Dear Highlands Voter,
I do not participate in Facebook but friends have sent me two entries and I feel compelled to respond. One is a compilation of Rick O’Neil’s experience, achievements, and quality of life improvements and the other was answers to questions from Linda Snyder. As a avid attendee at council meetings for over 20 years all observations are my own from personal experience.
None of these things could have been done alone by Rick and mostly he did not initiate the tasks. They were usually initiated because of resident requests or other Council members suggestions. Any one who knows how towns operate should know this. I would like to particularly address the sewer infiltration repairs. I was member of the sewer authority at the time and Rick refused to even attend a meeting we arranged to address the infiltration, offer a solution to the problem and a grant to the Borough to help fix the problem. So Highlands went years without the grant while Atlantic Highlands complied and received several grants. Finally the authority took it upon itself to award the basin 8 sewer relining grant but I think it was after Rick’s term of office as Mayor.
The skate park was built for about 2 families whose boys were interested in skate boarding. It cost approximately $75,000 and those boys refused to use it because they didn’t want to comply with the rules. Over the years it was virtually unused by the youth in Highlands.
To take credit for the funding of projects is totally irresponsible. if you look at them you will see that he is taking responsibility for the paving of county roads (particularly Linden and Bay Ave,) that the county owns and always takes care of and repairs when necessary. All of the other funds are a result of council members and advisors not Rick acquiring them by himself.
Quality of Life Improvements: Most of the items in this section were initiated by residents or the BID and he had very little input in them.
The questions from Ms. Snyder:
I love his qualification that he heard people out “most of the time” he had no choice as it was mostly at the public portion of council meetings but even then when he got tired of listening or just decided he didn’t want to hear any more he would shut them down.
The entire passage about the lack of communication is farcical. The embarrassment and disappointment of the litigation over appointments was exactly what he and Mr. Nolan did when Anna Little was the mayor and was in full compliance with our local ordinances. Honest communication is a critical part of town government but he doesn’t need to start it because it is already been started through the present council taping or streaming the Council meetings. As a matter of fact a wife of one of the attendees disagreed with her husband’s statement at a meeting (she was watching at home) so she came right down to the meeting to express her opinion.
If Rick was interested enough to attend or watch the council meetings before the last two months he would know that in the Linden Avenue situation he would have heard the question asked and the Police Chief respond that they were not given sufficient notice by the contractor to notify the public. Rick needn’t blame the Freeholders because I think it was our water lines that were being repaired.
Taxes: The current Council did not give you a big tax increase. The budget is voted on near the end of the year and the current Council (that Rick is blaming) only took office in January therefore the previous Council of Ryan, Redmond, Kane and Nolan gave you this tax increase and Rick should have known this because of his past history on Council. He doesn’t mention that the current Freeholders have delivered the largest property tax cut in Monmouth County history.
The development of the Shadow Lawn property was held up because a resident years ago took the officials to court and won thereby stopping the project because the Council did not do their due diligence in following the course of the application. The present Council had nothing to do with it.
The rest of the questions and answers are already in progress so I shall not address them.