MIDDLETOWN, NJ: Middletown residents, especially those from the Lincroft area, got to have a taste of some of Middletown Township local government’s inner working at the “mobile town hall” event held at the Lincroft fire station, located at 601 Newman Springs Road, on Feb 20th.
During the “mobile town hall” event, various departments and agencies of Middletown Township local government gave information to local residents about some of their main functions, services, and purposes - as well as displayed visual aids and informational brochures that helped explain the services they offer, in a somewhat similar format to that of a job or career fair.
Among the departments and agencies which showed up at the event were the Middletown Township Library, the municipal courts, the police and EMS departments, as well as the Health & Human Services department and the Animal Control department. Also among those who showed up were the Lincroft Women’s Auxiliary Group (which is also open to male members), the Middletown Township Planning Board, and the Monmouth County Administration Department.
Also at the event were Mayor Anthony “Tony” Perry, Township Administrator Anthony “Tony” Mercantante, Township Committeewoman Patricia “Pat” Snell, and Committeeman Rick Hibell. During the event, Mayor Perry and other township leaders and department/agency representatives answered questions residents had about issues or topics they brought up at the event.
Mayor Perry said the event served as a one-stop shopping like opportunity for residents to get various services that they needed.
“It’s difficult for people who work (during the daytime) to visit town hall during normal business hours, so this is an opportunity for people to register for our recreation events, apply for a passport, volunteer for our fire department, and speak with police officers,” Mayor Perry said.
Mayor Perry also said that it was a chance for local residents to meet one-on-one with some of the town’s leadership in an informal setting; and that in turn helps local government engage itself more with the grassroots community.
“This is an opportunity for members of the community to talk to the town leaders and ask questions and make suggestions,” he said. “I promised when I was first sworn in as Mayor that I would make Middletown more accessible, and this was one of the ideas (on how to work toward that goal).”
Mayor Perry said events like these were important in order for local residents to develop a strong sense of trust in the local government of the township.
“The township should make itself as accessible as possible to the public as soon as possible,” he said. “My hope is that is the people of Middletown find out all that Middletown has to offer – and to make them feel like they’re a part of the process of local government.”
Last but not least, Mayor Perry said that what makes these events worthwhile was the ability to help people address their concerns about certain issues facing their local neighborhoods through such events.
“If just one person walked away with an answer to their question, or being able to have a township committee member hear about their perspective on an issue, then this event is a success,” he said.
Teri O’Connor, the Monmouth County Administrator, said her department was pleasantly surprised to be invited to this event, and that this type of experience was new to the department.
“The county is happy to be included in this unique event,” O’Connor said. “It give us an opportunity to speak to local people in their neighborhoods. This is the first time we participated, so we really didn’t know what to expect – (and) we were open to speak to people about issues that impact them in their neighborhood.”
Melanie Elmiger, President of the Lincroft Village Green Association, said she came to this event to give her perspective on what she and her fellow neighborhood association wanted for the betterment of the Lincroft downtown and Village green neighborhood areas.
“There’s always improvements that we want to make that we (and the township) work together on,” she said.
Elmiger also said she like the formatting of events like these. “It’s a friendly, welcoming event – and it helps you learn about all the services that are available (locally). Also, it’s nice that elected officials are approachable and want to work with the community to improve things. They did a very good job advertising it.”
One of the features of the “mobile town hall” that particularly stood out was the Women’s Auxilary group for the Lincroft Fire Company (meaning the firefighters of the Lincroft fire station). Joyce Hatter, a member of the Auxilary group, said the purpose of them being there was to advertise & announce a series of fundraisers to help support the Lincroft firefighters, and well as to recruit additional members for the group.
“We’re here to encourage support for the firefighters in any way can,” Hatter said. “We’re also here to let the town know about us and what we do.”
Kerri Doherty, the group’s President, said that the morale of the Lincroft is one of the group’s key goals, which they often try to maintain by providing supplies for them, supplement their budget through fundraisers, and giving them refreshments once they return from putting out fires.
“We do whatever we can to keep the morale up of the Lincroft Fire Company, and to be able to say thank-you in a hands-on way, and let them know we really appreciate them for giving up their time,” Doherty said. “When everybody else is running out of a burning building, they’re running in.”
Among the group’s fundraisers meant to support the firefighters include a “Canvas Painting Party” on Match 6th, and a “Fun Night at the FireHouse” game night on April 24th – with both of them which will take place at the Lincroft fire station. For more information on the Canvas Painting Party, please call Cathy Padilla at 732-272-5044; and for more information on the “Fun Night at the FireHouse”, please call Maria Dunn at 732-345-9525.