BUY IN BRICK PROGRAM WELCOMES NEW BUSINESSES

Mayor John G. Ducey is proud to announce the addition of three more businesses to the Buy In Brick Property Tax Rewards Card Program. The new businesses are Angelo’s Market, Patagonia’s BBQ and Custom Request. The addition of these businesses brings the total number of businesses currently participating in the program to 48.

“Buy In Brick is a win-win for the community. It gives residents the chance to lower the amount they pay in property taxes and encourages people to shop locally, which helps the small businesses in town,” said Mayor Ducey. “Adding businesses to the program gives residents even more opportunities to earn rebates and more incentive to support our local businesses.”

Angelo’s Market is located at 515 Brick Boulevard (in the location of the former Top Tomato). They are offering cardholders a rebate of 3% and will be accepting cards in the coming weeks.

Patagonia’s BBQ is family-owned and operated business located in the same plaza as Angelo’s Market. They specialize in Argentinian steaks and cuisine and offer a variety of meats, chicken and seafood as well as empanadas and other food. They are offering a rebate of 10% to cardholders.

Custom Request is a website-design firm located at 270 Drum Point Road. They specialize in social media, pay per call leads, search engine optimization and computer needs. They are offering a rebate of 20% on purchases over $100.

These businesses join recent additions Playa Bowls, Philly’s Cuts and Light Concept Nails.

The Buy In Brick Property Tax Rewards Program is an initiative started in 2014 by Mayor Ducey and the Township Council to provide residents with the opportunity to earn property tax credits by shopping and dining at local businesses. Residents can obtain a free Buy In Brick card that can be presented at participating businesses. When the card is used, a rebate is automatically applied to that person’s property taxes. The cumulative rebates earned throughout the year will be applied to the cardholder’s third quarter property taxes.

As of this spring, rebates have been applied to more than $1,600,000 in transactions with Buy In Brick cardholders resulting in more than $116,000 in property tax rebates.

For more information on Buy In Brick, including how to get a card, please call 732-451-4007 or visit the township website at www.bricktownship.net. If you are a Brick Township business owner and would like information on how to join the program and benefits of the program including advertising and promotion, please call 732-451-4007 or email dsirota@bricktownship.net.

AGREEMENT REACHED ON FUTURE OF FOODTOWN PROPERTY

Mayor John G. Ducey is proud to announce that the Township of Brick has reached an agreement on the future of the Foodtown Property.  The agreement divides the property into two parcels, with one slated to be  the future home of a privately developed and operated indoor recreation center and the other being for retail development.  This agreement ensures that no residential units will be built on the site.

“This is an exciting and momentous occasion.  The future of this property has been uncertain since the Township purchased it fourteen years ago,” said Mayor Ducey.  “By reaching this agreement, we are finally moving towards the ultimate goal of having this commercial property developed privately and generating tax revenues for the township.”

This agreement is the result of good-faith negotiations with M&M at Route 70, LLC, the firm that was chosen by the previous Council to redevelop the property.  Mayor Ducey terminated M&M’s agreement in late 2014.  M&M later sued the Township.  Following a court hearing, the sides entered negotiations and ultimately reached an agreement that was satisfactory to both sides.

The Township will receive $5 million for the sale of the property with the two developers paying $2.5 million each.  All of the costs for developing the site and constructing all improvements will be paid by the redevelopers and not by the township.  Mayor Ducey said that putting the property back on the tax rolls was a top priority for his administration.

The agreement divides the property into two parcels.  M&M will be designated as the redeveloper for the front parcel.  That will include three retail pads.  The second parcel will be developed as a privately-built and operated indoor recreation center by HFZ Brick, LLC.

“An indoor recreation center has been on this community’s wish list for a long time.  There have been close calls and broken promises on that front,” said Mayor Ducey.  “This agreement puts the town on course to finally have a recreation center.”

The recreation center will include indoor fields for soccer, lacrosse, flag football and other sports.  It will also include basketball courts as well as various rooms for birthday parties, dance and yoga studios and other activities based on residential input.

Having the property privately developed was a priority for Mayor Ducey.  “The Township should not be the in the real estate business and the property should never have been purchased.  It was not pristine land; it was a developed site.  The potential costs for the township to develop this site or create a park would create a substantial burden for taxpayers and that is not something I would do.”

