Couple frustrated in attempts to get home work done
Couple frustrated in attempts to get home work done
Catherine and Alfred Sedano of Jackson Township thought they’d be settled into their new home on Agostina Drive by now. After all, the home was purchased in September 1997.
After waiting two years to move into their dream house, they were even more certain that by February 1999, when they finally moved into their new home, all those "i’s" would be dotted and all those "t’s" would be crossed.
At a Township Committee meeting on June 25, Catherine Sedano told members of the governing body that she and her neighbors had come to voice their concerns over work they said was left undone by their builder, MKM of Jackson LLC of Morristown.
Unpaved roads is the largest problem that appears to apply to all the residents of the 13-home development, Forest Estates. But there are other concerns, according to Sedano, and half the residents who live on Agostina Drive came out to ask committee members for help and direction in how to proceed.
Sedano told municipal officials there is additional work that needs to be completed in addition the unpaved roads, such as cracked curbs, shade trees that were never planted, and landscaping around a detention basin.
According to Sedano, many of the final touches that were promised have not been done. She told the committee that "with the past history of our builder and how things have been done so far, we’re worried that none of this work will ever be completed. This builder has been totally unresponsive to our concerns."
Sedano told Mayor Joseph Grisanti that she and her husband had finally taken their individual complaints to Morristown small claims court in the hope that they would at least receive money to do the work that MKM at Jackson would not.
Sedano said she spoke for all of her neighbors when she told the mayor she was very worried about the performance bond being held on the company by the township.
"The performance bond on this subdivision is currently $89,660," Sedano said. "The original bond of $235,080 had somehow been reduced in November 1997 to the $89,660 it is now."
Sedano asked Grisanti how that was possible.
"Doesn’t the town hold the money until the work is done? There were only three or four houses built at the time. Isn’t that a rather large reduction so early in the subdivision?" she asked.
Sedano said she was advised to call the township engineer, Gary Reed. She said she was told by Reed that because the development’s infrastructure had been completed — roads, lights and sewers — that the builder was allowed the reduction in the performance bond.
She said Reed told her he would send a letter out to the builder for the final work to be scheduled. Sedano sent a letter to her neighbors updating them of the situation. Her letter also quoted Reed as telling her that "the letter is usually just the beginning and that it would be no guarantee that any action would be forthcoming."
Grisanti responded to Sedano’s comments by telling her this procedure would not be allowed now under the current administration. He referred Sedano to Richard Thompson, township administrator, who said he would look into the matter. The mayor said the committee would continue to monitor the situation.
In a subsequent conversation, Sedano discussed some of the other issues she and her family are having in their home. She said there are no screens on her kitchen windows, no shower door installed and no patio doors installed. She said an overhead fan, family room and living room light fixtures have yet to be installed. There are no heating vents (dampers) in the basement and she said she still hasn’t had her humidifier installed.
After what she said were repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact the builder, the couple took their case to court where they were awarded $2,000 to complete some of the work. But, according to Sedano, that only covers half of the complaints that have plagued the couple since this issue arose. She said other problems were taken care of by the home warranty.
She also said the closing on her home was a nightmare.
"It took almost four hours and we almost didn’t close at all. Apparently the builder owed more in liens on the house than the house was worth," she said, adding that there were even workmen waiting in the halls on the day of closing who had to be paid before the couple could have their home.
Sedano also said she and her husband had to eventually sign what a representative of MKM called a "gentlemen’s agreement" in order to close. She said that on the night before the closing she received a call from a representative of MKM. She said the firm’s representative told her that if the Sedanos insisted on having escrow money in their account the closing would have to be postponed.
There was no escrow money available.
Sedano said because everything had gone so slowly and so badly, the couple decided to forego the demand for escrow money to cover the uncompleted work and settle for the gentlemen’s agreement which was supposed to protect them and assure that the worked that needed to be done would be done.
The Sedanos said now they don’t find much consolation in the gentlemen’s agreement they signed with the builder. The couple is waiting to hear from the Morris County Sheriff’s Office in regard to when they will be receiving the $2,000 they were awarded in small claims court.
