Free trees available to celebrate Arbor Day

The New Jersey Tree Foundation is offering free 2-year-old trees (1 to 2 feet tall) to celebrate Arbor Day 2010 in New Jersey.

Schools, local governments, tree groups, nonprofit organizations, Scout groups, and any volunteer organization may apply for the free trees. All planting must occur on public lands, be done by volunteers and maintained for two years.

A variety of evergreen and deciduous trees will be available. For further information or to request an application, email Lisa Simms at or download an application from www.newjerseytreefoundation. org/FreeTrees.asp. The deadline for application materials is Feb. 26.

In 12 years, the New Jersey Tree Foundation’s Celebrate Arbor Day! program has planted more than 110,000 trees in parks, schools, and public spaces across New Jersey, according to a press release.

There are many ways the trees can be used to beautify a neighborhood. Trees can be planted in a vacant lot to create an urban forest, planted as a windbreak for a community garden or at a school, planted in a nursery, or trees can be planted randomly throughout a park, school or cemetery.

The New Jersey Tree Foundation is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion, enhancement and development of urban and community forestry activities in New Jersey through education, volunteerism, community outreach, partnerships, and grants.

The New Jersey Tree Foundation is committed to providing exceptional forestry programs, services and opportunities to New Jersey’s cities and towns, according to the press release.

Marlboro will seek funds for assessment of parcel


MARLBORO — The Township Council has passed a resolution to seek funds from the state in order to perform an environmental assessment of property that municipal officials intend to acquire.

The resolution authorizes the township to submit an application to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for money from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund.

The funds, if received, will be used to perform an environmental assessment and investigation at the former state correctional facility at 88 Conover Road.

The correctional facility operated as a farm and labor was performed by individuals who were under the supervision of Department of Corrections employees.

According to the resolution passed by the council on Dec. 17, the township intends to purchase the Conover Road property by voluntary conveyance with funds acquired from the state’s Green Acres open space program for open space and recreational purposes.

The council has determined that there has been, or it suspects there has been, a discharge of hazardous substances or hazardous waste at the site, according to the resolution.

The money being applied for from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund would be used to determine the extent and existence of any hazardous substance or hazardous waste on the Conover Road tract.

The council’s resolution states that the township is committed to establishing the site for open space and recreational purposes and finds that a realistic opportunity exists for the establishment of the site for those purposes within a three-year period after the completion of the remediation of the property.

In other recent council action, the governing body adopted an ordinance which replaces Marlboro’s emergency water use restrictions with water conservation regulations, and replaces conservation requirements with water emergency regulations and swimming pool regulations.

The aim of the action is water conservation, according to the council members.

According to an ordinance summary, the law suggests recommended indoor water conservation measures, imposes outdoor water conservation requirements which are to be adhered to at all times when there is no declared water emergency, and reminds all property owners that all automatic lawn sprinkler systems installed after Sept. 8, 2000 must have automatic rain sensor devices or switches which override the irrigation cycle when there has been adequate rainfall.

The ordinance also adopts procedures for the imposition of a water emergency by the council upon the recommendation of the township engineer and authorizes water use restrictions when a water emergency has been declared.

The ordinance also adopts regulations to be followed in connection with the filling or re-filling of swimming pools in Marlboro.

The ordinance is No. 2009-44. Council President Steve Rosenthal and council members Frank LaRocca, Randi Marder and Rosa Tragni voted to adopt the ordinance. Councilman Jeff Cantor was not present at the council’s Dec. 10 meeting at which the ordinance was adopted.

Former NFL lineman will speak at Chabad

Alan Veingrad Alan Veingrad MANALAPAN — Former Englishtown resident and professional football player Alan Veingrad will return to Manalapan to a pre-playoff breakfast at Chabad of Western Monmouth County, 26 Wickatunk Road, on Jan. 24 at 10 a.m.

Veingrad will share his journey and vividly relate the discipline of being a professional football player to the process of becoming a successful family man and businessman, as well as an observant Jew. Veingrad, a former NFL offensive lineman, played in 86 games over seven seasons of professional football.

He played for two of the NFL’s marquee teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, winning a Super Bowl ring with the latter in 1992.

