By Mark Rosman
MANALAPAN – Ending the abuse of drugs and alcohol by youths and adults in the community has been the goal of the members of the Manalapan-Englishtown Community Alliance to Prevent Alcoholism and Drug Abuse since 1990.
The pursuit of that goal continues today, 26 years after the alliance was created. Toward that end, the alliance plans to introduce Project Zero, a community-based initiative that will seek to address the issue.
“Why is there a community alliance?” Manalapan Health Officer Dave Richardson asked during the Feb. 10 meeting of the Township Committee. “There is a community alliance because in 2015 (in Manalapan) there were 35 arrests for driving while intoxicated, 50 arrests for possession of marijuana, 22 arrests for heroin, 10 arrests for illegal possession of prescription medications, five arrests for cocaine … Our police officers used Narcan 10 times to revive individuals who overdosed on heroin, and nine of those were successful uses” of the antidote, he said.
With those statistics in mind, Richardson said, Project Zero will seek to engage adults, youths, business operators and the police in a fight to eradicate the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
Ari Solomon, 29, a lifelong resident of Manalapan who chairs the alliance, said, “Our plan is to ask community members to support Project Zero by placing a Project Zero sign in restaurants; we will engage students and the police department. Drug abuse in Manalapan and Englishtown is undeniable. We will start with trying to reduce (the abuse) and work our way down to reaching zero (abuse). I am tired of watching people I grew up with die from drugs.”
Solomon said the alliance will sponsor its second annual Fun Run on April 30. He said last year’s inaugural Fun Run raised $3,000 that the alliance will use to run Project Zero.
“We had 130 runners in 2015 and we will try to double that number this year,” Solomon said.
Committeeman Jordan Maskowitz, who is retired from the New Jersey State Police, said one of the most difficult tasks a police officer must perform is telling a parent that his child has died from a drug overdose. He said the community alliance has “100 percent support from the Township Committee; this is a state and national problem.”
Committeeman Jack McNaboe said the alliance will host an educational event about drug abuse in the community on the evening of April 7 at Manalapan High School.
“We owe it to our kids to listen to what (the alliance) has to say. Parents should get educated about what their kids are being exposed to,” McNaboe said.
In other business at the Feb. 10 committee meeting, officials authorized the awarding of a contract to C.J. Sullivan Construction Co., Manalapan, for the demolition of and asbestos removal from an unoccupied home on the Gentile farm, Route 522. The township acquired the property several years ago. Township Administrator Tara Lovrich said the demolition work was funded in 2015 and approval to undertake the project was recently received.
The contract with C.J. Sullivan Construction is for $30,275. The other bid received for the work was from Brenner Drainage and Excavating Inc. in the amount of $38,345, according to the resolution that was passed by the committee.
Municipal officials honored Abby Dmello and Dana Lutsky, who are members of Girl Scout Troop 1536, for their efforts to help renovate and clean a building on Route 33 that is now the Manalapan Community Center. Mayor Mary Ann Musich and the other members of the governing body thanked the two young women for contributing to the rehabilitation of the building that is now hosting events put on by many organizations.
Finally, Musich announced that registration for the Manalapan Recreation summer camp program will be held at 9 a.m. March 5 at the municipal building, Route 522 and Taylors Mills Road.