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  • Writer's pictureJoseph F. Berenato

Latest police promotions

Chief Friel: 1 new hire,

3 promotions announced


Hammonton Police Department

HAMMONTON—Hammonton Police Chief Kevin Friel announced one new hire and three promotions at the December 19 meeting of town council.


The new hire was David Diaz, whom Friel asked to hire as a full-time Class II officer.


“Mr. Diaz is a graduate of Hammonton High School. He is a local young man who has started his endeavor in law enforcement and would like to take root here at the Hammonton Police Department,” Friel said.


Friel then requested three promotions effective January 1, 2023: Det. David Reustle to the rank of sergeant, Cpl. Robert Zbikowski to the rank of sergeant and Sgt. Sean Grasso to the rank of lieutenant.


“This will help to get our supervision where it should be, as we’ve had some retirements; we’ve had some people leave. With us being shorthanded, now we can shift things; as we’re starting to gain some more officers, we’ll be able to get our supervision where it needs to be,” Friel said.


Mayor Stephen DiDonato asked Councilman William Olivo to make motions regarding the personnel matters.


“I’d like to make a motion that we promote Sgt. Sean Grasso to the lieutenant position for the town of Hammonton,” Olivo said.


Councilman Sam Rodio seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.


“I’d like to make a motion that we promote Det. David Reustle to the position of sergeant for the town of Hammonton,” Olivo said.


Councilman Jonathan Oliva seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.


“I’ll make the motion for Cpl. Robert Zbikowski to a position of sergeant for the town of Hammonton,” Olivo said.


Rodio seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.


Rodio said that three candidates were interviewed for the position of lieutenant, and five were interviewed for the rank of sergeant.


“Every one of them was a professional; every one of them interviewed second-to-none. It’s a shame you can only pick what you have to pick,” Rodio said.


Olivo spoke about the interview process with Diaz.


“He was in the military as well, correct? We did that as a Zoom interview, and he seems to be an outstanding find that the chief has found—as he always seems to do—and I think that’ll be a good find for us,” Olivo said.


Olivo then made a motion to hire Diaz as a Class II Officer at a rate of $20 per hour, effective December 22. Rodio seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.


The promoted officers are scheduled to be sworn into their positions on January 1, 2023.


A public swearing-in will be held during council’s reorganization meeting on January 3, 2023.


Also during his report, Friel spoke about alcohol consumption at town recreation facilities.


“I just want to remind everyone that, on municipal recreational property, you cannot have alcoholic beverages there. That was present as the Seventh Street rec field and is also periodically found at our Hammonton Lake Park. We do have officers patrolling through there, and if we do locate something, people can be cited for having a beverage there when they shouldn’t,” Friel said.


Friel also spoke about the number of driving while intoxicated (DWI) citations.


“We are bordering on 92 DWIs in our community for the year, so I just want to make sure that there aren’t any more before the end of the year. We only have a couple weeks left; let’s see if we can get through it without breaking 100,” Friel said.


Oliva inquired further about the number.


“Is that high in relation to past years? It sounds like a high number just in general,” Oliva said.

Friel said that the number is slightly elevated from 2021.


“The series of COVID-related years kind of diminished things down, so I’m hoping things don’t ramp up—but we have been assigning patrols, and I think that might be part of it, too: we’re locating a lot more of our DWIs throughout our community,” Friel said.


In other business, Town Engineer Mark Herrmann, of Adams, Rehmann and Heggan Associates (ARH), had four action items in his report.


The first item related to the work being done on School House Lane and Vine Street. Herrmann said that the majority of the work had been completed.


“All the concrete work has been done. The last remaining tasks are paving, general clean-up and there’ll be a punch list at the end,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann anticipated that the final paving of the road would be completed during the spring of 2023.

“The weather is not cooperating. It’s getting cold, and we’re looking at some snow and rain, so we’re going to miss this year, for sure,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann said that a change order for the project had been submitted in the amount of $38,350.20.


“This change order represents work that was done outside here on Vine Street, number one, to avoid the electric duct banks that we found after we opened the road, and also to provide some additional drainage infrastructure to feed the future parking lot next door—which was not part of the contract; the building wasn’t demoed yet when we went out to bid for School House Lane,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann said that, while the change order reflects an increase, the town will ultimately receive a credit.


“Part of the change on Vine Street with the drainage was removing some existing pipe we already put in and going with smaller, different materials, so we’ll get a credit during final quantities on some of the pipe,” Herrmann said.


The net impact of the change order, Herrmann said, would total approximately $17,000.

Councilman Steven Furgione asked for further details.


“What change order numbers do these encapsulate?” Furgione said.


Herrmann replied that they reflected change order items 17 and 18, and Furgione responded.

“I had 17 as $18,277.50,” Furgione said.


Herrmann said that number reflected the net impact to the contract.


“We saved, we estimated, about 120 linear feet of pipe and ended up being 103, so we ended up saving about $7,000 on there. The additional 103 feet of concrete pipe, at $200 a foot, will come off during final time of quantities,” Herrmann said.