The agreement also brings to halt the legal procedures that could have stalled movement on the site for years to come.  “It was important to reach an agreement and take the future of the property out of the hands of the courts,” said Mayor Ducey.  “Not only could this have taken years, it could have resulted in the courts approving something we did not want on the site, namely residential units.  As such I want to thank and commend everyone who worked to come to this agreement.”

Mayor Ducey sites the more than $20 million it cost to acquire and redevelop the Traders Cove property as an example of the high cost of redevelopment.  “For that amount of money, the Township could have created a recreation and community center on the Foodtown site years ago,” said Mayor Ducey.  “That was not the choice that was made.”

The Township Council will vote on the resolution authorizing the agreement at their May 23 meeting.  Upon its authorization, the agreement will take effect immediately.

The Foodtown property was purchased by the Township in 2003 to stop the construction of a home improvement store.

GROUND BROKEN ON PARK RENOVATION

Mayor John Ducey was joined by Council members, township officials and residents to help break ground on the renovation of the Hank Waltonowski Park on Ashwood Drive in the Birchwood Park residential development today. This will be the fifth park renovated since Mayor Ducey took office in 2014.

“The residents of Birchwood Park have been waiting for a long time for their park to be renovated.  The Council and I are proud to officially get the start of the renovation underway,” said Mayor Ducey.  “We are greatly looking forward to cutting the ribbon on the new, safe, modern Hank Waltonoski Park this fall.”

The renovation of the park will include the installation of two playgrounds – one for ages 2-5 and one for ages 5-12, two basketball courts, a softball/baseball field, a walking trail, a picnic area with ADA compliant tables, bicycle rack, fencing and landscaping.

The cost of the renovation is $1,228,513.  The winning bid was submitted by Precise Construction of Freehold.  Precise Construction previously completed the Herberstville and Angela Hibbard Park renovations.  CME Associates designed the park and are serving as the consulting engineers on the project.  The Township has applied for Green Acres funding to offset the cost of this and other park projects.

The renovated park is expected to be open this fall.

The park was named in memory of Hank Waltonowski, a Brick Township Public Works employee who was killed in a work accident in 1996.

Later this year, the Township will break ground on the Bernard J. Cooke Park Renovation project with an expected completion time of spring 2018.  The Township plans on renovating Bayside Park on the Barrier Island in 2018.

Previous renovation projects include the Windward Beach playgrounds, Herbertsville Park (formerly Colorado Park), Lake Riviera Park and Angela Hibbard Park.

FARMERS’ MARKET RETURNS MAY 20; HOURS EXTENDED FOR 2017

Mayor John G. Ducey is pleased to announce that the Brick Farmers’ Market is officially returning on Saturday, May 20th from 9am-2pm. Due to popular demand the market’s hours will be extended two hours this year.

 “After last season, we listened to what residents were saying about the Farmers’ Market and how we could make it better,” explained Mayor Ducey. “The most popular answer was unequivocally to have longer hours, so the council and I made sure we gave that to the residents.”

 Mayor John Ducey, along with the Township Council, first introduced the Brick Farmers’ Market in May of 2015. Since then the market has grown to over 30 vendors and has become one of the most popular summer events that the township hosts.

 “The best thing about the market is that it brings people together and promotes the local economy,” said Mayor Ducey. “This is only our third year, but it’s grown incredibly in both size and popularity in that time.”

 

TOWNSHIP CREATES SAFE EXCHANGE ZONE AT MUNICIPAL BUILDING

The Township of Brick and the Brick Township Police Department have created a Safe Exchange Zone at the Municipal Building to provide residents with a place to complete online transactions and custody exchange. The Safe Exchange Zone is located in the rear of the Brick Township Municipal Building to the west of the entrance to the Police Department. The Zone will be under surveillance 24 hours a day.

“We are excited to provide this invaluable service to the resident of Brick Township. There has been a sharp increase in people using social media and the internet to sell and buy goods. The Safe Exchange Zone was created to provide anyone who is tentative or concerned about buying or selling goods with a safe place to complete their transactions,” said Mayor Ducey. “We certainly encourage anyone who has concerns to err on the side of caution and safety and use the Safe Exchange Zone.”

The Safe Exchange Zone consists of two clearly marked parking spots. The area is well-lit and under 24-hour a day surveillance. The Zone is free for anyone to use.