Now, Veingrad travels North America spreading the word about his decision to lead a life dedicated to being an observant Jew, according to a press release from Chabad. His presentations bring audiences laughter, inspiration and insights into life and business.

Alan Veingrad in his playing days with the Green Bay Packers. Alan Veingrad in his playing days with the Green Bay Packers. Veingrad describes how the discipline of being a pro football player led him to the process of becoming an observant Jew.

He provides accounts of the intense training and performance requirements of professional football life, relaying his personal breakthroughs and accomplishments during his five years with the Green Bay Packers and two years playing for coach Jimmy Johnson and the Dallas Cowboys alongside quarterback Troy Aikman and running back Emmitt Smith.

How does a nice Jewish boy from Englishtown win a Super Bowl ring with the Dallas Cowboys? Hear the many surprising twists in Alan “Shlomo” Veingrad’s journey.

From East Texas State University, to the Green Bay Packers, to a Super Bowl championship in Dallas, his is a story of Jewish pride in places some people would least expect to find it.

Veingrad has been selected for induction into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, class of 2010, during a ceremony that will take place at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center in Commack, N.Y., in April.

Reservations for the Jan. 24 Chabad event are due by Jan. 18. Call 732-972-3687 for more information. Tickets are $10 and sponsorships and perks are available.

Group raising funds to upgrade diamond


COLTS NECK — The baseball community of Colts Neck is coming together to update a baseball diamond with a new synthetic turf surface.

Colts Neck native Kevin Condon said he noticed that the fields his children play baseball on have not been improved since the days he played on them as a youngster.

Current field conditions, which at some places are uneven, have prompted parents to come together to raise funds that will pay for the installation of a synthetic turf infield at one of the Laird Road recreation area’s 46/60 baseball fields.

The field’s 46/60 designation refers to the pitcher’s mound which is 46 feet from home plate and the 60-foot distance between the bases.

Condon spearheaded the 200 Club, which sought 200 members to donate $200 each. The $40,000 collected will go directly to the capital improvement and maintenance projects on Colts Neck’s fields.

The township is the owner of the fields, but the Colts Neck Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides youth sports programs, uses the fields by permit and agreed to cooperate and assist Condon with his goal of making improvements.

The first project planned is the turf field.

He said that having played on other synthetic turf fields throughout the area, it became clear the synthetic turf would be a significant improvement over a natural grass field.

With a natural grass field there is always work to be done, Condon said. Volunteers who coach the baseball teams were spending their time before practice and games raking, cutting and lining the grass fields in order to have them ready for games.

“If you had a 9 a.m. game, as a coach, I was getting there at 7 a.m.,” Condon said of the time required to prepare the grass field.

The synthetic turf will require only minimal maintenance and will keep a consistent playing quality on the field. Condon said a synthetic turf field will be able to accommodate more use than a grass field and he said the synthetic turf field can be played on during rain.

The idea to have the participants pitch in to help bring about the improvements came from Condon’s days of playing baseball at Fordham University. Condon explained that the team pitched in to help clean up and repair its fields.

“You take a lot of pride in your field and you’ll play a little bit better,” Condon said of having the community be responsible for the upgrades.

He said some individuals suggested finding one main sponsor to donate the necessary funds for the synthetic turf field project, but Condon said he thought it would be best to have everyone contribute a little toward the goal.

“That’s (having one sponsor) not the spirit of this. The people who are going to play on it, the kids who are going to enjoy it and the parents

who are going to come and see their children play, get them involved and they will feel a piece of it,” he said.

Condon said the fundraising effort to support the installation of the synthetic turf field will not necessitate taking any money from the Colts Neck Sports Foundation’s general fund or from the municipality.

Individuals from around Colts Neck have already volunteered time and equipment to do the necessary excavation work at the Laird Road site. Condon expects the synthetic turf field project to start sometime in mid-February.

With the project only calling for the placement of the synthetic turf in the infield, Condon said cost estimates fall in the range of $40,000.

He explained that with a limited number of playing areas in Colts Neck, doing a complete field revamp would likely result in the loss of a field for an entire season and that is why only the infield at this specific Laird Road field is the main focus at this time.

