Council: Route 70 work will be done by Thanksgiving

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

BRICK — Township officials have paved the way toward renovating one of the town’s most congested intersections.

Improvements will be made to a left turn from Route 70 to Chambers Bridge Road, which Mayor Joseph Scarpelli called "one of the most notorious spots in our community in regard to traffic congestion." Officials estimate that the work will expand an existing left turn lane’s capacity to 24 cars from its current threshold of 12.

The lowest bid for the project was submitted by Ace Manzo, of Aberdeen. However, the company told the council that it would not be able to complete the work by the Thanksgiving target date. Councilwoman Kimberley Casten said the work’s timely completion was key in light of the annual rush of holiday shopping traffic.

The majority of the work is expected to be done at night to avoid exacerbating the traffic problem at the intersection. The work will include site-clearing, traffic control, roadway construction, drainage and restoration.

The final bid for the work was awarded to Earle Asphalt Co., Farmingdale, at a cost of $132,453. The rejected Ace Manzo bid was for $129,900.

The project will be funded in the township’s 2002 capital program, with reimbursement by the state Department of Transportation (DOT), according to the Oct. 22 Township Council resolution awarding the bid.

Fair share costs required by the DOT from the developers of commercial ratables along the corridor were pursued by Scarpelli and state Sen. Andrew Ciesla (R-10) to help make the project possible.

Although the DOT is responsible for improvements on state highways like Route 70, an agreement was reached that will allow the township to handle the improvements.

Several months ago, township officials and engineers met with Ciesla to discuss improvements needed along the Route 70 corridor in light of upcoming development projects along the road. The township retained the services of Birdsall Engineering, Belmar, to conduct a traffic study in the area.

The results of the study were discussed at a later meeting between developers and state and local officials. At that meeting, work plans were developed for the project.

In other business, the council authorized the sale of a consumption liquor license to Famous Dave’s, Cedar Bridge Ave. The sale price was $377,000, which Councilman Gregory Kavanagh called "quite a good price on the township’s behalf."

The original sale price was proposed to be $350,000, but the council decided to raise that figure to $375,000, according to Steven Cucci, council president. Famous Dave’s, the highest bidder for the license, exceeded that price by $2,000.

Band’s ska-based style is the roots of Sprout

Local group gains Stone Pony contest win, club dates with major acts

By josh davidson
Staff Writer

By josh davidson
Staff Writer

Sprout rocks the crowd on stage at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony. The band won the club’s June 15 house band search and recently finished a four-song demo CD.Sprout rocks the crowd on stage at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony. The band won the club’s June 15 house band search and recently finished a four-song demo CD.

BRICK — Though together barely a year, the local band Sprout continues to gain momentum on the music scene.

After winning the June 15 house band search at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony, the band now wants to take its music to the next level.

The house band search put numerous local bands, including Matt Witte’s New Blood Revival, the Danny White Band and Red Engine Nine, in competition to decide the winner.

Sprout recently played the Stone Pony as the opener for New Jersey-based and nationally-known Skid Row. Other acts they have opened for at the Pony include Joan Jett and Fishbone.

"We want to make it (playing) our one and only job; we want to make a living out of it," lead singer Rory Fream, 23, of Brick said.

The band finished its four-song demo Oct. 24 at Long Branch’s Shore Fire Studios and will press 1,000 copies, drummer Nick Marini, 21, of Point Pleasant said. About 200 will be saved for music industry distribution, while the rest will be sold to fans, he said.

Since winning the Stone Pony house band search, they received major label interest and have continued playing the local circuit. The band has played strictly original numbers at places like the Stone Pony, Asbury Park’s the Saint and Long Branch’s Brighton Bar, to name a few. Covers and originals were played by the band at venues such as Toms River’s Mugsy’s and the Saw Mill and Aztec Bar and Grill, both in Seaside Heights.

"Hopefully, we’ll start touring soon," Marini said. "That’s what I am looking to do, as are the other guys."

The amount of early success they have had has been surprising to the band.

"At the marquee at the Stone Pony it says, ‘Vanilla Fudge, Sprout,’ and then it says, ‘Leslie West, from Mountain,’ and that just blows my mind," bassist Chris Gunderud, 28, of Manchester, said.

Sprout looks to expand on its list of places played and is looking to break into venues like New York and Philadelphia, Marini said.

"From now on, we’re just shooting for original venues," he said.

The band played the cover circuit last summer to help buy equipment. Sprout’s rehearsal space is set up behind Marini’s house on Maxson Avenue, Point Pleasant.

The band said it continues to progress as time goes on.

"When you see people out in the audience humming, (you know) it’s getting much better," Fream said.

The band began to really find its niche this summer, learning to further interact with the audience, he said.

Word of mouth has caused the band to develop a solid following, Gunderud said. People will go to a Sprout show and tell their friends about what they saw, he said. Plus, the band has its own local following, made up of personal friends.

"All of our friends that have been coming to every one of our shows, we’re not going to forget them," Gunderud said.

