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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Council seeks $1M - Dissolves the LWQA

HAMMONTON—Hammonton Town Council opened the Jan. 22 meeting with a presentation that spoke to the “heart and soul” of Hammonton. A $100,000 grant served to inform Hammontonians of what they already know—Hammonton is a great place to live. Hammonton Heart and Soul was fortunate enough to receive a grant that allowed the organization to conduct research to develop the principles that define Hammonton. The presentation during the council meeting expounded on the data collected over months of research.

The council showed their appreciation in ordering a plaque with the 10 values Heart and Soul defined, a plaque that will be displayed in city hall. Heart and Soul will next begin a $50,000 fundraising campaign to continue their work and develop the Endowed Hammonton Community Foundation. If the funds are raised the organization could receive $50,000 in matching funds.

A rare dissention among the council members Monday night came in a resolution to essentially do away with the current Lake Water Quality Advisory Board (LWQA). In doing so, the council would move to add two members to parks and recreation who would take on the duties of the LWQA.

The move was made in two separate motions. The first to disband the LWQA was passed on a five to two vote with Mayor Stephen DiDonato and Deputy Mayor Thomas Gribbin voting against the motion.

The second motion to add two members to parks and recreation then passed seven to zero. According to Councilman Jonathan Oliva, the commission will be expanding to take on additional lake water quality responsibilities. Town Solicitor, Michael Malinsky explained that the ordinance will expand the commission from seven members to nine, with two council members, seven residents and two alternates.

“We’ll be understanding that the thought process was taking two people currently in the [Lake Water] Quality Advisory Committee (LWQA) and over to the Board of Park Commissioners,” Malinsky said.

Both DiDonato and Gribbin spoke with The Gazette on their decision to vote no on disbanding the LWQA Committee.

“I think the LWQA Committee needed some adjustments to their workmanship, membership and leadership, but it was worth giving them another year of trying to talk to them in regards to that, improving their workability and success,” DiDonato said.

“There are a number of dedicated residents that are concerned about the quality of the water of the lake, so I felt that it was still necessary to keep that committee,” Gribbin said.

During the Public Works Manager report, Robert Vettese spoke on the lake levels at Hammonton Lake. Vettese said that the lake levels must start coming back up on Feb. 12 and must be to full levels by March 1.

The public works schedule for February are as follows: bulky waste pickup is from Feb. 5 to Feb. 9; brush pickup is from Feb. 12 to Feb. 16; county recycling is from Feb. 5 to Feb. 9 and Feb. 19 to Feb. 23; trash pickup is Feb. 12.

Town Clerk Frank Zuber spoke on the town clerk’s report. The town is hiring a communications manager. Those interested can apply on the town’s website.

The Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel procession, carnival and fireworks are scheduled from July 14 to 20, with the procession being on July 16. The fireworks will be on July 16, with no rain date scheduled.

Zuber spoke on the Green Acres Grant in which the town is applying. Zuber said that the town is looking to get one million dollars, with $250,000 in grant money and a low interest loan. The application is due on Feb. 7 and once completed, there is a questionnaire on the website for the public to fill out as the town is looking for community input.

Town Engineer Mark Herrmann explained the scope of the plan, beyond improving the 11th Street hockey rink.

“It would be improving the entrance and access, because it’s a difficult entrance, so we would improve that,” Herrmann said. “Improve the parking area, provide dedicated parking, include ADA (American Disabilities Act) parking as well. Possibly a storage shed-type facility to store your electric stuff, mechanical room to help support the lighting and scoreboard and any water. Whatever stormwater management that we need to do, with the blessing of the [New Jersey] Pinelands [Commission] would be included as well.”

Hammonton Police Chief Kevin Friel gave a presentation to swear in a new officer to the Hammonton Police Department (HPD), Leslie Sabatini. Sabatini is a graduate of the Cape May Police Academy as of Jan. 12, and is a part of the HPD’s alternate hiring, as he was hired as a temporary officer.

Mohammed Fuad/THG New Hammonton Police Officer Leslie Sabatini (second from left) was sworn in during the meeting on Jan. 22. He is pictured with Hammonton Police Chief Kevin Friel; his dad, Ray Jacobs; his mom, Mary Jacobs and his sister, Madison Jacobs.

In other business, Gribbin said that the construction for the new Harbor Freight Tools building is underway and should be expected to open soon. For the business and industry committee, Councilman John Oliva said that the Hammonton Planning Board will be holding a special meeting on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. in town hall and open to the public. The Planning Board will be committed to working through the master planning process and have established a number of special meetings where they will be only addressing the master plan. No applications will be heard as it will be an opportunity for the board to work together and make modifications, according to Oliva.

For the quality-of-life report, Council member Renee Rodio announced that the committees have appointed their chairpersons. In addition, she said that the Community and Lake Clean Up is scheduled for March 2 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The next Hammonton town council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at 100 Central Avenue, Town Hall.


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