At the end of 2009, Condon said, there were 45 members of the 200 Club who had already sent in a contribution. He anticipated another 100 people who had pledged their support.

For more information about the Colts Neck synthetic turf field project, individuals may send an email to Condon at kcondon@

Once the synthetic turf infield is complete, Condon and other people associated with the 200 Club are hoping that other improvement projects will be undertaken, including work at the remaining fields.

Condon said with improved facilities he hopes to see Colts Neck have the ability to host tournaments which would help bring revenue back into the town’s sports programs.

County planning two new buildings in twp.


FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — The township is expected to be home to a new Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office building and a new 911 dispatch center in the near future.

The Freehold Township Planning Board reviewed both projects on Dec. 3 and directed its attorney to prepare a positive resolution for each application.

Attorney Megan Bennett Clark represented both projects. Clark introduced testimony from architect Robert DeSantis. The site plan was prepared by Birdsall Engineering.

Plans for the new 911 dispatch center call for the construction of a two-story, 33,436-square-foot building east of the Monmouth County social services building on Kozloski Road. The building will house all officials of the Office of Emergency Management and the dispatch center.

DeSantis said the dispatch center will be a secure building constructed for a functional use and not for the public.

In the second application that came before the board, the architectural plan for the new prosecutor’s office, prepared by Sonnenfeld and Trocchia Architects, Holmdel, calls for the construction of a four-story, 61,850-squre-foot building on vacant property at the corner of Jerseyville Avenue and Kondrup Way. The site is also bordered by Business Route 33.

An existing satellite office of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office on Jerseyville Avenue will be demolished and used for parking for the planned four-story building.

Richard Morales of T&M Associates, Middletown, said parking for more than 350 vehicles has been provided for the new building. Additional parking will be provided in a second phase of development, he said.

Relief is required by the applicant in building setbacks, floor area ratio, lot coverage and parking space size.

Board Chairman Richard Gatto expressed concern to Morales about traffic in the area of the new office building. He noted that employees who currently work in the prosecutor’s office at the Monmouth County Court House in Freehold Borough will be moving to the new office building on Jerseyville Avenue.

Morales said he is assessing the traffic situation. He explained that the state Department of Transportation will require a traffic study if an entrance to the planned office building is to be permitted on Route 33. There is an entrance from Route 33 planned for the new office building, he said.

Gatto noted that the Route 33 access has yet to be approved by the DOT.

Because the state Superior Court needs more space in the county courthouse, the employees who work in the prosecutor’s office on the third floor of the courthouse will be moved into a pre-engineered building that will be placed on the Jerseyville Avenue parcel prior to the construction of the new office building.

When the new building is finished in about two years, the staff will move into that building. The pre-engineered building will remain in use to store evidence and records, and to be used for forensics work.

Family trying to cope with loss of daughter

Fire claimed Kaylee Ramos, 12; surviving family members want to return to Freehold Borough


FREEHOLD — Home means different things to different people. To the Ramos family of Freehold Borough, which lost a daughter and sister, Kaylee, 12, in a house fire on Feb. 2, 2009, home means the sounds and memories of the past and the possibility of a hopeful future.

Friends are now trying to help Kaylee’s mother, Gina Ramos, and Kaylee’s sisters, Lacey, 17, Julianne, 12, and Gracie, 3, return to the Court Street home the family loved. In the wake of the fire, the home sits damaged, burned and silent, devoid of the laughter and dreams the Ramos family enjoyed.

In a letter written to the News Transcript in October, Kaylee’s family sought to describe the feeling of “home.”

“Although the lights in the house at 64 Court St. are out in Freehold Borough and the innocent laughter has been silenced, it is still a home that we miss very much. Even in its irreparable state, our perception of home is even more apparent.”

The letter goes on to say that “even though the walls are now burned, what [lay] behind those walls was a family, is a family, Kaylee’s family.”

The letter was written to publicly thank the many people from the area who reached out and offered food, clothing, gift cards and other items to the family after the fire forced them from their home.

Stacey Berlin, a family friend, said the Ramos family hopes to return to the home on Court Street in time for the holiday season in 2010.