The Brick Township Police Department offers the following tips for anyone planning on using the Safe Exchange Zone:

  • Let a friend or family member know about the exchange meeting
  • Know who you are dealing with: Look into the seller’s background, either through a consumer protection agency such as the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, or through online feedback if you are shopping on a website like Ebay or Amazon. Get a phone number and physical mailing address.
  • Try to complete all transactions during daylight hours (if possible)
  • Never invite strangers to your home or agree to meet at their home
  • Do not agree to a transaction if the other party refuses to complete the exchange in the designated “Safe Exchange Zone
  • Police Department or Township employees will not act as a witness or be part of these transactions.
  • Remember to bring a cell phone in case of an emergency.

“The Safe Exchange Zone is another example of Chief Riccio and our Police Department keeping their fingers on the pulse of the community. As more people sell things on the internet, there will be more opportunities for people looking to take advantage. This Zone will reduce that risk,” said Mayor Ducey.

BRICK TOWNSHIP BEACH REPLENISHMENT TO START IN DECEMBER; MAYOR DISAPPOINTED WITH SCHEDULE

The Army Corps of Engineers have announced the construction schedule for long-awaited Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet Beachfill project that includes Brick Township’s oceanfront. At a pre-construction meeting held on March 17, representatives from the Army Corps, the NJDEP and the contractor, Weeks Marine, provided an overview of the construction project and the schedule. In Brick Township, construction is scheduled to start in December 2017 and go through March 2018.  While this means there will be no disruption to Brick Township’s beaches this summer, Mayor John G. Ducey is disappointed with the scheduling of the project.

“We are nearly five years removed from Sandy and the residents of Brick have been waiting for this project.  We have many people that voluntarily signed easements and have fully cooperated with the NJDEP and Army Corps,” said Mayor Ducey.  “It does not sit well that there are holdouts that will be replenished before the vulnerable beaches in Brick. Every storm the steel wall is exposed and takes more of a beating and ultimately will not last as long as predicted by the State.” The replenishment project will begin in Mantoloking in July, with Seaside Heights (September – October) and Seaside Park (October – December) to follow.

The winter start means that the Township will have no choice but to create and maintain safe beach access points throughout the summer season.  “Our staff has done a great job in providing residents with safe access to the ocean the past several years and we are confident that they will do a great job again this summer,” said Mayor Ducey.

The schedule for the replenishment is largely driven by where the sand is coming from.  There are four (4) approved borrow sites for the project and the distance from the beaches to the borrow sites determines what equipment is needed.  Brick Township’s section requires a hopper dredge and will be the second area done with this equipment.

While Mayor Ducey appreciates the logistical requirements of the project, he is disappointed that Brick Township will remain vulnerable until December.  “From a technical perspective, we understand the equipment needs and proximity to borrow sites, but to have communities on either side receiving sand and we are not receiving it until after the 2017 hurricane season makes no sense.”

Brick Township’s project will require 1.6 million cubic yards of sand.  When underway, the contractor will complete approximately 100 to 200 linear feet a day.  A buffer of 1,000 feet to the north and south will be closed to the public while the project is being done.

As part of the contract, crossovers will be constructed within two weeks of the placement of sand.

Mayor Ducey is looking forward to the completion of the project.  “Again, it has been almost five years since Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore.  This will be the fifth summer and the fifth hurricane season our residents will have endured without a fully replenished beach.  It is comforting to know it will be their last,” said the Mayor.

 

MAYOR’S BUDGET IN BRICK CUTS PROPERTY TAXES AND REDUCES SPENDING

Mayor John G. Ducey is presenting his 2017 spending plan and preliminary revenue projections to the Township Council on February 21. This year’s spending plan is $4,451,617 less than 2016 and calls for a reduction of ½ cent on the municipal tax rate.

“This year’s budget is the culmination of four years of strong fiscal management and responsible fiscal policies,” said Mayor Ducey. “We have created a culture of fiscal responsibility in town hall that has enabled us to slow the growth of municipal spending, reduce the township’s debt, stabilize the tax rate, rebuild the township’s surplus and make the financial health of Brick Township stronger than it has been in many years.”

Municipal spending in 2017 is expected to be $100,337,745. Over the past four years, the budget has grown 1.9%. In the previous four-year periods, the municipal budget increased 28% (2010-2013), 19% (2006-2009), 27% (2002 – 2005) and 24% (1998-2001). The average 4-year increase from 1990-2013 was 21.8%.

The current spending and revenue plans call for a municipal tax rate of 68.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. This is a decrease of ½ cent and will result in a reduction of $14.71 in municipal taxes for a home with an average assessment of $294,100.

