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.
SHPOA Vice President Jack Kelleher presented the Bike Safety Sign project for Borough Council consideration. Prior to his presentation at this work session, Jack met with the Borough Public Safety Committee to review the project in detail.
Jack advised 8”x30” signs would be placed just below the existing bike lane signage, on both sides of Second Avenue. Each sign will carry one of twelve short and clear safety messages. These messages, which were vetted by the Public Safety Committee, are sourced from nationally recognized bike and auto transportation authorities. The signs will be the same color and font as existing bike signage.
1Wear a Helmet
2Light your bike
3Ride with traffic
4See and be seen
5Lock your bike
6Obey all traffic laws
7Pass on the left
8Signal when turning
9Stay alert for opening car doors
10Wear Bright Clothing
11Yield to pedestrians
12Ride in Single file
Borough Council members voiced support and agreement for the project and advised SHPOA that this project is right on target with Council’s vision to increase public awareness concerning bike safety.
Borough engineer, Mike DiBlasio, updated Council on the lifeguard station; noting the building project is on budget and on target for completion by the second week of June. He is working with the builder to enable access beginning Memorial Day for certain activities; including the sale of beach tags.
Chief Roger Stanford said department activity has increased in 2022; with 65 fire calls YTD vs. 30 in 2021. Emergency services (“EMS”) activity has remained steady with 12 calls this year and last year.
Chief Thomas Schutta said the department is interviewing to fill two open officer positions. The Borough is scheduling interviews for a Sargent position, approved in the 2022 budget.
All Municipal Court sessions are being held remotely, with plans to continue this practice for the immediate future.
Applications for lifeguards and beach taggers are now online at the Borough website.
Recreation & Tourism
The Director of Recreation, Tina Prickett, reviewed plans for upgrades to Stone Harbor’s playgrounds. Recreation staff is exploring upgrading playground area surfaces from mulch to synthetic coverings that can be more effectively cleaned and have better drainage. New playground equipment is also under consideration as well as placing equipment in clearly defined “age-appropriate” sections separated by the swing sets which are appropriate for all ages. Seating areas can also be positioned so parents can keep a watchful eye on both play areas.
The Chamber of Commerce is planning its “Spring into Summer” event Saturday, April 30th which will feature music and vendors at the Tower parking area between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Borough will also host a Farmers Market on Sundays at the Tower between Labor and Memorial Day.
Stone Harbor’s newly hired beach consultant, Doug Gaffney, presented his initial findings and activities regarding his assignment to assist the Borough in assessing beach conditions and inclusion in future beach nourishment projects. Doug has extensive education and experience in applied ocean science, and he has also worked for the Borough in the past on one of the first large beach fill projects. In February, Doug and Borough Manager Robert Smith walked the Stone Harbor beaches to get a first-hand look at current conditions. Doug identified five problem areas, based on his initial evaluation:
•Lack of dry beach in certain sections of the beach; including the area between 103rd – 111th Streets
•Lack of beach width between the dunes and water’s edge. While ample recreational beach width beyond the dunes does not concern the Army Corp, the desire for space for recreation is important for our owners and visitors. Lack of beach width also leads to dune instability which is of concern to the Army Corps
•Sea levels since the beach fill project in 1997 have increased five inches in this area based upon a comparison of the beach profiles between the two periods. That amount of sea-level rise equates to roughly 14 feet of beach and berm. This may create the opportunity to review and adjust the beach profile to reflect the change in sea level conditions
•The current lack of a sand “borrow” source for beach fill projects in the southern part of Seven Mile island presents a key obstacle for the inclusion of Stone Harbor in the planned Army Corps large beach fill project currently being scheduled for late 2023. Doug met the Corps to review Stone Harbor issues and advised Borough Council that the ACE understands our issues, and they plan to look for alternative borrow sites for sand once they receive an approved budget for the Seven Mile Island project.
•Stone Harbor’s beach “groins” (the timber and stone jetties) were built in the 1960s, and unfortunately have fallen into disrepair. As a result, the groins no longer are doing what they were designed for which is to capture and retain sand
Doug advised Borough Council he will begin to work on plan development and work closely with Robert Smith going forward.