When they opened for Jett, people came up to the stage front who never heard of Sprout, he said.

"My stomach was in knots," Gunderud said. However, they got a good response from the audience, band members reported.

The band had a positive reaction when opening for Fishbone as well, Fream said. They get a good feeling when they open up for a national act and are able to please a crowd that isn’t even there to see them, he said.

The group’s music is ska-based, with classic, blues, rock and jazz flavorings. They try to please themselves before anyone else when writing and want the feeling to spread through the crowd, Fream said.

"The whole thing is, we got into it to have fun, and lately it has been fun," he said. "There’s nothing like having fun and being successful. There’s nothing like being able to get a bunch of free beer and still being able to play and people still not booing you off the stage."

They agreed that it’s beneficial to establish themselves locally first before making it to mainstream radio.

Selling out their sound in favor of popularity is not an option, the band said.

"Everyone knows our sound now," Marini said. "They know what we’re about. If we come out with something that sounds like Sum 41, they’re going to be like, ‘What?’"

The band doesn’t write for a certain type of people; if something they create moves them, hopefully it will move others, Fream said.

The writing process usually comes from a member playing a musical part or riff and another member adding to it, he said. Then come the lyrics, Gunderud said.

The finished product showcases the work of four solid musicians. Guitarist Cory Genthe, 23, of Point Pleasant, provides warm-toned, bluesy licks and evenly strummed chords. Gunderud’s bass work is solid, along with Marini’s swift timing on drums in the rhythm section. Fream provides smooth, even vocals.

Fream describes their sound as incorporating many music genres.

"It might start off with a rock beat and go into a reggae beat, then blues and jazz," Fream said. "When it comes together, it’s all there. We have a tough time going to shows and gigs trying to describe it. We try to touch on blues, hip-hop, jazz, swing — we try not to leave anything out."

The band members came to music through four different paths.

Marini got his start in music through his dad, whom he remembers as playing in bands since as far back as he can remember.

"I would just fall asleep to rock ’n’ roll in my basement. I just picked it up," he said.

"(My start) was somewhat less glamorous," Fream said. "I used to be in musicals in high school. I was also in chorus and all that. I picked up the guitar three years ago. I wanted to play really badly, so I picked it up."

Fream said he has sung his whole life and always sang and listened to different styles. Chorus is where he began his vocal training, he said.

"Chorus kept it going for structure and stuff like that," he said.

Gunderud is a self-taught musician.

"What got me into music mostly was my uncle," he said. "Listening to the Stones, the Doors, the Who, pretty much classic rock, I grew up listening to that. I was just fascinated with music and I decided I wanted a guitar for my eighth-grade graduation. I just taught myself how to play and a few people told me a few chords."

Gunderud said he began playing bass in the tenth grade.

Before Sprout, Genthe and Gunderud played together in a more heavy metal-based band called Uncle Stanley. The others knew each other from living in the same area.

More information about the band is available at the group’s Web site

Brick to offer residents surplus topsoil from reservoir project

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

BRICK — Residents will soon be invited to take advantage of some dirty deeds, done dirt cheap.

In an effort to save taxpayer dollars, the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority discussed plans at its Oct. 28 meeting to offer large amounts of free topsoil to any takers from the public.

An estimate of the amount of topsoil remaining in the northwest area of the ongoing pumped water storage reservoir project on Herbertsville and Sally Ike roads led the authority to pass a resolution awarding a bid for further removal. All told, officials are counting on no more than 100,000 cubic yards of soil to be removed by Muccio Inc., of Farmingdale.

But with removal costs charged at $1.62 per cubic yard, authority officials said the public can save the township some of that money by taking topsoil off their hands. A total of six bids ranging from $165,500 to $1.6 million were received by the authority to do the topsoil-removal work, according to the resolution.

The topsoil was previously made available to public agencies, local towns and highway authorities. The supply could be valuable to towns for public works projects such as renovating baseball and soccer fields, authority Executive Director Kevin Donald said.

About 10,000 cubic yards of soil have been removed by such public entities so far, Donald said. Each conducted the removal with their own loaders and machinery, he added.

The reservoir project sits on an approximately 120-acre tract that was once used as a sand quarry, according to authority Reservoir Supervisor David Harpell.

An area of the quarry was later filled in with soil dredged from the bottom of a freshwater lake by a property owner who considered building on the land, according to Donald. The soil being removed is "high-end organic" quality, not sand, he said.

The authority made no definite decision on how to inform the public about the giveaway, but is exploring the options of doing public advertising and reaching out to media outlets. However, Donald told the authority it was important to award the topsoil removal bid right away so work could begin while other details were worked out.

The method of distributing the topsoil was also not decided at the meeting. Fearing liability issues and the possibility of situations like cars getting caught in the area of the massive hole, the authority discussed a few safer alternatives of making the soil available to ordinary residents.

Authority Assistant Treasurer Patrick Bottazzi suggested the possibility of leaving a pile of topsoil in a public place for citizens to pick up with shovels and receptacles. Vice Chairman Andrew Nittoso said public works employees could play a role in the distribution.

