BRICK – Heather deJong was named as the 2023 council president during the Reorganization Meeting held on January 3. deJong has been a council member since 2014 and serves as the chair of the Business and Finance Committee, is a member of the Recreation and Land Use Committees, is the council liaison to the Housing Authority, the Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor’s Senior Advisory Committee.
Andrea Zapcic was named council vice-president. Zapcic chairs the Recreation Committee, is a liaison to the Brick Municipal Anti-Drug Coalition (BMAC) and sits on the Public Safety as well as the Business and Finance Committees.
Mayor John G. Ducey presented former councilman Art Halloran with a key to the city and a proclamation that declared January 4, 2023 as Art Halloran Day.
Halloran, who was elected in 2015, was a council member until September 2022 when he resigned due to some life changes. Halloran was instrumental in helping the township recover in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
He served on the Land Use Committee, the Planning Board and on the Flood Plain management team, the mayor said.
“He always had the common sense approach, the businessman approach, he was just the perfect councilman,” Mayor Ducey said. “Brick Township definitely misses you.”
During Mayor’s Comments, Ducey noted that this is his tenth year as mayor and said he wanted to take a look back at the past decade.
His first year as mayor was filled with Sandy recovery, and he was tasked with staffing Building Department inspectors which was important to have in place because of all the rebuilding that was going on, he said.
“We had many parks that were in disrepair, and I’m grateful to have overseen the renovation of Windward Beach, Herbertsville Park, Lake Riviera Park, Angela Hibbard Park, Hank Waltonowski Park, Bernie Cooke Park, Forge Pond tennis courts, Bay Harbor Beach Park, Bayside Park and the Drum Point turf field,” he said.
The heroin epidemic was at its height in 2016-2017, and the overdose rate has been brought down due to the expansion of the township police department under Chief James Riccio, who is a “great proponent of community policing,” the mayor said.
The police chief used a three-pronged approach of education, enforcement and rehabilitation to help with the crisis, Mayor Ducey said.
On the business front, 2017 saw the demise of several big box stores, including Pathmark, A&P and Sports Authority. The mayor said his administration placed an emphasis on filling those large empty spaces as well as numerous empty stores in strip malls.
“It ended up being a success story as we were the first town in New Jersey to implement the Empty Storefronts Program…which has filled over nine football fields worth of empty storefronts in town,” Mayor Ducey said. (The program waives permit fees for spaces that are less than 5,000 square feet and have been empty for more than a year).
COVID created a “new normal,” the mayor said, with 60 township employees accepting furloughs to lessen the financial burden and everyone having to adapt to moving many of the activities of the Recreation Department and Senior Services online.
The council approved numerous appointments and professional contracts during the reorganization meeting, which included members on the Board of Adjustment, the Planning Board, the Property Maintenance Board, the Housing Authority Board and many more.
The mayor also touted the stable tax rate. “Since 2014, the municipal taxes have only gone up $47.11 a year for an average assessed home which currently stands at $299,900, and that is remarkable in these times.”
The 2023 council meeting dates were announced during the meeting, with the next meeting set for Tuesday, January 24 at 7 p.m.