Council President Reese Moore advised the Council that work is underway to modernize Borough trash/recycling collection equipment and procedures. The Public Works committee and staff are exploring the addition of trash collection “tippers” to be added to both sides of trash and recycling collection vehicles. These tippers will enable trash cans to be lifted and unloaded automatically instead of the manual lift and empty process now used by borough employees. The tipper equipment, which is in use by most municipalities, is faster, safer, and less manpower intensive. Once outfitted with tippers, the process will require new trash containers with a bar across the back. The Public Works Committee projects the cost of tipper equipment and trash/recycling cans to be approximately $550,000. During Council Q&A, it was suggested that the project would move to a pilot or test program before full implementation.
The Committee also is exploring outsourcing solutions for trash/recycling collection and plans to issue requests for proposals (“RFPs”) in the next few weeks to private waste management companies.
Mayer Judy Davies-Dunhour recognized Public Works Director Russ Grant, who is retiring after a 34-year career with Stone Harbor’s public works department.
SHPOA president Rich Fuchs spoke to Council regarding the 2022 Budget about to be approved. He spoke positively about the increase in the beach and bay fund to the 2020 level, adding that more funding would be needed to cover the cost of required maintenance. Rich made the following points:
•SHPOA has historically engaged in providing observations on annual budgets. SHPOA notes that the budget includes no property tax increases for 2022. While taxpayers would generally applaud such an outcome, there are some points to note in the overall budget.
•Operating expenditures continue to climb in Stone Harbor. In 2022, operating expenditures increased by 4.4%, with salaries and benefits being the driver with a 4.9% overall increase. The budget does not appear to address cost management or cost savings issues. The budget was
instead managed by deferral of expenditures for capital and maintenance, which will not disappear but instead will be required to be financed in future years. This will require taxes to finance the expenditures in those future years.
•The budget focus appears to be on the current year only and does not address the future challenges facing Stone Harbor related to sustainability investments such as flood management, beach and bay maintenance. These are significant and, as Mayor Davies-Dunhour stated in her remarks at the opening of Council in January, will require some tough choices by the Borough. We do not yet see these tough choices being made.
•A member of Council voted to approve the 2021 budget subject to the agreement to develop a 10-year financial plan for the Borough before the 2022 budget is approved. The same Council member had a list of other requirements, all of which were agreed at the time the 2021 budget was approved. We would ask Council to report to the public on the progress against these requirements.
Several resolutions were moved including:
1. Approval of the 2022 Stone Harbor Budget
2. Approval of authority to exceed the Municipal Budget appropriations limit; and the final appropriations shall be increased by 3.5%, amounting to $417,595.
3. Approval of the First Reading of changes to the Outdoor Dining Ordinance which, in this new version, limits the width of outdoor dining tables, caps the number of outdoor diners at six and requires outdoor equipment to be stowed (after hours) out of the way of pedestrians
4. Approval of First Reading of the Smart Irrigation Systems Ordinance which requires for existing systems:
– Irrigation will be allowed on even-numbered days for properties with an even number address, while odd-numbered addresses will be allowed to water on odd number days
– Grass, trees, and landscape beds located between the curb and sidewalk may be watered by systems using drip or “trickle” irrigation only
– Irrigation starts April 1 and ends no later than November 16. Watering is limited to once per day, from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m., for no longer than 30 minutes per zone within each system
– Flower boxes may be watered daily for no more than 10 minutes
– New landscape installations may be irrigated on an increased basis during the first 21 days
– There is no regulation or restriction to “hand watering”
1. Approval to reimburse certain surety monies for street openings
2. Authorizing the schedule and fees for the Farmers Market
3. Authorizing engineering services for the completion of design work for stormwater outflow at 96th St.
4. Approval of seasonal wage rates for beach patrol, beach taggers, police, recreation, and public works employees
For documents referenced in this meeting, please click here: https://stoneharbornj.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/March-15-2022.pdf