Scanning Middletown’s Open Space

first_imgBy Jay Cook |MIDDLETOWN –Middletown is the largest municipality in Monmouth County, but when it comes to the amount of land set aside for open space, how does it compare to others?Better than you would think, Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger told residents earlier this week.Spread across 41 square miles, Middletown has about 5,500 acres of preserved open space inside its township borders – and up to 6,000 if land with conservation easements are counted, Scharfenberger said.To put it in perspective, that’s equal in total acreage to the size of two Atlantic Highlands, four Fair Havens and seven Sea Brights. “That’s very impressive, and I don’t think people realize the extent of what we have here,” Scharfenberger said.The Dec. 5 land use forum at the Middletown Arts Center was the fourth held by Scharfenberger and township administrator Tony Mercantante in the past 18 months. Other land use forums focused on development and redevelopment, revitalizing Route 36 and land-use planning. Tuesday night’s theme was how to prevent overdevelopment while encouraging sensible growth. The officials gave an overview on Middletown’s current open space situation, which they believe will improve as 2018 approaches.Looking at the NumbersMercantante said Middletown has been active in acquiring open space through the state Green Acres program since around 1999. The program provides funding so municipalities can add land to their inventories.According to Mercantante, there have been 17 Green Acres acquisitions totaling 223 acres. The total purchase cost is about $26 million, of which the township was obliged to pay $10.3 million, with the remainder covered by different public and private entities.“The biggest challenge is negotiating with property owners, trying to come to terms with acquiring a piece of property and then decide why we’re acquiring it,” Mercantante said.The most expensive of those 17 properties is the 40-acre Fisher-Stern plot, which became part of the Monmouth County Park System in 2005 as the Claypit Creek extension to Hartshorne Woods. The property was acquired with help from the county, Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF), the state’s Green Acres Program and the township. That single purchase cost those entities a total of $10.4 million at the time, with Middletown paying $1.9 million.Middletown open space purchases are funded through a two-cent tax per $100 of assessed property valuation, Scharfenberger said. That open space tax first commenced in 1999, when Middletown became active in purchasing property.That tax complements the new county Open Space Trust Fund tax increase approved by voters in November. When it goes into effect in 2018, the county projects over $14 million more annually available in the fund.Scharfenberger said the final piece to the open space puzzle should come in the next calendar year. About $1.5 million is owed to Middletown by the state through purchase reimbursements. Not having that money has limited the township, both officials said, and they anticipate more purchases coming in the near future.“Now we’re building a little bit of a war chest and looking around to purchase more open space as those reimbursements come in from the state,” Scharfenberger said.Success StoriesPreserving the right pieces of land has been the focus of Middletown’s open space mission over the past two decades, Mercantante said. With it comes the balance of preservation and development, considering “every property owner has the right to utilize their property in some reasonable fashion,” he said.Outside of the Fisher-Stern property, he highlighted two other instances where residential or commercial development was halted and that land was purchased.The first piece of open space is Bicentennial Park, a 10-acre swath of wooded land, a brook and pond, with a walking pier out to the water. It’s bordered by Route 35 South (and a Burger King) but stretches back along Twin Brooks Avenue and Spruce Drive on either side. Mercantante said the “great piece of open space” was proposed as a condo-office complex but the township stepped in to purchase the area. The $850,000 total price tag cost Middletown $425,000.The other noted property is Swimming River Park, a county-owned park planned for redevelopment in the next few years. For decades the site was Chris’ Landing, a popular boat launch for small watercraft and recreational kayakers, anchored by Chris’ Deli on site. Scharfenberger said a developer had plans to build a housing complex on the 16-acre site, but MCF and the county stepped in to purchase the land for $3.8 million in 2015.Refurbishing Forgotten ParksWith 49 active parks in town ranging from Lincroft to Leonardo, some have fallen by the wayside and could be earmarked for upgrades or new uses.The best example, Mercantante said, is the forlorn Camp Hope buried back in Lincroft Acres off Newman Springs Road. The old campground is accessible by a dirt road behind the two soccer fields and is surrounded by the Swimming River watershed.The day camp for children with disabilities was shut down about a decade ago and remains closed. In the years since, the pool, pergola, picnic tables and facilities have fallen into disrepair. This year, Mercantante said a nonprofit organization contacted the town looking to reestablish a summer camp in Middletown, and Camp Hope was the first location on his mind.Middletown is working with them now, he said, to install another pool and improve the facilities.Finding new purposes for other recreational parks in town will be a focus as well. Mercantante said repurposing Middletown’s three outdoor roller hockey rinks will be on the agenda. Two of those are currently shut down, he said, and the third is scarcely used anymore. What could they turn into? Maybe pickleball, he said, considering the sport’s growing popularity and requests from residents.“Those are the kinds of things we always have to be mindful of in the future, either using existing fields or construction of new ones,” Mercantante said.On the other hand, there are no plans to replace the Cavadas Skate Park on Pulsch Street in Belford, Scharfenberger said.Opened in 2003 after being purchased for $165,000, the 0.7-acre skate park was shut down by the township in 2010 amid concerns from township police. Scharfenberger said the “major league headache” had over 500 complaints to the police in one year. “It just didn’t pay for the upkeep and constant repairs,” he said.“We see no need nor desire on our part to reopen it,” he added. “That’s closed for the foreseeable future.”This article was first published in the Dec. 7-14, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.last_img read more

