MIDDLETOWN, NJ - Middletown residents got a chance to celebrate the “Mayors for a Day” program with the Middletown Township Committee, as well ask questions about the Indian Terrace road paving project, during the committee’s May 20th meeting.
The “Mayors for a Day” program is an annual event in which several children from throughout Middletown Schools get to be nominated as honorary Mayors of their schools for one day.
This year, five elementary school students in Middletown received the honor. Their names were Ryan, Rory, Cecilia, Rich, and Christian – and they were from Lincroft, Leonardo, Village, Bayview, and New Monmouth elementary schools, respectively.
As part of the program, each honorary Mayor presents a certificate they sign to his/her school’s principal, as well as gets a chance to talk to, ask questions, and even give some suggestions, to the official Mayor.
“Probably the most fun we could have at a township committee meeting, is getting to sit with our young Mayors,” Mayor Perry said. “We talked about quite a bit. Mayor Rory come with some ideas about how we can improve crosswalks, (but they) all came with some great questions.”
After the “Mayors for a Day” ceremony ended, Mayor Perry then mentioned that the New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), a transportation planning agency, gave Middletown Township a $1 million grant to improve the walkability of the neighborhood around River Plaza Elementary School by adding sidewalks and other walkways leading up to the school.
In addition, Mayor Perry announced that a final 30-year fixed interest rate has been agreed upon in financing the new municipal complex the township plans to build.
“It’s no secret that the township has been working on a new municipal complex, we have worked for this for some time now,” Mayor Perry said. “I’m happy to say that we have locked our rate on the new municipal complex at 4.1 percent, so exactly one percentage point lower than (we first) anticipated.”
The new municipal complex is a public-private partnership between the township and the Brandywine Acquisitions & Development firm, in which the firm rather than the township borrows money to finance construction, and recoups the costs from the township through a 30-year lease agreement, after which the township will become the outright owner of the complex.
Afterwards, several residents of the Indian Terrace neighborhood, an area located at the Southern end of Hartshorne Woods Park in Middletown’s Atlantic Highlands section, asked the township committee when the roads there will be paved, as the current road conditions are affecting the neighborhood’s quality of life.
One such resident was Marie Russo, who said she had several complaints about some of the road conditions in her Indian Terrace neighborhood, as well as how the lack of a drainage system to channel storm-water causes it to build up near her house.
“Because of this, my property doesn’t have a curb, so therefore people park in my lawn,” Russo said. “Instead of looking better, it’s getting worse. I’m not very happy about that.”
Mayor Perry tried to reassure Russo that the Indian Terrace problems will soon be taken care of, as the township has already set aside money specifically for that reason.
“The one thing that I’ll say is the township, given the fact that this body has moved to place capital dollars to fix this issue speaks to the intent of this governing body to fix this area.
When another area resident, Tom Gaffney, asked the Township Committee about when the Indian Terrace road paving project will be completed once construction begins; Township Engineer Ted Maloney said the construction phase should take about 60-90 days, and that the project should be fully finished by the end of September.
Middletown resident Tony Parsons, also a neighborhood resident, talked about how the neighborhood is becoming a less attractive place to live because of the road conditions.
“Our car shocks are going every couple of months, and,” Parsons said. “We have houses on the market, and that’s a deterrent because who would want to drive up this road and be bounced around Indian Terrace.”
Mayor Perry said he fully understood the frustration of the neighborhood residents, and that he’s committed to making sure this gets resolved.
“That’s why we placed this on our small capital budget,” he said. “We have now set aside funding for this very project.”
After residents finished speaking about the Indian Terrace project, Middletown resident John Spinelli asked about possible community beach clean-ups in some of Middletown’s beaches – to which Mayor Perry said these events are normally organized by neighborhood groups, but that he would try to connect Spinelli with some of these groups.
“I think it’s a worthwhile cause,” Perry said.
Spinelli also wondered about whether the Blue Acres program, a state-run program that buys out certain properties to help preserve environmentally sensitive areas, could be used to buy out a property for sale in Leonardo Beach.
Perry said that such a plan may or may not be doable, but that the township would make the effort to involve the program.
“We’ll take a look at the lot to see if it’s possible,” Mayor Perry said.