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Early Jan. Utilities Meeting Expected to Shed Light on Ortley Repopulation Schedule

Residents cannot return to Ortley Beach homes without utilities certifications, according to township

Last week, officials announced that unrestricted access to barrier island neighborhoods will resume on Jan. 7, with one exception — Ortley Beach. 

The section of Toms River was badly battered by Sandy; roads and utilities in the area remain unrepaired. Township officials expect to have a better idea of when residents can repopulate the area following a meeting with utility companies scheduled for Jan. 4. 

William Kuzbyt, a 9th Avenue resident, told the Township Council this week that he is one of the fortunate few on his street whose house is habitable. He wants to return home. 

"We're not getting any definitive information as to what's going on with the utilities," he said. "We're paying mortgages, we're paying taxes. So what are we supposed to do?"

Before Toms River can allow repopulation of that barrier island community, officials must certify with the county and governor's office that utilities are available, said township Business Administrator Paul Shives. 

Holiday Road resident Pete Suriani wanted to know if the township had developed "a concrete plan" to get residents back to their homes. 

"What's the timeframe?," he said. "It's now eight weeks."

"Next week we hope to have a schedule and say, 'here's what we're doing,'" Shives said. That information — what Shives called the "definitive dates" — would then be posted to the township website. 

Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher said last week that Ortley is not included in the repopulation plan because some streets are still non-existent or covered with sand, and utilities — including natural gas meters and water mains — are still not repaired in some areas of the neighborhood.

Shives said that the township has been working "hand-in-hand" with JCP&L to set up meters in the north beaches before moving south. 

"The idea is once that site is complete we're going to move on to Ortley," he said. 

Sewers in the area are functioning on generator power — which is acceptable, according to Shives — but potable water quality remains in question. Utility poles in the area were toppled and must be replaced through a JCP&L reconstruction plan. The township is also working on plans to rebuild roads washed away in the storm, which will be completed once underground utility work is done. 

So far, Shives said that JCP&L has been "very good" working with township and officials are in regular contact with gas, water and sewage utilities. 

Suriani requested that once officials meet with utility representatives, extra help — like that seen in the immediate aftermath of Sandy — is brought in to assist getting Ortley reopened as quickly as possible. 

"We need that kind of expedited support and urgency," he said. 

grace December 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM
chief mastro will be new sheriff in town then it will be his job til he dies...and so on
grace December 29, 2012 at 10:19 PM
maybe she was making pizza
Candice December 31, 2012 at 05:48 PM
that town council meeting was a joke...still no answers just excuses and pawning off responsibility on everyone else...it's clear that ortley is their last priority....and they can spend 100000 dollars on brand new trucks because their other ones have "outlived their usefulness"...I think the council members have outlived their usefulness can we get new ones of them too? what are their trucks 5 years old? I wish I could buy a new vehicle everytime I have to fix mine...what priorities they have...I see plenty of towns using 99 single cab pickups for parks department and whatnot...maybe if they stopped getting all these pretty new trucks that we pay for they'd have more money for things the town truly needs...and I love the part about asking Santa for more money...what a joke...I think everyone in ortley should be at that meeting on the fourth
Mark December 31, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Does anyone have details of that January 4th meeting with the utilities? Are they required to make it an open meeting under Jersey Law?
Kimbo Sliceopizza December 31, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I know it's the holidays, but the last few days there has been absolutely zero activity by utilities or the township in Ortley. The trash trucks sit idle, no power, water or gas trucks at all, meanwhile Lavallette & Seaside are getting back to normal & we haven't begun. Better start calling Christie, Runyan and the media.

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