Daytime In-Person Meeting Set For Controversial Police Ordinance

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  TOMS RIVER – Township Officials will be sitting down, in-person, to discuss a controversial ordinance in regards to police staffing in the middle of the afternoon on Valentine’s Day in Town Hall.

  Toms River Township Clerk Mike Cruoglio confirmed the meeting date to The Toms River Times but also said he was unaware of it until Micromedia Publications inquired about it. He also stated that he had not placed the legal notice of the meeting that had been published in The Asbury Park Press and The Star Ledger, though his name appears on the legal notice.

  The legal notice also includes the name of Assistant Township Attorney Peter S. Pascarella.

  Cruoglio also told The Toms River Times he had not received confirmation of the meeting from Council President Craig Coleman. The township’s Public Information Officer Phil Stilton said that he could not confirm details of the meeting, but knew that an article had run on Toms River Patch.

  The controversial ordinance will have its second reading, public hearing and final vote during a 2 p.m. council meeting to be held on Wednesday, February 14 in the L. Manuel Hirshblond Meeting Room at Town Hall, 33 Washington Street. The ads, placed in the legal notice’s sections of the two daily newspapers were published on February 7.

  There was no notice specifically announcing the Township Council meeting, which would be a special meeting as it isn’t among the original meeting dates approved by the council at the January reorganization meeting. The next scheduled township council meeting had been listed as February 28 at 7 p.m.

  In addition to the police staffing ordinance there were 14 legal notices published concerning ordinances in the two daily newspapers. Members of the council will also vote on ordinances to eliminate adoption fees for the Toms River Animal Shelter; eliminate the Department of Public Works and split it up, with the Division of Roads and Sanitation going under the Department of Administration, and the Division of Parks, Buildings and Grounds moving to the Department of Recreation; to create a Division of Zoning, Planning and Property Maintenance under section 48-6 of the township code and repeal section 48-8, which was the Division of Code Enforcement.

  Also included is an ordinance to place stop signs at the intersection of Yorktowne and Mount Carmel boulevards in Holiday City in Silverton; place stop signs at the intersection of Hickory Hill Road and Harbor View Lane in the Green Island section; to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph the entire length of Hovsons Boulevard and reduce the speed limit to 25 miles per hour the entire length of Yorktowne Boulevard.

  Councilman George Lobman was unable to join last week’s virtual meeting as the Zoom format only allowed for a capacity of 500 participants. The session ended after 38 minutes after an antisemitic comment was made by the first member of the public to speak. The meeting was also plagued with a number of technical problems before it abruptly ended.

  The meeting had been moved to Zoom format for safety reasons according to Council President Coleman and because the anticipated attendance expected would exceed the capacity of town hall which was left unused last week during the meeting.

The Township Council meeting was plagued with issues. (Screenshot by Micromedia Publications)

  A rally held a day before the Zoom meeting and a second rally held a half hour before the start of it, served to promote a recall petition. Hundreds of township residents came to downtown Toms River to oppose the staffing changes in the police department proposed by the mayor.

  Mayor Daniel Rodrick has said the staffing changes are needed to fund eight EMTs to reduce emergency response times.

  The Toms River Times reached out to Council President Coleman and members of council concerning the issue along with Mayor Rodrick requesting a response on the choice of the meeting time. At press time, no response was received.