Residents shut out in deciding future of towns

There is a pattern of behavior embraced by many local, county and state officials which every citizen should be wary of and on guard against.

The situation regarding eminent domain in Long Branch and Keyport, the Highlands Bridge and the Sea Bright corridor are the fruits of a dangerous culture in government which has been allowed to evolve in recent years.

A new culture of public service has developed, where the needs, the wants, opinions and the participation of the citizens in deciding important issues of their town and boroughs, have been systematically minimized by officials and bureaucrats.

No longer is service to the citizens the foundation of the public trust, but rather citizens and taxpayers are seen as obstacles to “progress.” When citizens speak up and question officials, they seem to be generally regarded as an annoyance, a hindrance, to the ill-conceived agendas advanced by municipal, county and state planners who see the future in “smart growth” which is not smart at all.

Looking at the plans for the destruction of a landmark bridge at Highlands, which includes the creation of a high-speed traffic corridor along the north Jersey Shore through Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach to Long Branch, the veil of this new government culture, built upon a general contempt for citizen participation, couldn’t be clearer.

Instead of rallying together, the local borough councils in Highlands, Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach seem to be either paralyzed or uninterested, except for those few brave council members who aren’t afraid to take on the people’s fight.

As is always the case, our elected officials become the spectators while the people fight for the character of their neighborhoods and towns against the megalith of state government bureaucrats. Not once have I read of any county or state elected official taking a stand on the side of the people in these matters so important to the towns of Highlands, Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach. Where is our congressman? He has, in the past, championed the issues concerning our quality of life and yet is silent now.

Those few local officials who have spoken out, and those citizens who are collecting encouragement and support street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, deserve more than what they have been afforded by the officials who are sworn to serve their interests.

They deserve our full support and I plan to stand with them. How about you?

J. T. White