“Gina and her three daughters have struggled to move forward,” Berlin said. “We are asking if any New Jersey companies can donate any supplies to help them to rebuild the home. Castle Windows has already come forward to donate windows.”

PJC Contractors, Staten Island, N.Y., has donated materials and services and its employees have already started working on the Court Street home.

Berlin said Ramos and her daughters “have struggled to move forward after losing their beloved Kaylee … and all of their belongings, including family pets and sacred memories.”

Since the fire Ramos and her daughters have been living with her mother and father, Renee and Stan Petner, in the area.

“They arrived there with only the clothes on their backs — the pajamas they were wearing when the deadly blaze erupted in the middle of the night,” Berlin said. “It is their greatest desire to return to where they were once a happy family of five, return to the home that Kaylee and her sisters filled with laughter, love and life. She has no money to rebuild it. On top of mourning the loss of her daughter, she must relinquish her own pain and suffering and find a way to bring her family home again.

“With a little bit of help from everyone, Gina and her daughters pray that someday they will be able to return home, where they can move forward with their lives as a family, and mourn the loss of a dearly loved daughter and sister,” Berlin said.

Renee Petner said the family is doing the best they can.

“This is a tough family. They try to hide their feelings a lot. I don’t know how she does it,” Petner said of her daughter. “If I had to pick a hero, she would be mine. I’m tough, but she’s got me beat by 1,000 percent.”

Petner said Ramos talks to her daughters about Kaylee and makes it a point to focus on celebrating Kaylee’s life, as well as the fact that the family must move on with their lives, although never underestimating the extent of how difficult and painful a task that is to do.

“There are things we have to do,” Petner said. “And we’ll see her (Kaylee) again. She remains in our lives and in our hearts every day.”

Petner thanked the individuals and businesses who have already come forward to help rebuild the home in Freehold Borough.

“This is the most wonderful thing in the world. They miss their home so much. Everything they owned was in there. Gina thought about not going back at all in the beginning, but then changed her mind,” Petner said.

She said Ramos told her daughters, “We need to do this for Kaylee.”

She said Ramos is writing a book which will include the letters she writes every day to Kaylee about everyday life in the family. The title of the book is “Love Mommy.”

“It’s a healing process,” Petner said.

She said Ramos is currently working to change or to strengthen safety laws regarding children and fires.

In a brief conversation with Ramos, she said, “Every day is bad. The family is doing the best that they can do. I do what I can to try to get things done, working on laws and trying to make a new law regarding the safety of children regarding fires. I have already contacted Governor-elect Chris Christie and he is looking over all the data I gave him. I don’t want to make just a local law. I want this to go national.”

Any individual who would like to make a monetary donations may do so by making out a check to “In Memory of Kaylee” and mailing it to “In Memory of Kaylee,” c/o Berlin, 100 Upper Louisville Avenue, Neptune, NJ 07753. For more information, call 732-536-4752.

Traffic impact given long look by board

Testimony to resume in Jan. on Marlboro Commons plan


MARLBORO — No decision has been reached and testimony on the proposed Marlboro Commons shopping center on Route 9 south at the Route 520 intersection is expected to resume at a Marlboro Planning Board meeting in January.

During the board’s Dec. 16 meeting, applicant Robert Pagano’s traffic engineer, Dan Disario, was cross-examined by attorneys representing two objectors to the plan and by members of the public.

If approved, Marlboro Commons would be built behind an existing PNC Bank on Route 9 just south of Route 520. The application proposes the construction of a 65,015- square-foot supermarket with an attached 51,500-squarefoot two-story retail building and a 1,000-square-foot retail building. A separate 14,742-square-foot building would also be built on the property.

The PNC Bank would remain at its current location on Route 9.

There have been no definite tenants for the proposed shopping center disclosed, but Walgreens pharmacy and a Whole Foods supermarket have been referenced during public hearings.

Attorney Scott Carlson, representing Marlboro Plaza Associates, a shopping center on Route 9 north across from the proposed Marlboro Commons development site, questioned Disario about points in the traffic engineer’s report.

Carlson questioned one reference to a possible 22-minute delay for vehicles turning left out of the nearby Lowes shopping plaza onto Route 520 eastbound during peak Saturday afternoon hours.

