MANCHESTER – There was a slight delay due to a serious crash that blocked Route 37 and caused a few detours, but this year’s township reorganization meeting packed the court room chambers of Town Hall.
“The state of our Township is strong, and the future is bright,” Mayor Robert Hudak said. He was sworn into office surrounded by family members.
Councilwoman Michele Zolezi took her oath of office in the company of her family immediately afterward.
Both oaths were administered by the Manchester Township Judge Daniel F. Sahin, in front of family, friends, township employees, and dignitaries from the county and state.
Those dignitaries included 4th District Congressman Chris Smith, 10th District Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin and Ocean County Commissioners Virginia Haines and Gary Quinn.
Councilwoman Joan Brush who served as vice council president last year took the gavel as council president this year. This means she sets the agenda and runs the meetings. Councilwoman Zolezi will serve as council vice president.
Hudak was first unanimously appointed by the Township Council to fill the shoes of Kenneth Palmer, who resigned to become a judge. Hudak followed through and won the November election. Palmer’s unexpired term finishes at the end of the year, so Hudak would have to run for mayor in back to back years.
Zolezi was unanimously appointed last July to the Township Council to fill Hudak’s council spot. Her term runs through 2024.
Hudak said, “it was an honor and privilege to be sworn in again today, with my family by my side, as the mayor of Manchester Township alongside Councilwoman Zolezi. I look forward to working with our council to keep Manchester’s open space appeal, promote small business growth, revitalize our Whiting section of town, and continue being responsible stewards of your hard-earned tax dollars.”
The mayor said he and the Township Council were prepared for a productive year in 2022.
As part of his agenda for the new year he announced the creation of the Manchester Township Economic Development Advisory Board. Its formation had been discussed last year and was approved by resolution by the Council.
The new board will provide the governing body with input and recommendations on topics surrounding the future economic development of the Township. Members will include four residents, and one member each from the Council, Planning Board, and Zoning Board.
Mayor Hudak outlined several other projects for 2022 including the completion of the water tower, which will result in the easing of water restrictions this summer; the completion of the extensive renovation project of Bowker field in Whiting and finalizing of plans to have the Whiting cell phone tower project completed this year.
Other plans include continued improvements to both township and volunteer emergency services; the capping of the Whiting landfill at no cost to residents and the creation of a solar field on that land; addressing flooding issues throughout Manchester including Pine Lake Park; to reinvigorate Whiting by promoting small business growth as well as expanding retail in Whiting Commons Plaza and developing a five-year road paving plan.
The mayor stressed the importance of preserving open space and battling against overdevelopment as one of his top priorities.
In line with this and recently announced at a prior council meeting, Manchester is partnering with the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund to purchase the Surf & Stream campground located off County Road 571. This property was slated to be developed into 245 apartment units and will instead be preserved as a passive recreational area for residents to enjoy scenic trails along the Union Branch of the Toms River Creek.
Council President Brush congratulated Hudak and Zolezi on their election. “I look forward to working with Mayor Hudak and I’m sure he will move the Township in the right direction.”
The meeting included the appointment of Manchester Township’s professional services and establishment of meeting dates for the year. Information about Manchester’s Township Council, its members, meeting agendas, and minutes can be found at ManchesterTwp.com/town-council.