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The cry of a public servant under the David Granger Administration

first_imgDear Editor,I have been pondering for quite a while now on whether I should publicly express my disdain for the blatant lack of empathy and discrimination bestowed upon me by my employer at a Government agency. I’ve recently completed my MSc and am now serving the Government.Since my return, just under a year, I haven’t received an added cent in remuneration. On the contrary, my workload doubled and I still have the same job as I initially had before my departure to study. And to add insult to injury, my supervisor is a fresh graduate who has just completed his bachelor from UG. And best of all, I had to train him.I made several complaints to PSM about my mistreatment, but nothing was done. It’s as if you have no one to turn to but to endure. I must say, I’m quite disheartened and completely demotivated. My enthusiasm has now morphed into passive resistance. And I’m not the only one. I know of tens of other young professionals, both Indians and Afro-Guyanese, who are going through the same. There is no future under this Government for us. That is the sad reality.Sincerely,Mr Engineerlast_img read more

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East Coast serial robber slapped with 10 charges

first_imgA self-confessed serial robber appeared before the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court on Thursday charged with a series of armed robberies on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).Shemroy Hackett, 27, called ‘Donkey’ of Lot 137 Bare Root, Bachelor’s Adventure, ECD, pleaded not guilty to all ten charges and was remanded to prison until September 30. Hackett was positively identified during several identification parades conducted on Wednesday, in relation to six recent armed robberies, including one that was committed on the owner of R. Ramlogan General Store, Logwood, Enmore, last Monday.The defendant was apprehended following a high-speed chase and shoot-out with police. He was found in possession of a firearm and ammunition.In addition to the six robbery under arms charges, Hackett was also slapped with two counts of discharging a loaded firearm with intent, as well as possession of an unlicensed firearm and twelve rounds of matching ammunition.It was reported that sometime around 15:45h on August 29, four masked and armed men confronted the grocery shop owner and demanded cash and jewellery. The men subsequently carted off a quantity of valuables including a licensed handgun with fifteen rounds of ammunition, after assaulting the businessman.They then made their escape from the premises, hijacked a pink Toyota Raum bearing registration PNN 334 and proceeded in the vicinity of Bare Root, further up the Coast.However, they were observed by ranks of two patrols, and upon realising that they had attracted the attention of the Police, the men opened fire.In retaliation, the Police discharged several rounds at the vehicle, one of which shattered the back windscreen. The perpetrators abandoned the car and fled towards the backlands of Bare Root. They were pursued by the Police and Hackett was arrested with the unlicensed firearm and ammunition.A number of live rounds and spent shells were also found in the stolen car, which was taken into Police custody.Whilst in custody, the man also confessed to being a member of a gang which committed a series of armed robberies on the ECD.Police in ‘C’ Division (ECD) are currently working on vital information received to apprehend the three other bandits involved in the Enmore robbery and efforts are also being made to dismantle the gang which Hackette admitted to being a part of.last_img read more

