Earlier this month, the joint New Jersey Assembly passed a bill to amend a statue governing the board in charge of Fort Monmouth's redevelopment. The change allows the mayors of the boroughs of , Oceanport and , as members of the , to each designate a council member of their town to represent them at authority meetings and act on their behalf.
The previous law limited the power of the three mayors and other ex officio members of the authority to designate only an employee of the member's department or office to represent them at meetings of the authority where the designee may act on their behalf.
This legislation could be particularly important as the moves forward and the potential for tension between state and local members of the board increases. The redevelopment and reuse plan designed by the authority's predecessor , was created in 2007-2008 under vastly different economic circumstances. FMERA repas have hinted that this may require changes to the plan, calling it a "guideline." However, major changes will require a super majority vote of the board. Having a local elected official acting on behalf of the mayor could help ensure that the town's wishes, and the resuse plan, are carried out.
Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, one of the bill's sponsors, said in a press release, "It is critical that representatives of these towns be allowed to provide input in order to ensure the voices of residents are heard as a centerpiece of Monmouth County is reshaped. One of FMERA’s primary challenges is to generate commerce and create jobs while preserving the character of these beautiful and unique communities. It makes perfect sense to allow the mayors of towns who are part of the authority to designate someone who knows their community and can speak on behalf of its taxpayers when a mayor cannot make a meeting.”
In an e-mail to Patch, Oceanport Mayor Michael Mahon said that the designee would be determined on an as-needed basis by the mayor.
"My preference if choosing a member of the governing body is the council president," Mahon said, "as the normal alternate in the absence of the mayor. Depending on the situation, the designee I have used to date is the borough administrator."
Oceanport's current council president is Jerry Bertekap.
Mayor Michael Skudera said in an e-mail that his council president, Gary Baldwin, "had been interested (in the position) even last year and often comes to FMERA meetings as an audience member."
Gerald Tarantolo of selected his council president, Anthony Talerico Jr.
Declan O'Scanlon, the other assembly sponsor of the bill, called the bill "common sense" and said it would provide the flexibility that the elected officials need. “A mayor’s schedule is quite demanding," O'Scanlon said. "Town council representatives have their finger on the pulse of their community and are quite capable of providing input on important issues surrounding the fort’s redevelopment.”
The companion senate legislation was sponsored senators Jennifer Beck and Sean Kane.