Officials react to rail line meeting with Monmouth Residents in the neighboring county come out against MOM plan

Officials react
to rail line
meeting with Monmouth
Residents in the
neighboring county come out against MOM plan

By nicole c. vaccaro

More than 200 people from five towns attended a meeting in Howell Township on Thursday night to voice their opposition to the proposed Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex (MOM) passenger rail line.

The line, which would begin in Ocean County and end in the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick on NJ Transit’s Northeast Corridor line, was recently approved as a priority for federal funding under the state’s Circle of Mobility bill.

State Senate President Donald DiFrancesco signed the legislation on July 11 in Gov. Christine Whitman’s absence.

The Concerned Citizens of Central Jersey Opposed to the Commuter Train originated in Howell; however, it now encompasses members from Monroe Township, Jamesburg, South Brunswick, and Englishtown as well.

Thursday’s meeting, which was orchestrated by the Howell group, included not only troubled residents, but also local elected officials and state Assembly representatives attending on behalf of Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein and Assemblyman Gary Guear (both D-14).

"It was good to see Monmouth County opposition, despite what the press has speculated," said Jamesburg Borough Council President Tony LaMantia. "It’s evident now that we’re not the only county who feels this line is a bad idea and that might help add credibility to our arguments."

Monroe Township Councilman Irwin Nalitt agreed with Lamantia.

"Everyone at that meeting was very enthusiastic and cooperative," Nalitt said. "We left there extremely hopeful that, together, we’ll be able to slow this thing down."

Nalitt also said that the group plans to continue e-mailing, writing letters, and petitioning the governor, state legislators, senators and congressmen for a change of heart.

"Congress is going to have to cast [its] vote for this disaster eventually, and we are going to do everything we can to open their eyes to the safety hazards and astronomical costs associated with it," he added.

Concerned Citizens is trying to organize another meeting for next month in one of the other opposing towns in an attempt to spread the message to as many people as possible.

In the meantime, Howell and Englishtown residents say they will try to persuade members of their governing body to pass resolutions in opposition of the line, much like Monroe Township has done.

They will also start a petition in each of the five communities, which they would like to send to Trenton in the near future.