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Ruling set for February

first_imgFreedom Radio challengeFreedom Radio Inc’s constitutional challenge against the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) increasing the annual broadcast fee and imposing Government-mandated broadcasts during prime time hours is set for ruling on February 15, 2018.The matter came up for hearing at the Supreme Court on Wednesday when acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, ordered both sides to put their submissions to the court in writing.Attorney for the applicant, Anil Nandlall has until December 15 for his submissions in writing to the court while Attorney General Basil Williams has until February 8 to submit his response to Nandlall’s submissions. The acting Chief Justice indicatedFreedom Radio Inc Director, Irfaan Alithereafter that the matter was fixed for ruling on February 15, 2018.In the constitutional challenge that was filed on behalf of Freedom Radio Director Irfaan Ali, Nandlall and Associates are calling on the court to place on hold the enforcement of several provisions in the Broadcasting Act until the determination of the Judiciary. The sworn affidavit, filed in Ali’s name, claims that provisions in the Broadcast Act expropriate the business’s airwaves causing it to lose on its revenue during ‘prime time’, without compensation.The affidavit states Freedom Radio Inc is in the business of selling airtime for reward and the provisions in question are not only onerous but are in fact unconstitutional since they violate guaranteed and protected rights and freedoms. The coalition Administration earlier this year enacted broadcast legislation which compels local broadcasters to broadcast Government programmes under the ambit of “public service programmes”. Freedom Radio Inc, which is owned and managed by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), had highlighted in its legal documents that “between the hours of 06:00h and 22:00h are considered prime-time; this means that these hours attract the highest rates of rewards”.The radio station contends that an hour during this period can easily be sold at a more competitive rate – higher depending upon the particular day of the week – and as such, the requirement by Government in fact “expropriates” money from Freedom Radio without compensation. The Opposition station argues that the move was in fact unconstitutional, since it violated fundamentals rights and freedoms, which enjoy protection under the Constitution of Guyana.The applicant further highlighted that the fees have been increased to $7.5 million annually, up from the $2.5 million of previous payments. Freedom Radio Inc previously paid $2.5 million annually for its Broadcasting Licence in addition to another payment of $633,600 for its Spectrum/Frequency. These fees were paid over to the then National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU), the predecessor to the Guyana Broadcasting Authority which came into being with the assent of Head of State, David Granger to the amended broadcasting legislation.Under the new arrangement, the Administration introduced a zoning system and charges fees for each zone. According to Freedom Radio in its challenge, with the new zoning system, the fee “for broadcasting licence to broadcast in the very areas that it is now transmitting would skyrocket from $2,500,000 annually, to over $7,500,000 annually”.last_img read more

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NCMA upset over loss of Analog Cell Phone Service