The second item—Number 18—was $5,737.60, Furgione said.


“It enables us to tie into the storm drain on Vine with the new parking lot, as opposed to handling the stormwater on the parking lot; it would have cost us a fortune,” Furgione said.


That change in plans, Furgione said, was the idea of Public Works Manager Robert Vettese.

“It was a worthwhile endeavor,” Furgione said.


Herrmann asked council to approve the change order in the amount of $38,350.20. Furgione made the motion to approve the order; Rodio seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.


The second action item regarded the project at Hammonton Lake Park’s Capt. Gerard V. Palma Memorial Playground, which Herrmann said has been completed.


“We submitted Change Order 1, which is the final change order—which actually reflects a net decrease in the contract of $10,986,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann said that the town received a Small Cities grant for $400,000 for the project.


“The combination of the construction work plus the equipment that was purchased, everything came in under $400,000,” Herrmann said.


That, Herrmann said, leaves $23,456.63 of surplus funds from the grant. Herrmann said that he consulted with Triad Associates about how to spend the funds.


“With a simple scope change, we could leverage that money in certain ways. I suggested maybe we purchase amenities that maybe could be installed by public works—benches, or minor things like that. Rather than give the money back, I think it’s a good idea to use that,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann asked for council to approve the change order reflecting a net decrease of $10,986. Rodio made the motion, which Councilman Edward Wuillermin seconded. The motion passed unanimously.


Herrmann also proposed an action item for the former site of K&K Linens at 224 Vine St. Herrmann said that, as part of the original work, ARH developed a site plan for a parking lot which was approved by the Pinelands Commission. After the approval, Herrmann said that he and Vettese developed a different concept to double the amount of proposed parking spaces.


“This will provide 22 spaces. It’ll allow for the police officers to wrap around the building and come out safely,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann said that additional engineering services from ARH would cost $9,800 and asked for council’s approval.


Furgione made the motion to approve the cost, which Rodio seconded. Furgione commented further.


“We have money left over on the original grant from the state to do the demo, so we can fund this work through the money we saved,” Furgione said.


Councilman William Olivo inquired about the parking lot’s accessibility.


“Can you get into it from Vine Street, or do you have to go around the building?” Olivo said.

Herrmann said that the lot will be one way, exiting onto Vine Street.


The motion carried unanimously.


Herrmann’s final action item related to the proposed Boyer Avenue Pump Station.


“Last year, it went out to bid, but the bids were too high and it was rejected,” Herrmann said.


Since then, Herrmann said that he met with Furgione, Vettese and Municipal Utilities Superintendent Anthony DeCicco on multiple occasions.


“We’ve done some work, and we’ve made some design changes. There’s effort we have expended, and there’s a little more we need to do to get to a point where it can go out to bid,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann said that he submitted a proposal in the amount of $4,200 for both the completed and the projected work.


Furgione made a motion to accept the proposal, which Rodio seconded.


“We’re going to fund this out of O&E so we have money left over in the bond for the construction. We’ll manage the construction in-house once we get to a point where we can get it affordable enough to do it. These revisions are going to help us tighten this project up and get it out for bid,” Furgione said.


The motion carried unanimously.


During his report, Herrmann also gave an update on the road construction on Valley Avenue.


“We want to do the surface course before the winter; we’re actively monitoring. There is some work that needs to be done to prep the road; there’s some concrete that needs to be repaired and some other things,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann said that, at the time, work was scheduled to commence on December 21.


“We’re going to be in the mid-40s by afternoon. We’ll make a decision tomorrow,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann said that if work did not begin by December 21, it would have to wait until spring of 2023.


Furgione asked about the possibility of paving throughout the winter.


“Temperatures do moderate next week and into New Years. Is there a chance we could attack it then, or are we just done?” Furgione said.


Herrmann said that it was a “slim chance,” and DiDonato concurred.


“The plants are going to close down. They stop making top after this week,” DiDonato said.


Herrmann noted that there will be exposed concrete work and raised manhole covers on Valley Avenue. Rodio commented on how that might affect potential snowplowing.


“I guess we’ll just be as careful as possible if we get snow this winter. I understand what we’re doing, and they’ll try to protect it, but if there’s a chip here or a break-out there, you just can’t.

I mean, snow is snow; ice is ice. What it is is what it is. You can’t blame the highway department,” Rodio said.


DiDonato replied.


“We’re not getting a lot of snow this year. Don’t worry about a thing, Rodio. We’re going to get a couple of little nuisance snows; no major storm,” DiDonato said.


Rodio continued.


“I don’t want to see a flake, but I’m just throwing that out. This spring, we’ll deal with it again; that’s all we can do,” Rodio said.


On December 21, Herrmann spoke with The Gazette and said that the paving had been completed.


“Yesterday, we prepped the road; we repaired some base areas that needed to be repaired. We repaired some chipped concrete gutter. We started first thing this morning—about 9:30 a.m.—and we finished paving today, so Valley Avenue is paved from Broadway to Central, and the connectors at Forest Drive and Winding Way are paved, so it’s all paved as of today,” Herrmann said.


