MIDDLETOWN, NJ -Middletown community members expressed their views about a proposed pipeline construction project through Raritan Bay, as well as about a resolution about sanctuary cities, at the Middletown Township Committee’s April 15th meeting.
The meeting began with two proclamations, one for Municipal Clerks week that runs from May 5 to 11, and the other for Police Week that runs from May 12 to 18.
Mayor Anthony Perry made some remarks about the two proclamations in which he thanked both the clerks and the police department for their contributions to Middletown.
“I can’t tell you how often it is, the day in and day out ability to bring in folks and get them what they need and help them get through their day,” Perry said of the clerks. “The township committee and I are fortunate to have such wonderful people to help lead this town.”
Perry also said the work of Middletown’s police helps make Middletown one of New Jersey’s safest places to live. “The work our out police department is bar none. The men and women of our police department deserve our greatest thank you.”
Afterward, committee members made their remarks about recent community functions they attended.
Among them was Committeewoman Pat Snell, who reflected on a West Side Story play production she attended at Middletown High School South on April 11th. “I was amazed at the amount of talent,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned, the student performances could have been done at Broadway, it was that good.”
Committee member Rick Hibell then talked about a tribute event he attended honoring Kenneth Tietjen, a Middletown resident who worked as a Port Authority police officer that was among the first responders killed by the 9/11 attacks. “Over 500 people attended the event,” Hibell said. “Kevin was a great volunteer and Middletown resident.” “There wasn’t a dry eye in the entire house when the Port Authority bag pipers started playing,” Mayor Perry added.
Fiore and Perry then gave their thoughts on the proposed pipeline construction project across Raritan Bay, officially known as the Williams-NESE (NorthEast Supply Enhancement) pipeline, which aims to supply natural gas for New York State and the surrounding region, and is supposed to run from West to East through the middle of Raritan Bay. “To be frank, I don’t see an inherent benefit of the pipeline the residents of Monmouth County or the residents of Middletown,” Fiore said. “This project provides zero benefit to the people of not only Middletown, but the local community of the Bayshore,” Perry said. “I’m not willing to risk the beauty of the Bayshore for somebody in New York State to get their natural gas. That does not sit well with me.”
During the meeting’s public comment portion, one of the Middletown residents who voiced their opinions about the pipeline was Pat Miller, who said that Middletown should be a leader in helping build an energy future free of fossil fuels, and work toward helping make New Jersey a 100 percent renewable energy state, as well as a net zero fossil fuel emissions state, by 2050.
“Raise your hands if you support green energy,” Miller said.
Middletown resident Lisa Cordova, a member of Clean Ocean Action (a local environmental organization that opposes the pipeline), said that she has collected more than 900 signatures as of the meeting day to oppose the pipeline, and also expressed gratitude to the Township Committee for their support of Clean Ocean Action’s fight against the pipeline. “I’d like to thank all of you for opposing the William NESE Pipeline,” she said. “I applaud you for standing with several neighboring towns.”
Middletown Resident Sue Ellen Fairback encouraged all Middletown Community members to write to the governor through his official portal to oppose the pipeline. “It’s exquisitely easy to write to the governor,” Fairbank said. “You don’t have to take out pen and paper – you just go on his website, and make sure to get your point across.”
Cyndi Zipp, Clean Ocean Action’s Executive Director, said the pipeline threatens not only the environment, but also livelihoods of many people throughout the Bayshore region – and urged Middletown residents to petition the governors of New Jersey and New York to block the pipeline. “We’re outraged by the plan to split the Raritan Bay in half with the pipeline,” Zipp said. “There are only two people who can stop this. Governor Cuomo (of New York) Murphy (of New Jersey). We must send a strong message to the governor.”
In addition, there was also some discussion about a resolution Middletown adopted opposing a sanctuary city policy, meaning that Middletown will not actively seek to block the handing over of immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally into federal custody for possible deportation, especially if they are suspected of criminal activity.
Rev. Virginia Ernst, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Lincroft, said she opposes the resolution because it makes it harder for immigrant communities to feel welcome and safe.
“The rising tide of harassment against immigrants is unworthy of a nation of immigrants, and this Middletown community,” she said.
Committee member Anthony Fiore said the resolution was more about upholding federal law than about immigration. “This is not Middletown saying we are anti-immigrant,” he said. “We’re saying we’re not providing safe harbor to illegal immigrants who partake in criminal activity.”
Rev. Joseph Ines of Westminster Presbyterian Church, located in Middletown’s Tindall Road, spoke in favor of the resolution, saying he interprets his faith to allow the government to set rules on who can be let into the U.S. “The state properly places first the welfare of its citizens,” he said.