first_imgThe North Central Municipal Association (NCMA) Board of Directors expressed concern about cuts to Telus analog cell phone service around Northern BC. The NCMA plans to pursue the issue with Telus and the federal and provincial governments. “We are very concerned about the loss of service in our region”, says NCMA President Murry Krause. “It is important to note that these residents are not asking for a new service, they have had analog cell phone coverage for many years and now it is being taken away from them. Unfortunately analog cell phones are the only means of phone communication that many residents have in the north, and at this time it does not appear that residents are being offered any other options.““We are trying to work with Telus to resolve this issue,” says Karen Goodings, Chair of the Peace River Regional District. “The NCMA Board has requested a meeting with senior Telus representatives to discuss its concerns. We have had unreliable and intermittent cell phone coverage across the North for many years, which is frustrating to say the least, but it is also a safety issue when travelling the highways especially during the winter months. To have it completely eliminated from some areas with no option to access digital service is simply unacceptable”. – Advertisement -Members of the NCMA Executive are in agreement that residents affected by the cuts to service need to be provided an affordable, reliable option. They are asking all residents who are affected by the cuts to analog cell phone or EARS (Exchange Area Radiotelephone Service) to contact their office by Sept. 30th and have their name included on a list that will be forwarded to Telus. “It is important that we determine exactly how many residents in the North Central Region are affected,” says NCMA President Murry Krause. “We specifically want to hear from those residents who have no option other than analog or EARS service.” The NCMA office can be reached at 250-564-6585 or via email at nrthcent@telus.net Advertisement NCMA will be sending letters expressing its concern to Telus, the CRTC, Industry Canada, and to Premier Gordon Campbell, the Minister of Citizen’s Services and to all Northern MLA’s.last_img read more

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IRISH SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE FOR ADULT LEARNERS THIS SUMMER

first_imgScholarships for Adult Learners of Irish on Oideas Gael Courses, supported by Foras na Gaeilge.Oideas Gael is pleased to announce scholarship opportunities for adult learners on Irish courses in Gleann Cholm Cille and Coimín, Gleann Fhinne, Co. Dhún na nGall.  Courses are held weekly from now till the end of August at all levels from absolute beginner to fuller fluency. Persons awarded scholarship should be resident in Northern Ireland and register beforehand with the LÍOFA 2015 Scheme, which can be done simply by going on-line to:  http://www.liofa.eu/signPriority in the selection process will be accorded to those who have not previously had the opportunity to study Irish while at school, or lack the means of attending courses without scholarship assistance.Applications are invited by telephoning Oideas Gael at 00353 74 97 30248 or by contacting the office via e-mail at oideasgael@eircom.net with a brief outline as to why you should receive a scholarship.Oideas Gael wishes to thank Foras na Gaeilge for scholarship funding. Eolas/Information  +353 87 9173106 (Liam)Scoláireachtaí do Fhoghlaimeoirí Fásta Gaeilge ar chúrsaí Oideas Gael le tacaíocht ó Fhoras na GaeilgeTá áthas ar Oideas Gael a fhógairt go bhfuil scoláireachtaí ar fáil do dhaoine fásta ar a chuid cúrsaí Gaeilge i nGleann Cholm Cille agus ar An Choimin, Gleann Fhinne. Beidh cúrsaí ar siúl gach seachtain ó seo go deireadh mhí Lúnasa agus iad ar gach uile leibhéal ó ghlantosaitheoir go líofa.Beidh ar an té ar a mbronnfar scoláireacht a bheith ina gcónaí i dTuaisceart Éireann agus orthu clárú roimh ré le Scéim LÍOFA 2015. Thig sin a dhéanamh ach dul ar-líne go:     http://www.liofa.eu/signTabharfar tús áite dóibh siúd nach raibh deis acu Gaeilge a fhoghlaim ar scoil nó nach bhfuil d’acmhainn acu freastal ar chúrsa gan cuidiú scoláireachta.Tá fáilte roimh iarrthóirí glaoch ar oifig Oideas Gael ag  +353 74 97 30248 nó r-phost a sheoladh chugainn ag  oideasgael@eircom.net Tá Oideas Gael faoi mhórchomaoin ag Foras na Gaeilge as an scéim seo a mhaoiniú.Tá sonrai ar chúrsaí Oideas Gael ar fáil ag:  www.oideasgael.ieIRISH SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE FOR ADULT LEARNERS THIS SUMMER was last modified: June 8th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:FeaturesnewsNoticeslast_img read more

