STAFFORD – It’s been a little over a month since Stafford saw a change at the helm of the township. Stafford’s new Mayor Gregory Myhre said he has big plans for the town and has already begun making moves towards change since the start of 2019.
Myhre is not native to Stafford Township, but he has lived here for many years. He currently resides in the Ocean Acres section of town with his wife and three kids, where he operates a computer networking business.
It’s a “business to business type of thing,” Myhre explained. “I think I’m quite prepared [to be mayor]” having worked with “people from all levels of employment” at his current, full-time job.
According to Myhre, his experience as a businessman, as well as civil service experience as a former elected member of the Ocean County Republican Committee and Ocean County Republican Screening Committee, has prepared him for what’s to come as the head of the governing body.
Jersey Shore Online sat down for an interview with Myhre in January where he discussed the new administration’s immediate and long-term goals, as well as some of the ongoing township projects.
“Immediate plans are just getting things sorted,” at town hall, he said. Myhre and the rest of the Stafford Conservatives team have been in office for just a few short weeks, so the adjustment period continues.
While the administration looks for a new township administrator, Myhre will be acting as both mayor and administrator. Former township administrator James Moran retired as of January 1, 2019, leaving the position open.
Myhre said “an ad has been placed and we have been receiving a steady stream of resumes [for township administrator]. I am confident that we will be able to hire a highly qualified administrator who is prepared to take on the challenges of the job from day one. This is one of the most important positions in our town, so it is critical that we take the time needed to hire the right person.”
The township is working on filling the position within the first quarter.
With such responsibility only one month into his term, Myhre noted that former mayor John Spodofora has been helpful, offering his assistance should it be required. With nearly 37 years of experience in elected public office, nine of which he spent as mayor, “He’s made himself available for anything we need,” Myhre added.
While the township council works on moving into their quarters in town hall, Paul Shives, former township administrator prior to Moran, has been hired as an outside consultant to assess “where we’re at,” said Myhre.
“It’s good to get input from a lot of people,” he said, which is why Myhre has also spent some time this past month reaching out to the people that live in Stafford to get their opinions on what needs to change or improve.
According to Myhre, Stafford has been in desperate need of change. “I’ve been hearing it for years,” he said.
And while there are six new faces on the dais each week, the governing body believes that there is much more work that needs to be done.
While change brews from within town hall, physical improvements and ongoing projects can also be seen cropping up all over Stafford Township, from bulldozed buildings to adventure parks in the works.
Myhre informed Jersey Shore Online about some of the projects in Stafford, such as the former Sonic fast food restaurant. The Sonic was located just off Route 72 east, adjacent to both the Chase Bank and Aldi grocery store. While the restaurant has been out of business for some time, the structure was recently torn down to make way for new business.
According to Myhre, the site will soon become “an Xfinity store as well an additional retail business with a drive through lane.”
A little further down Route 72 east lies The Mainland at The Holiday Inn. Between the hotel building and the highway, a brand new adventure park is being constructed.
“The project is underway and there will be a ropes course, zip line attraction and electric go-carts,” said Myhre. “Reservations have to be made online and there will also be a lounge and viewing areas.”
While business balances itself throughout town, Myhre and the administration continue to work on gaining feedback from both residents and business owners on some major issues, for example, the plastic bag ban.
The plastic bag ban, approved by the former administration, went into effect in early December 2018. During the Stafford Conservative’s 2018 election campaign, they made clear they were not in favor of the ban, calling it an “unnecessary impediment.” However, Myhre admits that investments have been made into implementing the ban into the community and it will not be easy to repeal.
“I think it will create some problems for people…We’re not going to take quick action without getting feedback,” said Myhre. “We are in the early or first stage of listening to what the residents and business owners have to say about the effects of the ban. We are also concerned with legislation that will likely be introduced in Trenton and this will have an impact on what we would do here in Stafford.”
For now, the ban remains intact, so don’t forget your reusable bags when you leave the house.
Long term, Myhre has financial goals to reach.
“I want to make sure that we keep a stable tax base, reduce spending if we can, make sure the towns on sound financial footing,” he said. As of now, “I think we probably are” in pretty good shape, but there is always room for improvement, he noted.