Disario explained that currently the turn has a 52-second delay, which is considered a failing standard, during that peak time. The traffic engineer said that due to the location’s already failing rating and the unsignalized turn (left out of Lowes onto Route 520), the calculations used to project traffic times become a bit cloudy.

He called the 22-minute delay an overestimate, stating that in his professional opinion the current delay would double at most, from 52 to 104 seconds.

Disario said that if traffic started backing up at the Lowes exit to Route 520, motorists would likely exit the Lowes shopping to Route 9 south.

Carlson presented a traffic engineer on behalf of Marlboro Plaza Associates. Engineer Paul Going stated that the counts used in Disario’s report were unacceptable because the numbers were more than 1 year old. Going also said there were no Automatic Traffic Recorder (ATR) traffic counts as required by the state Department of Transportation.

Going displayed a video simulation of the Route 9 and Route 520 intersection and what traffic is projected to look like if Marlboro Commons is built. He pointed out the long queue of cars that were projected to fill the jughandles on Route 9 north and Route 9 south.

As the simulation showed the build-up of cars, board members questioned the computer program’s accuracy when it was noticed that some cars in the simulation were not moving.

Questions were also raised after only a few of the simulated cars actually entered the proposed Marlboro Commons property,

with the majority going elsewhere when the presentation was supposed to display conditions with the shopping center’s traffic.

Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, who is representing the applicant, questioned Going as to whether a simulation was conducted

showing the current state of traffic to compare the two situations (with and without Marlboro Commons). Going said only a simulation that included Marlboro Commons was created.

When residents were given a chance to question the professionals, Maria Lehan, who lives on neighboring Serpentine Drive, asked about an additional right turn only lane that is proposed to be installed on eastbound Route 520 at the intersection with Route 9.

Previous testimony indicated that the applicant would widen Route 520 eastbound on the Marlboro Commons side of Route 9. Using the property bordering Route 520, an additional lane would be created to serve as a dedicated right turn lane to Route 9 south. Currently, Route 520 eastbound has two left turn lanes to Route 9 north and one lane to accommodate vehicles that are crossing Route 9 and continuing on Route 520 or turning right onto Route 9 south.

Lehan questioned how the dedicated right turn lane from Route 520 eastbound to Route 9 south would alleviate the traffic that already backs up to Serpentine Drive if most drivers do not turn right onto Route 9 south.

Disario said the right turn lane would move cars that are currently lined up in the other travel lanes, thus opening up the other lanes and shortening the length of the queue.

Other members of the public asked if the regular backups that occur on Route 9 north at Route 520 would ease with the proposed road improvements.

Disario said the addition of a third northbound lane at the intersection of Route 520 would help to ease the backups that drivers currently face.

According to the applicant’s proposal, the stretch of Route 9 north nearest to the subject property on Route 9 south would be widened to three lanes from the current two. The new lane would be created from the existing highway median.

All of the proposed highway improvements on Route 520 and Route 9 will need approval from Monmouth County and the state.

Resident Russell Reeves, who is a former member of the Planning Board, spoke about when the Marlboro Plaza application was approved by the board in the early 1980s.

Reeves explained that he cast the lone no vote on the Marlboro Plaza application and said he based his decision on his concerns about traffic in the area.

Reeves said that in his opinion the applicant who is proposing to build Marlboro Commons has done what the objector, Marlboro Plaza Associates, failed to do — it is planning to make road improvements which appear to help the traffic situation at this location.

A professional planner who is working with the Marlboro Commons applicant is expected to testify when the hearing resumes on Jan. 13.

In the Service

Coast Guard Seaman Lauren K. Pfeifer, daughter of Shirley and Scott Pfeifer of Freehold, recently graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Recruit Training Center in Cape May. During the eight-week training program, Pfeifer completed a training curriculum consisting of academics and practical instruction on water safety and survival, military customs and courtesies, seamanship skills, first aid, firefighting and marksmanship. A major emphasis is also placed on physical fitness, health and wellness. Pfeifer and other recruits also received instruction on the Coast Guard’s core values — honor, respect and devotion to duty — and how to apply them in their military performance and personal conduct. Pfeifer will join 36,000 other men and women who comprise the Coast Guard’s force. Pfeifer is a 2004 graduate of Red Bank Catholic High School, Red Bank, and a 2008 graduate of The College of New Jersey, Ewing, with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Officials approve change in retirement benefits plan


FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — Municipal officials have adopted an ordinance that will change the retirement package benefits for any employee who is hired by Freehold Township after Jan.1, 2010.

