Committee on human relations will not issue final report in Holmdel

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HOLMDEL – The Holmdel Ad Hoc Committee on Human Relations will not issue a final report containing recommendations for members of the Township Committee to consider.

Speaking during the April 27 meeting of the governing body, Deputy Mayor Cathy Weber, who served on the ad hoc committee, reported that the group’s members met, but could not reach a consensus on recommendations and would not issue a final report for Holmdel’s elected officials and residents to consider.

No members of the Township Committee responded to Weber’s comment about the ad hoc panel’s decision not to issue a final report.

As of May 6, Weber had not responded to an email from the Independent seeking additional comment on the matter.

The Independent also sent an email to the township administrator asking for contact information for the individual who chaired the ad hoc committee.

Township Administrator Cherron Rountree responded by saying she forwarded the newspaper’s email to the appropriate individual and if that person wished to comment then he/she would reach out to the Independent.

As of May 6, no one from the ad hoc committee has reached out to the Independent.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Human Relations was formed by Holmdel officials in 2020 after public comments were made about a blue line that had been painted on Crawfords Corner Road in front of police headquarters in 2016 as a show of support for law enforcement personnel.

Earlier this year, the ad hoc committee issued a preliminary report and a series of recommendations for municipal officials and members of the public to consider.

The report was presented to the Township Committee on Feb. 9 by ad hoc committee member Robert Shearer.

According to the preliminary report, the members of the committee sought to address the public’s concerns about racism and discrimination. They made the following recommendations:

• Sign a “Stand Up for the Other” pledge. In essence, a promise to speak up and challenge bigotry in any form;

• Create and publicize a summary of Holmdel’s current relevant policies to increase awareness and encourage reports regarding police and citizen interaction;

• Restore Holmdel’s historic African American cemetery beyond the homes on Canyon Woods Court;

• Additional Township Committee training;

• Institute regular town hall meetings to give members of the public opportunities to participate in dialogue with municipal officials outside the confines of a regular Township Committee meeting;

• Establish a series of community education events aimed at raising awareness and facilitating discussion about topics that could include race, religion, gender, etc.;

• The Blue Line. The ad hoc committee wrote that “regardless of the town’s original intent (in painting the blue line outside police headquarters), it is clear the line means something different today to many.

“The symbol has been appropriated by White supremacist groups and the blue line now has the effect of making some members of our community feel unwelcome, and even threatened, in Holmdel. The committee finds this impact unacceptable.

“It should not be ignored that the blue line flag was carried alongside Confederate flags and Nazi insignia by the insurrectionists who breached our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“The committee therefore recommends that the Township Committee abstain from maintaining Holmdel’s blue line.

“When it comes time for the section of Crawfords Corner Road that contains the blue line to be repaved, we recommend to the governing body that the blue line not be replaced. We advise that our roads only be marked for the purposes of traffic safety,” the ad hoc committee wrote in its report.

Mayor Greg Buontempo accepted the ad hoc committee’s preliminary report on behalf of the governing body and said it would be the subject of a future discussion regarding the possible implementation of the panel’s recommendations.

After Weber reported on April 27 that the ad hoc committee would not issue a final report, no other members of the Township Committee commented on her announcement, nor did anyone on the governing body indicate the matter would be taken up again.

The ad hoc committee consisted of Holmdel residents Sarrah Buker, Francine Campis, Hannah Friedman, Carey Goldson, Michael Nikolis, Robert Shearer, the Rev. Dr. David C. Bocock, Weber, who was appointed as a Township Committee member, Holmdel Police Capt. Frank Allocco, and Township Administrator Cherron Rountree.