Housing will honor legacy of councilman

Complex will be named for Jack Maher, supporter
of seniors, rent control

By sue m. morgan
Staff Writer

Complex will be named for Jack Maher, supporter
of seniors, rent control
By sue m. morgan
Staff Writer

OLD BRIDGE — It was a long time coming, but the township’s housing authority will finally get to break ground on a 100-unit age-restricted housing complex next to Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Old Bridge division now that the Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved the final site plan.

Several housing authority commissioners in attendance exuberantly celebrated their victory after Thursday night’s unanimous approval of the plans for the four-story structure, as submitted jointly by the authority and its designated developer, Pennrose Properties Inc. of Philadelphia.

Housing authority Chairwoman Mary Ann Gurliaccio spoke to the board following the decision and thanked members for recognizing the township’s growing need for affordable senior housing.

"Affordable housing is important to this town and especially to our seniors, who live on limited incomes," Gurliaccio said.

Eighty percent of the authority’s clients are senior citizens, she pointed out.

The complex will be called Maher Manor in honor of the late Democratic councilman, John "Jack" Maher, an advocate of affordable housing for the township’s seniors and persons on limited incomes, according to James T. Phillips, a housing commissioner and mayoral candidate.

Maher, who died in December 1988, served six years on the council and was the governing body’s liaison to the township’s rent stabilization board.

Maher’s son, Councilman Dennis Maher, represented the late councilman’s family as a witness to the board approval.

"This is a great day for Old Bridge and a great day for our senior citizens," said a visibly moved Dennis Maher.

The approved plans call for the building to be constructed on a 15-acre parcel off Route 18 near Ferry Road, to the west of the hospital.

The building would consist of two residential wings and a circular lobby/common area centered between them and serving as the point of entry, according to designer Mary Johannessen, a partner with Kitchen and Associates Architectural Services of Philadelphia.

When completed, the building will also hold the housing authority’s offices in a self-contained area, plans show.

Primary access to the complex will be via a driveway from northbound Route 18, according to William F. Nero of French & Parrello Associates, of Holmdel, the project’s consulting engineer.

Monthly rents are expected to be in the range of $500, according to Gurliaccio and authority attorney W. Lane Miller.Ground will be broken for the complex later this spring, Gurliaccio noted.

Patrick Gillespie, the authority’s vice-chairman, acknowledged the efforts of past and present commissioners as well as the cooperation of the Township Council in bringing the complex to its present point.

The Township Council sold the property, the former site of a gas station, to the housing authority for $600,000 in 2000.

In the meantime, Dennis Maher thanked the authority for choosing to name the new building in his father’s honor.

"My father was a councilman respected by members of both parties. He was a champion for senior citizens and residents on a fixed income," Maher recalled.

Jack Maher often locked horns with the landlords of the township’s numerous apartment complexes whenever they wanted to impose rent increases upon financially strapped tenants, Dennis Maher explained.

"I thank the housing authority for bestowing this honor on my father and keeping up his legacy," he concluded.