The 2019 municipal budget in Barnegat Light was introduced April 10 and contains a one-penny increase. The general budget totals $3,460,951.
No comment came with the introduction by borough council, but the one-penny hike was confirmed after the meeting.
The public hearing, with second reading, is scheduled for the next monthly council meeting at 5 p.m. May 8.
Just about every other discussion was a preview of actions to come, such as the announcement by Councilwoman Mary Ellen Foley that the borough in the near future will be renegotiating agreements for cell phone antennas on the water tower.
A design for bathroom construction at the new Bay Breeze Park is not decided upon, but would not be built until fall anyway.
But two people in the audience asked about separation of male and female facilities.
“We’re still deciding whether it will be a trailer, a big building or a little building,” said Mayor Kirk Larson.
John Tennyson, of 22nd Street, said, “For the record, I would love to see, and to be recognized for your consideration, a men’s room and a ladies room. You can put it on a slab, you can elevate it, you an do anything you want with it, but you should have the resolution read rest rooms,” he said, emphasizing the “s” at the end. Tennyson is past president of the Barnegat Light Taxpayers Association, but he was speaking for himself.
Up to $150,000 is being appropriated for the cost, but the borough may not use that whole amount, council members had said.
Over-pumping flooded back yards was another non-typical topic at the meeting. No new rule was set, but officials will research existing borough codes from Barnegat Light and other towns.
The problem stems from a rainy year, and runs amok from there.
“Last year was the most rain that New Jersey has ever had since 1885,” Larson said.
“People were pumping their yards out to the street, digging 3-foot-deep PVC pits in their backyard, putting pumps in and running it right out into the street. It goes in front of somebody else’s house and turns into a muddy mess with green slime in it and everything else.
“If I were the owner of a $500,000 house or a million-dollar house on that street and somebody did it next to me,” the mayor continued, “I would look for Mr. Brady or one of his friends,” referring to the borough attorney. “We really should get a handle on this.”
Councilman Michael Spark noted that there are streets such as 25th where natural percolation is seeping out of what used to be a swamp, but that is not the same problem.
“There’s a lady who pumps it because her yard is underwater. But when she or he is pumping from 2 feet down, that’s a different story,” Spark said.
“If you’re going to pump off surface water, that’s fine … my point is, if they’re doing it professionally,” answered the mayor, “and putting a pump in there with an automatic flow switch on it … and in one case, why were they pumping all winter? They aren’t even here.”
A letter from a property owner partly prompted the discussion. Larson added that the deep pumping method “is not a permitted use” on the books.
The varying ages of properties in town is one consideration that brings drainage to a head.
“A lot of towns are really young; our town is really old. The older houses were already built, and the grade changed when the new people came in and filled up their lot,” noted the mayor.
People have brought in as much as 18 inches of fill to raise their backyard to try and alleviate drainage issues, sometimes in turn causing runoff to neighbors’ yards, pointed out Foley.
At the end of the talk, Councilman Ed Wellington suggested, “before we jump through a lot of hoops here, you’re right, we’ve had more rain the past year and it has been a problem for everybody.”
“I’m not looking to make an ordinance tonight. Maybe it won’t rain all summer,” said Larson.
Park Yoga Will Be Free
“For the last month, we’ve been getting ready for the summer,” Wellington updated in the committee reports.
“We have all the boat slips at the dock ready to go. The bathroom down there is open. This week the guys assembled the two new pickleball court nets (on West 10th Street), and we’ve been doing the normal maintenance. So if you want to play pickleball, come on out.”
Earlier this spring, some yoga enthusiasts wanted to know when private yoga teachers could hold classes at the new pavilion on the bayside. Council members debated legalities and decided on a program run by the borough.
The borough will pay several instructors
“We’re going to hire them as vendors,” said Wellington, the same way bands are hired for the borough concert series.
The outdoor yoga sessions on Tuesday mornings will be free.
“They would be paid a salary for running the class. And if people wanted to donate a couple bucks as a gratuity they could do that, but for our purposes, it’s a free yoga session,” said Wellington.
“Why don’t we just try it this way this year,” said Larson, half joking that “if 300 people show up, we’ve got a problem.”
“If it works out, there’s nothing to say that in the middle of the summer, we couldn’t add another day,” added Wellington.
Council members congratulated Councilman Frank Mikuletzky for being recognized by the Barnegat Light Volunteer Fire Co. for 61 years of service and resident Warren Fox for 50 years of service.
— Maria Scandale