Herrmann’s report also contained the following information items:


• NJDOT FY2022 Municipal Aid: Old Forks Road: ARH is preparing the construction plans for the Old Forks Road project. They have sent our plan to the county engineer to coordinate the paving and utility construction at the intersection of Old Forks Road and Third Street, which the county anticipates paving in the Spring of 2023.


• Hammonton Bike Path Connector – Phase II: ARH is preparing the construction plans for the Bike Path project and has prepared and submitted legal descriptions for an access easement across the frontage of the Kathedral Event Center. ARH has also met with Vettese to discuss the design progression and the location of the proposed improvements.


• 11th Street Sidewalk Improvements: ARH has completed the preliminary design of the 11th Street Sidewalk project, which will need to be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) for approval and authorization to bid.


• Octagon Oil/Vine Street Parking Lot: The lab results have been received and reviewed by ARH, and the Remedial Action Permit (RAP) has been submitted to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).


• Mazza Muffler Site/104 S. Egg Harbor Road: Project plans and specifications for the demolition of the building have been completed. Confirmation of the grant funding in the amount of $151,160 has been received, and ARH will proceed with the public bidding of the project in January of 2023.


• Skinner Property/317 N. Egg Harbor Road: The town has been notified that they have received a $76,932 grant from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund for the remedial investigation of the Skinner property. ARH is preparing a scope of work for this project and will review with the town..


• Celona Site Remediation/130 Railroad Avenue: ARH completed the receptor evaluation at the site and completed the remedial investigation report.


• 2021/2022 Water Capital Projects: The Director of Public Works has been in contact with the property owners along Rt. 54, to obtain utility easements to allow the proposed water main to be relocated outside of the road. ARH has completed the field work and base maps and has prepared the legal descriptions and exhibits, and has been revising the plans and specifications for the relocation of the water main. ARH met with Vettese, Furgione and Wuillermin to finalize the design; they will be coordinating with Mr. Vettese and have begun to contact and meet with the property owners one more time to obtain signatures on the easement agreements. The limits of the South First Road project are being revisited, and the White Horse Pike/Seagrove Avenue portion of this project remains on hold.


• Water Quality Accountability Act Compliance: The NJDEP WQAA Capital Improvement Plan has been completed and submitted. The draft Asset Management Plan has been submitted to the Municipal Utilities Superintendent Anthony DeCicco for review. ARH is currently working on the water audit, and has completed and submitted the Lead Service Line Identification and Replacement Plan.


Vettese noted that Herrmann was instrumental in the town receiving recent grant money.

“We just got a notice from the DOT that one of the applications that was put forth by ARH—Safe Routes to Transit—was $325,000, which would allow us to construct a walkway or a bike path along the New Jersey Transit station location from Line Street to 11th Street—so that’ll allow another connection between downtown and the bike path and the continuation of that bike path,” Vettese said.


During his report, Vettese said well testing in the Lakeview Gardens section of Hammonton was scheduled for December 20.


“I think there’s five individual houses that took advantage of having the town’s lab do the test, and it’ll be a cost-savings to them,” Vettese said.


Vettese also addressed those residents in the area who have not yet had their wells tested for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).


“Please. It’s an important issue. Get those tests done so you can at least take everybody to a point that’s familiar with the project,” Vettese said.


Vettese said that a public information session on the topic was tentatively scheduled to be held during the council meeting on January 23, 2022.


Vettese also spoke about the lead and galvanized water service lateral inventory. He said that ARH has drafted a sample letter to be sent to residents.


“Most of the homes that are prior to 1986, there’s a letter that’s going to be sent out to them, asking them to inspect their pipe that comes into the house from the roadway and to the meter. This way, we can tell whether it’s galvanized, lead, copper, PVC—whatever it might be—and we’ll also give them contact information; if they can’t make that determination, they can contact someone from the utilities department to make that investigation,” Vettese said.


Also during his report, Vettese said that a meeting was held with school officials regarding stormwater recharge under the Safe Routes to Schools program.


“We wanted to get their initial thoughts on what was being proposed and what the options are, and what locations would be good—and what locations would not be satisfactory to them. The consultant has to go to Pinelands before he does any additional design. We’ll get the input and meet with Pinelands, and see if we can take advantage of some of the sections of the school without disturbing anything that’s at the school for future use,” Vettese said.

During the report from the Water and Sewer Committee, Furgione said that the garage door at the sewer plant was set to be installed during the week of December 19.


“This is the last item we need to prepare for the centrifuge, which is still scheduled for some time—I’m hoping—next month, next two months,” Furgione said.


Furgione also spoke about the trenches at Boyer Avenue.


“We’re still only filling two of the trenches; three are completely empty, other than ground water. The lagoon’s at five feet, so we’re holding firm over there,” Furgione said.


Furgione said that the installation of new drip irrigation has begun.


“The site had to be surveyed; there were some minor tweaks that were involved. Hopefully—weather pending—they’ll start laying pipe this week or next,” Furgione said.


The next regular meeting of town council will be January 23, 2023.

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