This was a short and largely uneventful meeting up until Public Comment. The only points of note would be the discussion/presentation of the Community Development Block Grant HOME Investment Partnership Program and Resolution 2017-81-4, Resolution Authorizing Expenditure of Funds for NJDOT Traffic Control Device for Fostertown/Rt 38 Traffic Light, Not to Exceed $17,500.
Community Development Block Grant HOME Program
Our new Administrator, Paula Kosko, explained some details about this grant, which has been part of the County Block grant program for years. Potential benefits include up to $5000 to qualifying home purchasers as down payment and up to $4000 to cover closing costs, in addition to funds for developers interested in constructing Affordable Housing. She will pursue this with a view to filing for the grant in 2019.
This was pushed back until the May 9th Meeting on request of Committeeman Dickinson. He feels we can save money by modeling the study on a different traffic light.
- Anna Evans: addressed a recent four-point statement made by Mayor Porto on his Community Page, which she reminded everyone many Hainesport residents are blocked from seeing.
- Transparency: she said that Mayor Porto’s claims to be a supporter of transparency were false and that his reputation for a lack of transparency comes from the Committee’s history of refusing to explain their decisions, some of which are made in executive session in the dead of night.
- Vision: she asked what the plans were for the derelict Exxon station on Route 38. Mayor Porto asked if she meant the one in Lumberton. [Note: Anna meant the Exxon garage after Stine’s Apothecary, which IS in Hainesport.]
- Environment: she noted there was a Clean Up Day coming and asked if Mayor Porto could explain how that worked, where the debris is taken, and whether it is more effective than using the county landfill. Mayor Porto said the day was for the benefit of residents so they could drop off trash that wouldn’t be picked up by trash men. She repeated that she wanted to know how it worked. Committeeman Dickinson said the residents come, drop off trash and the Township deals with it. Evans said, what about the connection to Hainesport Industrial Railroad (HIR)? At this point Paula Kosko, the Administrator explained the process as she understood it, and said she didn’t know about any connection to HIR.
- Participation: she observed that it did not encourage community involvement when the Mayor, aided by Leila Gilmore, tried to put his political opponents in jail, as the two of them had to her after the election. She added that she did have a concrete suggestion to improve participation, which was to offer babysitting during the township meetings, and that there might be young people who needed volunteer hours for RV Honor Societies or Scouts. At this point, she asked Committeeman Fitzpatrick why he was laughing at her. He said he wasn’t laughing at her, but at another resident sitting in the front row, and pointed to Scott Cooper, who asked why he was laughing. Fitzpatrick said that Cooper was funny. Dickinson said that residents should call the township building if they had suggestions, and not ask her to put them to the committee, and perhaps she should tell people that in future. Evans said she wasn’t surprised people asked her instead of them, given that they weren’t exactly approachable. Deputy Mayor Masciocchi objected to her characterizing him personally as unapproachable and Evans apologized to him. She added that she didn’t blame him or Committeeman Dickinson for the court case against her, and that it was clearly a conspiracy between Leila Gilmore, Tony Porto, and Mike Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick asked why she was bringing his name into it, and Evans said because he was named in the witness statement that Leila Gilmore had made to the NJSP. Fitzpatrick called Evans a liar. Evans said that she had a document she could show everyone which named Fitzpatrick, and Fitzpatrick called her a liar again. Evans said she would email the document to Township Solicitor John Gillespie and prove she was telling the truth. She thanked the committee for their time and sat down.
- A woman from the Hainesport Environmental Commission talked about the upcoming National Water Trail presentation on April 27.
- Kitt McNelis: thanked Mayor Dickinson for postponing the new traffic light ordinance, and welcomed the new administrator.
- Leila Gilmore: said she was freezing.
- Frank Masciocchi: wished the new administrator good luck. he added that this “wasn’t directed at Anna” but he wanted to talk about Hainesport Municipal Court. He didn’t think it should be shared with Westampton and could they look into sharing with Lumberton instead. Dickinson said that they were always reviewing which services were shared with which Municipality and a discussion ensued. When it ended Evans raised her hand and asked if she could clarify something since Committeeman Masciocchi had mentioned her name. Masciocchi indicated that she should go ahead, but Mayor Porto said that Public Comment was over and it was Committee Comment time. Evans said again she just wanted to clarify something. Mayor Porto, who seemed a little irate, grabbed his gavel and thumped it on the dais, saying that Evans did “not have the right to interrupt a public government meeting” and that she had had plenty of opportunity to rebut everything during Public Comment.
- Mick Dickinson: thanked everyone who had helped with the Easter Egg Hunt and reminded everyone about the grand Pickleball Court Opening Ceremony this coming Saturday at 10.30 a.m.
- Mayor Porto:
- Thanked everyone who helped with the Easter Egg Hunt and Parents’ Night Out
- Reminded everyone that Clean Up Day was this Saturday and that there was nothing secretive about the event which was for residents’ benefit.
- Said he wanted to address the matter of the court case which had been brought up:
- He reminded everyone that last November the NJSP had given a presentation which told all residents that it was their duty to report crimes.
- He said that last Election Day 2 crimes had come to his attention: the individual was sitting at a table with the poll books, and later was interacting with voters.
- He said that he reported these crimes because voters should not have to deal with this, but should have free access to the polls without interference.
- He said that after the Judge found probable cause for the crimes it was out of his hands and he was thereafter only a witness.
- He concluded that he stood by what he had done and would do it again.
The committee entered Executive Session at 7.40 p.m.