Candidates stick to the issues in council contest

All three have lengthy history of volunteering their time in Oceanport

By carolyn o

By carolyn o’connell
Staff Writer

OCEANPORT — With the campaign turning toward the final stretch, the race for Borough Council is heating up.

Incumbent Democrats Gary E. Wolfe and Philip D. Apruzzi are challenged by newcomer Republican Ellen Kahle.

Wolfe and Apruzzi are running on their record of accomplishments accumulated over the years they have served on council and in community committees.

Kahle, having served six years on the Board of Education, is basing her campaign on what she can do for the borough in the future.

Wolfe has served 15 years on the council, and Apruzzi has been in his post for 11 years, and they maintain they will continue to preserve the quality of life in the borough.

"People desire to live here because of the good schools, a financially responsible government, stable taxes and open space," said Apruzzi.

Wolfe added, "The goal is to maintain the quality of services the borough enjoys, such as garbage pick-up, snowplowing, leaf pick-up and the maintenance of the borough’s parks."

The way the services are funded is what their opponent, Kahle, has said could be done differently.

She said that she supports sharing services with surrounding towns which would realize the borough a cost savings. Kahle noted that garbage services could cost the borough an increase of 1.8 cents because the contractor went bankrupt.

"No local town in the area does that," said Wolfe. "They either do it on their own or they hire an outside contractor.

Apruzzi added that the council had evaluated the possibility of sharing court services with Monmouth Beach. But the result of that analysis identified a higher cost for the services for the borough.

Kahle is focusing on the efficiency of the public works department.

Kahle said during her door-to-door campaign that the conditions of the roads in town are still the height of concern for citizens.

However, Wolfe and Apruzzi contend that within the last four years they have secured $2,590,000 in grants to repair eight roads, as well as purchase 43 acres from the N.J. Sports Authority known as the soccer fields.

The recreational fields and how to spend funding to improve them also has surfaced as a concern for citizens.

Kahle said the borough’s department of public works is overtaxed which leaves little time for the recreational fields, especially those in Blackberry Bay Park.

According to Kahle, the fields are dangerous to kids.

A solution suggested Kahle would be to outsource some of Public Works’ responsibility such as cutting grass and landscaping.

That solution to Wolfe and Apruzzi is ludicrous. "We will take her to task on that idea anytime," said Apruzzi.

What would we do with the six men employed by the borough for the remainder of the year? The DPW multitasks and runs efficiently," he said.

Kahle maintains that the borough public works is understaffed and overburdened. One of the problems is that public works does not pick up the leaves in a timely manner. The result is that the leaves fall into the drain causing improper drainage.

"As far as I know, the town does not have a schedule to clean the drains," she said.

Wolfe added that the department owns all of its equipment keeping the costs low.

Disputing his opponent’s assertion that the fields are in disarray, Wolfe noted he is a state certified referee for traveling soccer teams and inspects the fields to make sure they are not dangerous. "The fields are in excellent playing conditions," he said.

Could there be room for improvement? Apruzzi said yes, and that is the purpose of applying for the grants to improve Blackberry Bay Park and Sommers Park.

To put it into perspective, Apruzzi explained that the borough’s fields are used by eight surrounding towns.

Wolfe added that the games are held Saturday and practices five days a week. The grant of $250,000 will pay for an irrigation system as well as other improvements to better maintain the grass.

"I’m not sure where our opponent is coming from," said Apruzzi. "She, [Kahle] in my 17 years of service as a member of the recreation committee, has never been a member nor has she volunteered any input on any meeting. It is a disservice to residents."

As for her claims that the west side of the borough needs representation, Apruzzi said, "we represent the entire town."

To illustrate that, he listed the projects that both he and Wolfe have fought for on the west side of the borough. Included in the list are the 98 acres in the borough which has now become Wolf Hill Recreation Area, a county park, the securing of funds to purchase the 43 acres of soccer fields, and the stopping of the construction of a crematorium.

"We did not see Kahle at the Planning Board meetings or council meetings speaking either in favor or opposition to any of these projects," said Apruzzi.

According to Kahle, she has been active in efforts to stop the crematorium, and has volunteered in community services through the PTO, Girl and Boy Scout groups, recreational sports as a team mother, and as a soccer coach.