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GOLF NEWS: OTWAY GOLF CLUB NOTES

first_imgLast Friday the club AGM took place with some new faces taking up the reins for the coming year.Patrick Kelly (Kerrykeel) took over the helm as club captain, with other new committee member Paddy Lynch taking up the secretary’s job, and Damien Gallagher taking the role of handicap secretary.Best of luck to all in their new roles, and of course to the ‘old faces’ still in position, that is Denis Friel in his second year as treasurer, Gerry McGivern in his second year as club President, and Brendan Gallagher and Dave Hughes as joint competition secretaries. The captain and lady captain hope to hold their Drive-in on Sunday 10th March with tee-times at 9am and 1pm, with names in to the clubhouse 30 minutes before for a draw for partners. Sticking with tradition, the captains would like to extend a warm welcome to members of neighbouring Portsalon GC to participate in the golf on the day, and presentation of prizes afterwards in the clubhouse. GOLF NEWS: OTWAY GOLF CLUB NOTES was last modified: February 27th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:OTWAY GOLF CLUB NOTESlast_img read more

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Arsenal man set to return for Chelsea game

first_imgBoss Arsene Wenger says Mesut Ozil will return to the Arsenal squad when they host Chelsea on Sunday, but Alexis Sanchez may not be risked.Ozil has fully recovered from the foot injury that kept him out of last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Stoke and will definitely be involved.Sanchez is also close to full fitness, having been sidelined since November, but Wenger admitted it would be a gamble to play him against the Blues.He said: “The doubt is that he has been out for a long time and [there is] the risk of a setback if you try to go too early.“To be clear on all the tests is one thing, training is another thing, and after that the intensity of a big game which you can never repeat in a training session.“I am cautious with him because we cannot afford a setback with him. A setback would mean a very long period out so we don’t want to take this gamble.”Wenger also confirmed Francis Coquelin returned to full training on Thursday, with Danny Welbeck doing likewise next week. Tomas Rosicky is also ruled out of the Chelsea match.See also:Costa and Hazard passed fit for Arsenal clashArsenal v Chelsea: match preview, team news, facts and figuresFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

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Hizb ‘start-up’ foiled in Assam

first_imgThe police in Assam have arrested more alleged members of the extremist group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), believed to have been planning to launch a disruptive “start-up” in the State.On Monday, the police in central Assam’s Nagaon and adjoining Hojai districts, arrested three men — Riyazuddin Bhuyan, Joynal Ahmed and Baharul Islam. Sleuths, police said, had been keeping a watch on the trio after inputs that they had assisted HM operative Qamar-uz-Zaman during his visit to the State in August.Qamar, hailing from Jamunamukh in the Hojai district, was arrested last week from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Four of his associates, including one from Meghalaya, had been arrested till Sunday.Cashing inThe police said the HM had sent Qamar to Assam to radicalise Muslim youth, possibly to cash in on a feeling of victimisation because of the exclusion of many from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC). “They had plans to launch a start-up in Hojai district. We had kept tabs on the suspects but did not have concrete evidence on their connection with the HM. The arrests were made after collecting technical evidence,” Ankur Jain, Hojai district Superintendent of Police, said.He did not specify the nature of the start-up the HM or Qamar’s associates had been planning to set up.Tracing contactsAssam’s Director General of Police (DGP) Kuladhar Saikia, who is monitoring the investigation, said police traced the people Qamar had contacted or moved around with during his “recruitment trip” in August.Qamar had avoided his home in Jamunamukh but stayed in the house of one Shahnawaz Alam arrested last week. Police said Qamar had also used Riyazuddin’s motorcycle to move around during his stay.Qamar is believed to have been radicalised in Kashmir, where he had gone on some business a few years ago. Police came to know about his joining HM from his photo, in fatigues and holding an AK-47 rifle, uploaded on social media.Assam had a few short-lived Islamist groups that allegedly worked for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) to help militant outfits such as the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in the 1990s.last_img read more

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