Sedano said she thought the couple was doing something good when they bought the house. Now she wonders.
Greg Valesi, of CME Associates and the township engineer’s office, said Jackson has given MKM one month to complete the unfinished work.
"All the houses have been completed. There’s no reason not to have the roads paved," he said.
Valesi said if MKM does not comply with the directive then it will be necessary to draw down on the firm’s performance bond. Valesi said he didn’t think this would be necessary. He said he expects the builder to comply with regulations.
Several messages left at the offices of MKM by the Tri-Town News were not returned.
JACKSON — Making the decision to be a full-time mother has its rewards, as any mother will attest to. It also has a major downside — isolation.
Dawn Moore and many other Jackson mothers have found the antidote to this downside — the MOMS Club.
Moore moved to Jackson in October 1999 from Pennsylvania, where she had spent several years working as a hearing officer for child support.
When she arrived in Jackson with a baby boy and pregnant with another child it didn’t take her long to realize she was virtually on her own. Moore, the mother of two sons now 2 years old and 7 months old, felt isolated and discovered that finding company for herself and her son was proving to be a difficult task.
She stumbled across the MOMS Club while accessing information on the Internet at the Lakewood Library. Reading about an organization that was devoted exclusively to moms and their children interested Moore, especially since she was about to have her second child.
She made the effort to find out how to start her own local chapter of the club. Shortly thereafter, the Jackson Chapter of the MOMS Club with Moore as its founder and president was born. The club celebrated its first anniversary on June 21.
"I knew no one when I moved here," Moore said, "only my next door neighbor. No one was knocking on my door so I had to knock on others. I knew there had to be other mothers who felt the same void I was feeling."
At the first meeting of the MOMS Club 11 women showed up to join the group, Moore said. Membership in the club has now grown to 45 with more women joining all the time.
According to Moore, MOMS Club (Mothers Offering Mothers Support) was founded in 1983 by Mary James, a California mother who was tired of being at home alone and wanted to meet other moms and find "at-home" kids for her children to play with. Moore explained that when James discovered there were no organizations that met during the day and allowed mothers to bring their children, she decided to start her own.
The club became a huge success and now has 1,250 chapters nationwide and 63,000 members in the United States. Chapters are even being started in places like Italy, South Africa, Belgium and Canada to name a few.
According to literature provided by the organization, MOMS Clubs support today’s mother, provide a forum for topics of interest to women and help children in the community. The group is also responsible for performing one service project a year. This year’s project for the group was collecting yarn for Project Linus, an organization that donates handmade blankets to critically ill children.
The literature also states that the club understands the special needs of at-home mothers.
"We meet during the day when moms need support the most," Moore said. "Becoming a mother shouldn’t mean you have to become isolated."
According to Moore, the group holds monthly meetings at the Center for Kids and Family, County Line Road, on the first Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m. A guest speaker is usually featured. Topics such as stress management and anger management have been discussed by previous speakers.
Moms bring their children to the center where two rooms have been set up for them. Moore said the moms take turns watching the children so everyone has a turn to hear the speaker and catch up on important information and upcoming events.
The club also plans two to three activities a week for moms and their little ones, according to Moore, activities such as a beach day, a park day, an arts and crafts day or a book discussion day.
Once a month the group also has a "mom’s night out," a night just for mothers to socialize among themselves, as adults, without having to look over their shoulders to check their little ones. They might take in a movie or enjoy dinner out.
Moore said she writes a monthly newsletter which does more than just inform people of upcoming events. It’s full of goodies like birthday and anniversary announcements, a little poetry, a few inspirational quotes to reflect upon, a recipe corner and some helpful hints for mothers.
The newsletter also lists coordinators for the various projects and activities for the month and, according to Moore, the fact that each activity has its own coordinator is what helps the club to run so smoothly. No one person is required to do all the work. Mothers have enough to do as it is without taking on more than they can handle, even if it is in the name of companionship and fun.