According to Township Administrator Thomas Antus, times have changed and the cost of offering paid lifetime medical benefits to retirees just too high.

“At one time we could offer it,” Antus said, “but this point the Township Committee feels it is no longer possible. If an employee retired after 25 years, we were paying his or her full-time medical benefits for life. Then we also had to pay someone to replace the person who retired and pay (the new employee’s) benefits, too. It has gotten progressively worse and worse. The committee says that taxpayers should no longer be burdened with the accrued costs, which can go on for generations.”

Antus said the new plan regarding retirement benefits will not affect individuals who were already working for Freehold Township.

The ordinance states, “The township will provide medical benefits upon eligibility for retirement to any elected, full-time or tenured employees who attained that status as an elected, full-time or tenured employee on or before Dec. 31, 2009.”

In other business at a recent meeting of the Township Committee, officials authorized a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for Regan Development-Kershaw Commons.

The developer is planning to construct 31 housing units, including 30 affordable housing units for people with special needs. The units will be in a two-story low-rise building. There will be one unit for the building superintendent.

The Township Committee has determined

that the Kershaw Commons project meets or will meet part of Freehold Township’s state-mandated obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing.

The committee determined that “both the land and the improvements

(the apartment building) will be exempt from real property taxation as provided

by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency requirements, provided that payments in lieu of taxes for municipal services supplied by the project are made to the municipality in such amount and manner set forth in the agreement for the PILOT program.”

According to Antus, the property off Gully Road where Kershaw Commons is proposed to be constructed is owned by Applewood Estates, which is owned by the CentraState Medical Healthcare System. Kershaw Commons will be a residence for individuals who have multiple sclerosis.

“It is a hospital-related property and is exempt from taxes. The developer will make a payment to the town in lieu of taxes,” the administrator explained.

The Kershaw Commons project is expected to come before the Freehold Township Planning Board in 2010, according to Antus.

Friends to rally for fireman


FREEHOLD — Members of the Freehold Fire Department and the Sons of the American Legion will be cooking and serving up spaghetti to help one of their own on Jan. 16.

“Members of the Freehold Fire Department and the Sons of the American Legion will be hosting a spaghetti dinner and a raffle for a flat screen TV on behalf of our brother fireman and friend, Billy Anderson,” firefighter Chris Guy said.

The event will be held at the American Legion hall, 62 W. Main St., from 4-9 p.m. Jan. 16.

According to Guy, who is a member of the dinner committee, Anderson, 47, serves the Freehold Fire Department as a second lieutenant. He works as a carpenter for Union Local 2250 and is a lifelong resident of Freehold Borough. Anderson was recently diagnosed with cancer and is under treatment, according to Guy.

“Members of the fire department and members of the Sons of the American Legion wanted to step up and do something to help Billy after all the time he has dedicated to volunteering for events and projects to help other people,” Guy said.

He said Anderson is an active borough volunteer who has previously worked on behalf of the Spooktacular Committee, the Neighborhood Pride Committee and the Olde Freehold Day Committee.

Guy said Joseph DiBenedetto suggested holding a dinner for Anderson. The dinner will include salad, spaghetti, meatballs and refreshments. Take-out will be available.

Guy said a group of 10 firefighters are organizing the dinner. Many of the borough’s volunteer firefighters are expected to attend the event to help prepare and serve the meal to guests. Members of the Sons of the American Legion will also be on hand to cook and serve the dinner.

Tickets for the Jan. 16 dinner can be purchased in advance. The cost of a ticket is $8 for adults and $5 for children. Add 50 cents for a take-out order. For information and tickets, call 732-462-0164.

Guy said anyone who might like to make a monetary donation for Anderson can send their donation to the Monmouth Hose Company, West Main Street, Freehold.