As a courtesy to our SHPOA Members, we’re bringing you a summary of each Stone Harbor Work Session and Council Meeting. Intended as summaries, these intentionally don’t have a lot of details and are not a substitute for the official Borough minutes.
Applying for grants, work to begin at 80th Street pump station, sewer collapse
Borough Engineer Marc DeBlasio reported on three items:
•Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure legislation, entities can apply for low-interest loans and grants for water improvement and sanitary sewer projects. After consulting with the Council’s Utility Committee, Mr. DeBlasio will begin the process to apply for drinking water and sewer improvement grants.
•Work will begin at the 80th Street Pump Station to get it ready to switch from chlorine gas to chlorine tablets. The tablet replacement will be done at the 96th Street Station as well.
•There was a sewer collapse on 3rd Avenue between 103rd and 104th Street. The Borough will repair this on an emergency basis, bypassing the normally lengthy construction procurement procedures.
Elevations for new buildings
Ray Poudrier, Construction Official of the Borough, described new regulations being considered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to address rising sea levels and chronic flooding. These regulations — part of a larger environmental program called NJ PACT (Protecting Against Climate Threats) — would require that all new buildings must be elevated at five feet above the current levels. His office is investigating Stone Harbor’s compliance obligations if the regulations should be issued.
A new law addressing lead-based paint requires that municipalities maintain local agencies to inspect structures (including single-family homes) and enforce compliance with laws. More information will be coming from DEP soon.
Payment plans for water bills
Tax Collector Deborah Candelore described a new program establishing payment plans for people delinquent in their water bills. The Borough will offer a 12-month installment plan to pay off arrearages accrued between March 2020 and March 2022. A monthly rate will be established for each participant and the property owner must make timely payments on the arrearage as well as the current charges.
Proposed changes to trash collection discussed, utility reports
Council President Reese Moore presented for discussion the proposed changes to solid waste trash collection, including:
•Tippers would be purchased for each trash truck (at a cost of $120,000 to $185,000, already budgeted) that would lift the trash cans and empty them into the trucks. This would allow for larger cans and would decrease injury to the trash collectors. A contract would be awarded on May 3 and it would take 6-8 weeks for installation.
•Standardizing trash can size to 64 gallons (31.8” long x 24.25” wide x 41.75” high), equipped with wheels and a bar that allows the can to be tipped into the truck. The Borough would provide a list of retailers where homeowners can purchase the cans. Required compliance is set for May 1, 2023.
•A “Convenience Trash Collection Center” would be established at the Marina where people can drop off trash seven days per week. This is expected to be operational within the next four weeks.
•A solid waste employee Incentive Program will be established to encourage the workers to finish their routes correctly and in a timely fashion.
•The Public Works Solid Waste Ordinance would be updated to address these changes and changes regarding the placement of trash cans at the house: they must be on the property in a place most convenient for collection, 60 feet from the curb, and providing a smooth, unobstructed pathway.
Councilmember Bunny Parzych reported that water usage was 760,000 gallons less in March than in February.
Regarding electricity: smart meters will be installed in Stone Harbor within the next year. They will detect disruptions in service without residents having to report them.
The streetlights are out at the 300 block of 96th Street. An electrical engineer recommended that a contractor be engaged to fix the problem, perhaps on an emergency basis.
The Flood Mitigation and Storm Sewer Master Plan was presented by Marc DeBlasio and Cody Stanford of DeBlasio Associates. After a thorough investigation of the flooding, beach erosion, and associated problems in Stone Harbor, the Master Plan was developed to assess the aggressive measures needed to manage infrastructure and mitigate flood damage. It was peer-reviewed by Stockton University professionals, the Wetlands Institute, and SHPOA representatives.
The purpose of the Plan is to educate; present options; make recommendations; prioritize capital improvement projects; comply with FEMA’s Community Rating Service (CRS) Program; and participate and coordinate with federal, state, county, and local entities.
Intending to cover the next 25 years, it is a multi-tiered, multi-pronged approach. There are three priority improvement levels: Priority I (Year 0-10), Priority II (Year 10-20), and Priority III (Year 20-25).
The Borough is already working on some of the projects. Priority I Improvements are:
•Repair or replacement of Borough-owned bulkheads
•Beach outfall elimination
•93rd Street Storm Sewer Pump Station
•Investment in permeable pavement
•Replacement of privately-owned bulkheads
•Elevate private property and roadways
•Advance flood warning signs and siren upgrades
•Bayside tide control (96th Street North)
•83rd Street Storm Sewer Pump Station
•Yearly storm sewer improvements
The presentation will be posted on the Stone Harbor website. For now, it can be viewed as part of the Council meeting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqx-asM4CLU) beginning at the 1:06:50 mark.
During Public Comment, Sister Mary Ellen Kennedy and Kathy Ward, attorney for the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary expressed frustration with delays by the Borough regarding permits, applications, and communication. Other commenters expressed concern with the trash proposal, urging adoption of the Flood Management Plan, and questioning contracts let by the Borough.
A number of resolutions were approved, including contracts for summer activities, the appointment of Special Law Enforcement Officers to the Police Department, awarding a contract to Richard Graver ($18,144) as the Borough’s information technology professional, awarding a contract for professional labor relations counsel to the law firm of Blaney, Donohue, and Weinberg ($140/hour), naming May as Bag Up NJ Month, granting the Tax Collector the discretion to offer 12-month payment plans for delinquent water bills (as discussed in the Work Session), and naming Jenny Olson as Interim Recreation Director.