Annual dues for the group is $25.
Moore said one of the goals of the group is to promote interaction among the children. There are regularly scheduled play groups for the tots arranged according to age. Each age group has its own coordinator and activities.
"We have mothers from all walks of life and from all incomes. Some of us have degrees, others do not," Moore said.
The club president said she loves being a full-time mom and finds it very fulfilling. The MOMS Club has filled the void that not working had created in her life. She also commented that mothers who are working part-time outside the home are also joining the group now.
Moore said most members have lived in Jackson for less than five years. Many are from out of state and have no real support system or extended family in this area. This group, according to its president, helps to close the gap that this lack causes.
Donna Hewitt considers her membership in the MOMS Club a "Godsend." She’s been a member since the beginning. Hewitt moved to Jackson from Old Bridge almost two years ago. She said she was in her home about six months and still hardly knew anyone.
"I had a 3-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy. Sometimes you want to climb the walls, you know?" Hewitt asked.
Hewitt said she’s made friends for herself and for her children.
"There are no real rules in the club. It’s all so flexible, and that’s what makes it work so great," she said.
She said she really looks forward to the club’s monthly meetings, which she classifies as "chaotic fun."
Hewitt said she worked on Wall Street and then as an assistant administrator for HIP in New Brunswick.
"Working was so much easier," laughed Hewitt. "Motherhood is a reinventing process. The MOMS Club has helped with this process."
Hewitt said she appreciates all the support, advice and guidance the club has provided for her.
Reducing the sense of isolation by encouraging the social relationships between moms and the interactions among their children have made motherhood a much smoother transition for Hewitt and for many moms like her. For further information about the MOMS Club, contact www.momsclub.org or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board told need for new
school is around corner
for seventh facility
could take four years
Board told need for new
ENGLISHTOWN — It will not be too long before a seventh high school will be needed to house the growing student population of the Freehold Regional High School District.
Board of Education members were presented with that assessment at their June 25 meeting. At present, the district includes six high schools that serve about 9,200 students.
Jeanne K. Perantoni, a principal with the SSP Architectural Group, Somerville, and Marcus Rosenau, project manager, also of the SSP Architectural Group, supplied board members with some insight into the future needs for the district.
"There are two sets of numbers," said Perantoni, "demographic, or what is projected, and capacity, or what you can hold in your school building."
Perantoni said state legislation enacted in July 2000 has caused changes in the figures that were previously presented.
"The state has a new formula to determine building capacity," she said. "Numbers that were calculated for capacity prior to the district’s current construction referendum are different from what they are right now."
Perantoni also explained that she has numbers to indicate the demographics, the projected number of students who will be entering the high school district. Those figures are based on numbers sent to the high school district from the elementary school sending districts in the eight towns that comprise the district.
Rosenau told the board that enrollment as of January was 9,214 students in the district. That figure includes 79 home instruction students.
At the end of the present referendum construction in September 2003 there will be a projected enrollment of 10,634 students, according to information provided to the board. The figures indicate there will be 87 unhoused students at that time.
"This shows, at the end of construction, we have a set number of unhoused students," said Rosenau. "We figured that by counting up all of the classrooms, after construction, and we came up with a total number of classroom stations for each school. Based on 24 students per classroom (the state guideline), which is the target number, we come up with the capacity at each school."
Rosenau said the projected enrollment figures for September 2005 indicate there will be 1,372 unhoused students in the district.
Superintendent of Schools James Wasser asked what the process would be if the board were to start planning for another referendum, this time with an eye on building a new school.
Rosenau said the short time frame would probably be a year to go to referendum, get all the planning done and get all the approvals.
"Then, another year would be needed to get all the design work, construction documents, state approvals and bidding," Rosenau said. "For a new high school you’re talking about two years for the construction. So you’re about four years out."
Dr. Steve Mishkin, board member representing Marlboro, said it may be necessary to look at building two new schools if the enrollment projections are carried out to 2009. He said, however, that the board can’t act on a second school at the present time.