Brick adopts most of state water-restriction easements

Work on river-to-reservoir pipeline progresses, now nearly halfway completed

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

A dump truck roams the large pit being constructed at the Brick Reservoir, Sally Ike and Herbertsville roads.A dump truck roams the large pit being constructed at the Brick Reservoir, Sally Ike and Herbertsville roads.

Confident that current water-use levels can be accommodated in the coming months, Brick officials decided last week to go along with most of the restriction easements adopted recently by the state.

On Oct. 24, Gov. James McGreevey relaxed the state’s water restrictions to again allow for activities such as washing cars on weekends, conducting commercial power washing, cleaning decks and windows with a bucket and sponge and watering gardens with a hose.

However, each municipality is free to enact tougher restrictions if warranted, and Brick had "more stringent guidelines than anywhere in the state," according to Mayor Joseph Scarpelli. After meeting with officials from the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority (BTMUA), the mayor announced that most of the state’s norms would be adopted.

One notable exception to the state’s restrictions is the township’s demand for any lawn watering to be confined to a 20-minute period between 7 p.m. and midnight. State guidelines allow for watering on odd/even days according to address from 6-9 a.m. and from 4-7 p.m.

PHOTOS BY JERRY WOLKOWITZ  Workers assemble an access tunnel that will pump water from the reservoir to the treatment plant.PHOTOS BY JERRY WOLKOWITZ Workers assemble an access tunnel that will pump water from the reservoir to the treatment plant.

Brick’s time window is designed to avoid heavy use when demands to treat the water are at their heaviest, according to BTMUA Executive Director Kevin Donald.

Scarpelli said he plans to encourage officials from other area municipalities to adopt the same guidelines.

The township struggled to fulfill its water demands during the dry months but is now just about breaking even. Water consumption and production capacity are each at about 9 million gallons per day, according to Donald.

The water comes straight from the surface of the Metedeconk River, which Donald called a fairly unique arrangement for a municipality.

When completely assembled, the tunnel will be buried below the reservoir.When completely assembled, the tunnel will be buried below the reservoir.

But dependence on surface water from a river, especially one that feeds into the ocean, has its complications. Water levels in the river need to be high enough to hold back ocean water to ensure that it is potable. In September, that balance was lost, forcing Brick to temporarily rely on well water, according to Brick Public Information Officer Bryan Dickerson.

Scarpelli is urging residents to continue their efforts to conserve water in the future. Donald cautioned that the eased restrictions are not indicative of the end of drought problems in Brick.

"I would not say that at all. Until we get back into a full year of sustained rainfall, we’re not going to be out of trouble," Donald said.

With the fall and winter months ahead, the demand for water supplies that would ordinarily be necessary to accommodate hot-weather activities like lawn watering, gardening and recreation will decrease. Still, the township continues to work on alternatives to ensure that it is not caught in a bind such as the one that the summer’s drought conditions presented.

The pumped water storage reservoir currently under construction is progressing well and is anticipated to be completed around next fall, according to BTMUA Reservoir Supervisor David Harpell. The reservoir is currently a massive hole in the ground, 90 to 100 acres, on a 120-acre tract near Herbertsville and Sally Ike roads. Workers will soon begin lining the bottom of the reservoir with thermally welded PVC in the next few weeks. It will eventually hold an estimated 1 billion gallons of water at capacity.

On Friday, work continued on what will be a more than 4-mile underground pipeline connecting the reservoir to the river. Stephen Specht, BTMUA director of engineering, estimated that the pipeline is about 40 percent completed. A cement frame is in place for what will soon be an access tunnel that will hold the 42-inch pipes responsible for pumping water back to the treatment plant.

Although heavy rains like those of the recent nor’easter helped raise the river and its tributary levels, officials saw the storm as an opportunity partially lost. In the future, the massive amounts of water that surged into the ocean will be pumped into the reservoir when it is operational.

Once the work is completed, the reservoir will be off limits to activities that could cause pollution problems. While some fishing and hiking on a path on its perimeter will be permitted, swimming and the use of boats or cars around the reservoir will be prohibited.

To protect the Metedeconk’s water quality, Scarpelli said, the township has discouraged development along its banks and bought up large blocks of nearby land for open space uses in recent years. The mayor said he would like to encourage the other six municipalities along the Metedeconk watershed — Wall, Howell, Jackson, Lakewood, Freehold Township and Millstone — to do the same but can’t automatically expect results.

"We’ve bought basically all the open space along our watershed," Scarpelli said. "That’s the easiest way to handle it. But you can’t just ask Jackson to do the same."

The mayor said he appreciated efforts such as those of Millstone, which, in effect, is protecting the Metedeconk’s environmental quality through recent plans to increase its zoning in its master plan to allow development in some areas on tracts no smaller than 6 to 10 acres.

"It’s part of their town, too, and it’s in their best interests to protect their environment," Scarpelli said.