Freeholders Rankled By Newspaper's Criticisms
Kelly, Vicari say claims they have done nothing are baseless
The Ocean County Board of Freeholders reviewed plans on Wednesday to seek bids for retrofitting two more stormwater basins in the county, during the bimonthly preboard meeting in Toms River.
The two basins -- one along Vermont Avenue in Toms River, the other at the intersection of North County Line Road and Jackson Mills Road in Jackson -- are the newest in a series of basin retrofit projects the county has done to help create a filtration system that lessens the impact of rainwater runoff on Barnegat Bay.
The county is estimating the retrofits will cost $1 million, with the county splitting the cost with the state Department of Environmental Protection, county engineer Frank Scarantino said.
Citing the stormwater basin projects as just one example, Freeholder John P. Kelly took the opportunity to blast a newspaper editorial over its criticisms of the board.
"How dare they say we don't care about Ocean County?" Kelly said. "We were one of the first counties to build these basins, to protect Barnegat Bay.
The editorial, which appeared in Sunday's Asbury Park Press, endorsed Democrats Joseph Grisanti and Pat Barndt in Tuesday's election for two freeholder positions, currently held by John C. Bartlett and Director Gerry P. Little.
"How dare they say we don't do enough to fight for Ocean County?" Kelly said. "Where are they when we are meeting with the commissioners, pushing for widening of Route 9?"
Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari said there have been active efforts to block any attempt by Ocean County to get funding directed to the widening of Route 9 by the state Department of Transportation, which has responsibility for the road.
Kelly said that during a conversation with one commissioner, he learned that commissioner was under the impression the county wanted Route 9 widened to three lanes in each direction.
"He was surprised to find out it was only one lane each way," Kelly said.
Little said that while the county's road crews clean stormbasins throughout the county each year, storm drains along the state highways through the county -- Routes 9, 70, 37 and 35 -- go untouched, resulting in flooding during heavy storms and sending pollutants into Barnegat Bay.
"There seems to be a confusion between what's the county's responsibility and what's the state's responsibility," Vicari said.
"The state should be doing more," Kelly said.
"Maybe if newspapers disappeared our recycling crews would have time to do other things," Freeholder James Lacey said, half-joking.