"But the board members should keep the idea in the back of their minds," he said.
Bernice Hammer, board member representing Freehold Borough, questioned the accuracy of the figures that were being used for projecting the future enrollments.
Board members also questioned how much land would be needed for the construction of a new building. It was noted that a 60-acre parcel would probably yield about 40 acres of usable space, according to Perantoni.
In other business, a presentation was made by Donna Evangelista, administrative supervisor, involving the Global Citizen 2000 Project. The project was initiated by Rutgers University Director of Middle Eastern Studies Dr. Eric Davis.
Global Citizen 2000 is a teacher training and curriculum development program. Evangelista said its objective is to provide new and innovative learning experiences for high school students in the areas of economics, history, political culture and conflict resolution in a global context.
The program also provides for the teachers’ professional development through workshops and outreach services.
According to Evangelista, the program plans to incorporate advanced placement courses in the district via distance learning, satellite hookups, mini-courses and simulations.
In his report to the board, Wasser said that in an effort to eliminate smoking on school grounds signs will be posted at all six locations. The signs will state: "Please be advised. There is no smoking anywhere on school property, in accordance with Freehold Regional High School District policy."
"There will be no smoking on school property. That’s what the board wanted," Wasser said, explaining that the no smoking ban applies at all times at all school functions, indoors and outdoors.
Taryn Ladeau, 9, of Howell, has more courage than most women triple her age. Clutching her good luck panda bear and donned in a plastic cape, she displayed that courage graciously in the name of humanitarianism.
Taryn had 14 inches of her 24-inch long dark hair shorn off on the afternoon of June 13. Inspired by something she saw on television, the fourth-grader at the Aldrich School in Howell told Greater Media Newspapers she thought she could make a child feel better by giving them her hair.
The haircut was styled and supervised by Sue Bertola-Wolf, hairstylist and partner at Salon Cérmone, Manalapan, and was sponsored by Locks of Love, a not-for-profit organization based in Palm Springs, Fla. According to printed material provided by Locks of Love, the charity "provides happiness to financially disadvantaged children under the age of 18 with medical hair loss."
Locks of Love creates custom-fitted hair prosthetics free of charge or on a sliding scale for children whose families meet certain income guidelines. The organization began in 1997 and has helped more than 400 children to date. The literature stated that children comprise more than 80 percent of the donations, making this a charity where children have the opportunity to help other children.
Bertola-Wolf had her hair snipped off for Locks of Love two years ago and did it again in the name of charity in June. Bertola-Wolf said the salon is an official sponsor of Locks of Love and offers free haircuts and styling to community members who volunteer to have 10 inches or more of hair cut off by staff members, to be donated to this worthy cause.
"We need hair from men and women, young and old, all colors and races," Bertola-Wolf said, adding that it takes 10 to 12 ponytails to make one hair piece which costs a minimum of $3,000. "Hair donations are crucial to help less fortunate children gain self-esteem and confidence that will help improve their quality of life."
Bertola-Wolf said her salon has already donated 258 feet of hair to Locks of Love.
Taryn "gave it up" in front of an audience of supporters and well-wishers including her mother, Janet, her father, Ward, and her brother, Jonathan, 11. She approached the event with a bit of anticipation about the unknown.
"What will I look like? What will it feel like?" surely must have been thoughts that raced through the youngster’s mind. Taryn’s mother, Janet, said Taryn has her hair trimmed regularly.
This was different.
The only other real haircut the youngster has had was at the age of 3. Ladeau explained that the family was scheduled to have a family portrait done. Jonathan thought he’d get his sister, then 3, ready by giving her a new "hairdo." Mom said a chunk of hair on each side and one from the back necessitated a cancellation of the portrait but has provided an indelibly etched memory for the family members and their friends.
Bertola-Wolf shampooed and wrapped Taryn’s long hair into a ponytail and explained that she asks her clients to choose someone to "cut" the ponytail.
Taryn chose her brother, a selection which her mother found ironic after Jonathan’s last attempt to style his sister’s hair.
