, gave a speech of introduction and then took questions from the audience. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and his Republican opponent, Joe Kyrillos, had been invited, but neither came.
Freeholder candidate Serena DiMaso also did not appear, but the Republican county chairman, John Bennett, came and spoke in her behalf. Bennett was once, as president of the New Jersey State Senate, the highest-ranking GOP officeholder in the state. He lost his Senate seat in 2003.
Following the candidates forum, the HOA conducted several items of business.
- The president, Ann Horan, reported that there was still no action on negotiations over the North End Redevelopment project. The developers and Neptune Township are expected to begin negotiating the finer details of the plan at some point, but no one knows exactly when. The HOA has a standing committee charged with monitoring all aspects of that controversial project.
- The members heard a report on another controversial issue, the Broadway drainage project. The most recent news on that is that the Township has cleaned up the trash and debris along the median strip, which had been a sore point with residents. The contractor is expected to resume work this coming week on drainage structures at the Broadway/Beach Avenue intersection. Some of the HOA members complained that, as part of the drainage project, the number of handicapped crosswalks along Broadway has been reduced from nine to four. They were told that the state Department of Environmental Protection had dictated that reduction and the Township’s hands are tied.
- Horan said she had met recently with Ralph delCampo, the Camp Meeting Association’s interim chief administrator. She said she had suggested that the CMA send a representative to the Home Owners meetings to address members’ concerns, and that delCampo had told her the CMA would consider doing that. (No CMA representative was present at Saturday’s meeting, however.)
- It was reported that the HOA now has approximately 545 individual members from 390 Ocean Grove households. The organization currently has $6,968 in operating funds and $29,767 in its legal fund.