Superstorm Sandy continues to impact the township’s budget. This year’s spending plan includes $1,484,000 in special emergency principal pay off for Sandy, equal to 1.44 cents on the tax rate. This is the township’s final payment for this cost. While the township’s ratable base increased by $18.66 million this year, it is still $341.7 million less than pre-Sandy levels.

The 2017 Budget includes $13,493,521 in debt service payments. The Township’s net debt as of January 1, 2017 is $151,310,134. The Township of Brick’s debt on January 1, 2014 when Mayor Ducey began his term was $168,335,337. At the end of this year, Mayor Ducey’s net debt reduction plan will have succeeded in reducing the township’s debt by $18,293,203.

“One of my top fiscal priorities was to reduce the township’s debt. Debt had ballooned from $82 million in 2004 to $168 million by the end of 2013. We knew that reducing the township’s debt was necessary if we wanted to restore Brick Township’s fiscal health,” said Mayor Ducey. “We were able to do this while still continuing to address the needs of our community and fund important infrastructure projects.”

The current revenue plan utilizes $10,928,024 from surplus. This leaves the township with a surplus balance of $10,955,587, the highest dollar amount since at least 1993. The balance represents 10.92% of the budget, the highest amount since 1994.

“The surplus is essentially the township’s savings account. Having a healthy surplus available is a sign of fiscal responsibility and strength,” said Mayor Ducey. “There were several years where the township had less than $100,000 remaining in surplus, which put us in a very precarious position financially speaking. I am proud that we have been able to correct this.”

From 2008 – 2010, the Township maintained an average surplus balance of $59,681. Over Mayor Ducey’s four budgets, the Township has maintained an average surplus balance of $8,596,987, the highest four-year average in the township’s history.

The township’s debt reduction and healthy surplus has led to an Aa2 rating from Moody’s Investors Services and an upgrade from an AA- to an AA rating from Standard and Poor’s. These ratings are used to inform investors about the township’s creditworthiness. These are among the highest ratings these services offer and tell investors that the township is a high-quality, low-risk investment. This can result in lower borrowing costs for the township.

Mayor Ducey credits the Council and the municipal staff for their efforts to improve Brick Township’s financial standing. “When I took the oath of Mayor, I made bringing fiscal discipline one of my goals. That would not have been possible without the Council and staff buying in to that mindset and everyone working together to achieve that goal. I am grateful for their work and proud of what we have done and we will continue to work to make Brick Township a better, safer and more affordable community.”

TOWNSHIP WINS SHOWCASE AWARD FOR RECREATION GUIDE

Mayor John G. Ducey was on hand to accept the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association’s Agency Showcase Award for the Brick Township Recreation Department’s 2016-2017 Program Guide last night in Atlantic City. The Award was given at the Association’s Annual Conference.

“The Brick Recreation Department is one of, if not the, finest in the State. Every year, we work to put together a guide that is informative and a representative of our Recreation Department’s great work and our commitment to recreation,” said Mayor Ducey. “This award shows that we were successful in doing just that.”

Every year, the Township publishes a comprehensive guide to all of the Recreation Department’s programs, events and activities. It is an important resource for residents who wish to learn what is available to them and how to participate.

The 2016-2017 Program Guide was a collaborative effort between the Recreation Department and the Township Public Information Office. The Recreation Department compiles all the information and the layout and design is done by the Information Office. The Township’s Public Information Officer, Ed Moroney, worked with Recreation Director Dan Santaniello and Business Administrator Joanne Bergin to develop the theme of the guide.

“I want to congratulate everyone involved in the Recreation Department Program Guide for winning the award. We have a great team in Brick Township and this award is testament to their hard work,” said Mayor Ducey. “I also want to thank the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association for recognizing their work.”

As the layout and design was done in-house, the only cost to the Township was for printing and delivery of the guide. That cost was $3,968 for 12,000 copies. The Township reached out to the local business community to seek sponsorships to offset the cost of printing the guide and was successful in securing $3,400 in sponsorships. The net cost to the township for the guide was $568 – less than 5 cents per printed guide.

The guide was printed and delivered by Evergreen Printing of Bellmawr, NJ.

The Public Information Office and the Recreation Department are currently working on the 2017-2018 Program Guide which will be available in April.

The New Jersey Recreation and Park Association (NJRPA) is dedicated to enhancing the lives of all New Jersey residents by supporting outstanding park, recreation, and natural resources management programs.  Since 1928, the efforts initiated by NJRPA and its membership have resulted in tangible benefits for communities throughout the state.