My name is Bill Neyenhouse. I am a Republican and longtime resident of Barnegat. I served on the Barnegat Township Committee from 1988 to 1994 and spent two years as mayor.
Like our country, Barnegat has become far too partisan. Under Republican rule, we have seen public input diminish. Back in the “good old days” we had two evening meetings per month and a workshop meeting during the day. We now have only one Township Committee meeting per month. Additionally, every other month, the meeting is during the work day, making it impossible for many of our working residents to attend. This has created a system where many issues are dealt with behind closed doors.
The recent “bait and switch” regarding the proposed senior development at the 140 acre former Shoreline Sand and Gravel on the south side of West Bay Avenue is a sad example of this. The developer, Christopher S. Vernon is the owner of Mercer Management and Development and stated that “I love doing things differently, and this is a great challenge, and this site lends itself to a unique type of community”.
Vernon's original proposal was for a lifestyle community with a mix of housing types from cottages to condos, an assisted living facility and nursing home. It would have included a community garden, an indoor pool, as well as a stocked pond for fishing, kayaking and canoeing and jogging paths. This proposal, the “bait”, received much publicity including various newspaper articles and even Vernon hosting a presentation at his Bonnet Island Estate in Manahawkin.
The “switch” took place with almost no notice, as then Mayor Al Billie, and the township committee quietly changed the redevelopment plan. The new project will consist of 777 manufactured homes squeezed onto the site and a clubhouse. The assisted living facility and nursing home ,which would have provided much needed jobs to our residents, have been eliminated from the plan . This is a package deal, which requires Vernon to purchase the former site of the Sweet Jenny's restaurant on South Main Street and construct over 100 units of new low- and moderate-income affordable family housing.
I have met Peg one-on-one, I have attended her Town Hall meetings, and I have read her vision statement. Peg has a plan to address the issues I have raised in this letter.
As I said, I am a Republican. Nevertheless, I am supporting Peg Houle for Barnegat Township Committee. Peg will give us our voice back and represent all the residents of Barnegat. Peg will fight to go back to two evening meetings per month and continue to hold Town Hall meetings to ensure that the voices of the people are heard.
I urge you to elect Peg Houle to the Barnegat Township Committee.
Bill Neyenhouse Former Barnegat Mayor