MANCHESTER – Township officials expressed their concerns about the township’s senior population’s ability to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I understand the Health departments are doing a very good job delivering the supply of vaccine available. I also understand they are planning to do the rollout of these micro clinics in all of the retirement communities,” Councilman Robert Hudak said.
“I hope we will see that in the very near future and I look forward to working with them on this program,” Hudak added.
Councilman James Vaccaro noted that coronavirus cases have substantially increased across the nation, “especially in New Jersey and in Ocean County and Manchester. I too have received many calls from many stressed residents who are seeking information about COVID-19 vaccinations and the lack of being able to get an appointment to get a vaccination.”
“Getting an appointment for the second shot is getting just as difficult as getting an appointment for the first vaccination. The COVID-19 issues and new strains are real, are dangerous and they are deadly,” Vaccaro added.
The councilman asked the mayor and council to explore providing COVID-19 location testing sites “to help identify those who test positive, expedite the start of the quarantine period and expediate treatment to those who need medical assistance.”
Councilman Vaccaro also expressed the need to establish a township vaccination site. “One in the east and one of the west of Manchester Township or one centralized site for all our seniors, veterans and residents.”
He also wanted to explore the idea of giving supplies at all drive thru COVID-19 test sites. “I know Holmdel Township has provided Holmdel seniors with a bag free of charge which contains a 10-95 mask, a face shield, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a COVID-19 information card.”
“We must do something to help and save our citizens and to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the new virus strains in Manchester Township,” he added. He urged residents to wear their face masks, maintain the proper social distancing, wear protective gloves when possible, use hand sanitizers as needed and frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
“I was getting frustrated myself trying to get on Ocean County’s (Health Department) website for a vaccination. One morning a little before 5 a.m. I went on a website and got an appointment…in Voorhees in Burlington County. Maybe it might work better if people got up a little earlier to try it. Good luck,” Council Vice President Joan Brush said.
Mayor Ken Palmer added, “I spoke with the Ocean County Health Department director to get an update and the plan is when they get enough vaccine, they will start opening up more community specific sites. His words not mine. He knows Manchester is in need with our population and the frailty of some of our residents so they definitely know that is high on their priority list.”
The mayor said he could not get a timeline from the County’s Health Department as to when such sites would be present in the township. It was unknown when the department would have enough vaccine or the manpower to administer them. “That is the goal of the Ocean County Health Department is to set up these sites in certain senior communities.”
“I don’t know if it will be in every senior community but it will be the larger ones and other folks could come to it,” the mayor added.
In other news, the governing body unanimously passed a salary ordinance amending salary ranges and positions of bargaining unit employees, on second reading which Council President Craig Wallis said would “it would bring the salaries in line with what the contract states through the end of the contract. We do this every time we have new contracts.”
The council also approved a bond for various water utility improvements in the amount of $990,000.
“This is to improve the water system that has filters that are 25 years old. This will upgrade the system for another 25 or so years,” Wallis said.
The council also had five ordinances introduced during their recent meeting. The first one amended salary ranges and positions for non-bargaining unit employees. The second one was for the purchase of the Whiting First Aid Squad building on 78 Lacey Road.
A third introduced ordinance was for the sale of property on 525 Fourth Avenue. Councilman Hudak asked, “this is being sold to the adjacent owner is that correct?”
Township Clerk Sabina Martin explained that as it was an oversized lot, “it will be offered to all the adjacent properties. It needs to be consolidated at the time of purchase with any of the adjacent properties and a variance cannot be used for a subdivision to create a new building or additional home.”
“Generally, we don’t allow that to happen when we sell a lot,” Wallis said. “They would have to get a variance to build on it.”
The fourth ordinance introduced that amends the township’s revised ordinances to add residential rental unit re-occupancy and resales. Wallis explained this was giving a better definition for the “Air BNB type of rentals in town.”
The final ordinance authorized the sale of 2643 Ridgeway Road. “This property is being offered up to the adjacent property owners,” Wallis said.
Each of the ordinances will have a public hearing at the council’s February 8 meeting. Martin noted that “we have quite a lot on our consent agenda today.” Among those items was the approval of mobile home licenses for the year; authorizing an application for a New Jersey Transit grant which the township does each year for senior services; applying for a recycling and tonnage grant from the state; designating a recycling communities coordinator for 2021 and establishing salaries for department heads, the mayor and council.
Also included in the consent agenda was the authorization of bids for COVID-19 cleaning services and the authorizing of purchase of street sweeping equipment and a contract award to Garrison Enterprises for a water main extension.