Holmdel bond ordinance falls short of votes needed for adoption

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HOLMDEL – The Township Committee needed four “yes” votes to adopt a bond ordinance during its meeting on July 13, but only mustered three affirmative votes and saw the proposed ordinance go down to defeat.

The ordinance before the governing body proposed appropriating $2.81 million for capital improvements and authorizing the issuance of $2.67 million in bonds or notes to finance a portion of the appropriation.

The ordinance proposed:

• Road improvements, including curbing, milling, paving, drainage and site preparations, Bethany Road intersection improvements, Indian Hill School crosswalk installation, Newman Springs Road and Cross Road crosswalk installation. The planned road improvements accounted for about $1.5 million of the $2.81 million appropriation;

• Public safety building improvements, including Holmdel Police Department locker room renovations and emergency services building improvements. The planned public safety building improvements accounted for about $600,000 of the $2.81 million appropriation;

• Recreational facility improvements, including but not limited to improvements at Allocco Park, improvements at Bayonet Farm, improvements at Ackerson Park and improvements at the Holmdel Swim Club;

• Public safety equipment; public facility improvements; and information technology equipment.

When a motion was made to adopt the bond ordinance, Mayor Greg Buontempo, Deputy Mayor Cathy Weber and Committeeman Prakash Santhana voted “yes.”

Committeeman Tom Critelli and Committeeman D.J. Luccarelli voted “no.”

Because four “yes” votes (two-thirds of the Township Committee) were needed to adopt the bond ordinance, the motion failed in the 3-2 vote.

In recent months, there has been some discussion at the Township Committee level regarding the possible construction of a synthetic turf athletic field in Holmdel.

A recreation advisory committee has been examining the township’s recreational needs.

Funding for a synthetic turf field was not included in the bond ordinance that was before the Township Committee on July 13.

In voting “no” on the motion to adopt the bond ordinance, Critelli and Luccarelli both said they believe more needs to be done for recreation.

“This failure (to adopt the ordinance) is going to affect a lot of people negatively,” Buontempo said.

The mayor said the committee’s action put Holmdel’s 2021 road improvement plan and a plan to furnish the township’s new firehouse in jeopardy.

Weber said the police department’s locker room is in deplorable condition and needs to be updated.

Regarding the committee’s vote on the bond ordinance, during the public comment portion of the meeting, Ron Emma, who lost his bid to win a nomination to run for Township Committee in the June 8 Republican primary election, said, “Mr. Critelli and Mr. Luccarelli did not pass money for public safety. Turf fields trumped public safety.”

Critelli responded by saying, “I am not putting recreation over public safety. We can do both. We should add to the $2.8 million appropriation enough money for a turf field down the road. I am willing to have a discussion about a revised ordinance next month.”

Luccarelli said, “This (vote to reject the bond ordinance) is an opportunity to get something done. This is going to force us (the Township Committee) to work together.”