By KAYLA J. MARSH
EATONTOWN – A recent Borough Council meeting saw some highs and lows as the governing body recognized local students for achievements outside of the classroom, discussed a new trap, neuter and release program, provided a quick update on the Monmouth Mall redevelopment and grieved the loss of a “hometown hero.”
During the July 13 meeting of the governing body, Councilman Richard J. Robinson announced the Line of Duty Death of Richard N. Zadorozny, who according to an obituary posted on the borough’s website, passed away at his home on July 11.
“We lost a very dear member of our community,” Robinson said. “Rich was a real special man.”
Zadorozny served the community of Eatontown as a life member of both the Eatontown Fire Department (Ex-Chief and current Chief Engineer) and Eatontown First Aid Squad.
“He was a 48-year member of our fire and first aid organizations and was only 66 years old,” Robinson said.
“His dedication to the town went beyond his service for the fire and first aid squads … he was the glue that made our fire department stick together.
“Rich was perhaps one of the most insightful and level-headed people from Eatontown that I have ever had the pleasure of being associated with … and I’ll miss him very much.”
On a happier note for the meeting, two Memorial Middle School students were honored with proclamations for success outside of the classroom.
“Many years ago, the borough had an essay contest, ‘what Eatontown means to me,’” Council Anthony Talerico Jr. said.
“The Historical Committee decided they wanted to renew that contest. They thought it would be great to instill pride in the youth in this town to focus on why Eatontown is important to them.”
The winner of this year’s contest was student Eric Pietz, who along with the proclamation, received a $100 prize and award/plaque from the committee.
The governing body also honored student Mindy Nguyen, who placed locally and statewide in the Lions Club International Peace Poster Contest.
“Youth … enter and express their ideas about their vision of peace,” Councilwoman Virginia East said. “Mindy placed first in the local district and third in the state over 1,000 other students.”
The meeting also saw Mayor Dennis Connelly provide a quick update in regards to the Monmouth Mall redevelopment.
“Kushner [Companies] representatives … reached out to council and reached out to our professionals,” he said.
Connelly said borough professionals and Kushner’s professionals had a meeting July 14 to discuss the mall and an ordinance that would have changed the zoning of the site from commercial to mixed-use and would have allowed Kushner to build up to 800 residential units on the property.
The ordinance was voted down at a packed April 27 council meeting after numerous public comments and Kushner opting not to go through with the $500 million redevelopment plan that would have turned the site into a 24-hour indoor and outdoor pedestrian-friendly mixed-use community.
“We’re still in the early stages … they look like they are addressing a lot of the issues that were brought up from the mall ordinance … and hopefully we’ll have a better understanding and know where we stand by our next meeting so we can report on that.”
Connelly said no elected officials were present at the meeting.
The governing body also discussed a new program to help assist with the issue of feral cats in the borough.
“There’s been some progress on the Eatontown Trap, Neuter and Release Program, which the mayor and council was involved in several years ago,” said Brian Charnick, Eatontown Board of Health president.
“We finally got a draft of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Eatontown Board of Health… and the Monmouth County SPCA, based on a very successful Borough of Highlands Trap Neuter and Release Program.”
The Trap Neuter and Release Program is one where free-roaming cats can be trapped, sterilized and medically treated and then returned to where they were initially found.
“There’s some money involved because of the costs of handling each cat that’s trapped, neutered and then released,” Charnick said. “It is $75 per cat and we’re proposing to split that with the Monmouth County SPCA, so its $37.50 for up to a 100 cats [per year] … so that would be $3,750 [annually].
“It’s the beginning of a program the Board of Health unanimously proposed moving forward with.
“We’re looking to run some training programs in the community center for volunteers in town and hopefully make this a success.”
Going forward the governing body will need to adopt a resolution in support of the program.
“I supported it when it was proposed before … and I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t want to go forward at this time,” Mayor Connelly said.