Jonathan approached his sister with caution and a sense of anticipation but it didn’t last long. With a little help from Bertola-Wolf, a few snips was all it took and Taryn’s long-awaited moment had arrived.
She’d done what she set out to do. Apparently, those who came to support her and her efforts were not totally surprised that Taryn wanted to do this because they knew the nature of the child herself.
Taryn’s Girl Scout leader, Marcie Nowicki of Howell, had two reasons for being involved with Locks of Love; Taryn, whom she’s known since the child was in her Brownie troop, and her 14-year-old niece who recently died of cancer in Florida. Nowicki said her niece had received hair from the organization at the age of 11.
"Locks of Love made my niece’s last couple of years wonderful," Nowicki said, adding that she only associates Locks of Love with "good stuff."
Nowicki said she is proud of Taryn, noting, "She’s as pretty inside as she is outside."
The anxious feelings of before now seem toned down, smoothed out as Taryn viewed herself in the mirror. She felt good about what she had just done.
"It feels weird though, but good," said the youngster.
Art Beins, owner of Art Beins’ Karate Super Center, Howell, also said he’s proud of Taryn.
"Our relationship has been more than just a student-teacher relationship. We’ve seen good times and bad times," Beins said, adding that Taryn had "lots of courage" to voluntarily part with her hair, considering all the peer pressure she may have to deal with.
"Her actions said, ‘Take me as I am,’ " Beins stated.
Enid Solomon, an assistant in the main office of the Aldrich School, said Taryn is very special to her. They have had a very close bond over the years Taryn has attended the school and Solomon said she was honored to have been asked to come to support Taryn on the special day.
MANALAPAN — One of Western Monmouth County’s most well-known residents will forever have his name linked to a highway whose construction he has supported for the better part of four decades.
State officials, including acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco, gathered along the Route 33 bypass last week to rename the stretch of highway from just east of Millhurst Road in Manalapan to Fairfield Road in Howell the "Theodore J. Narozanick Highway" in honor of the longtime county freeholder.
The final leg of the bypass is under construction from Halls Mill Road in Freehold Township to Fairfield Road in Howell. The project is scheduled for completion in 2002.
"Talk to anyone who has known or worked with Ted Narozanick and you will hear the same words used — words like dedicated, hardworking, energetic, a good person, a true public servant," DiFrancesco said. "If you add his years as the Monmouth County administrator, plus freeholder, Ted Narozanick has worked for the people of Monmouth County for more than four decades. His record of service is so long that it predates the first meeting on the Route 33 bypass. That’s a long time ago."
State Senate Majority Leader John O. Bennett (R-Monmouth) called Narozanick "a class act."
"It was Ted’s unswerving dedication to our county that helped secure the funding ($30 million) to pay the cost of constructing the final 1.9-mile segment of the Route 33 bypass," Bennett said.
State Sen. Joseph A. Palaia (R-Monmouth) added, "This road is aptly named for somebody who has worked so hard, for so long, and never gave up. Ted Narozanick epitomizes somebody who puts his teeth into something and won’t let go until it’s finished. That’s Ted Narozanick — aptly named and very appropriate."
Narozanick, who is serving his fourth term on the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, is in charge of human services, health and transportation.
He is a native of and former mayor of Englishtown, currently residing in Freehold Borough.
"Ted has been a strong advocate for seniors and veterans," said DiFrancesco. "He worked to provide for the county’s poor and sick. He is a friend to police and firefighters and a strong supporter of the library system right here in Monmouth County. He is a preserver and a maker of county history."
James Weinstein, state transportation commissioner, added, "Ted Narozanick has worked tirelessly for his constituents in Monmouth County. It is a fitting tribute that those motorists who use this road know it is dedicated to a life of public service. I can’t think of anybody in this state, at the county level, who is more deserving of having a section of road dedicated in his honor."
Narozanick took the podium and explained that the Route 33 bypass had been in the discussion stage since the early 1960s. The previous section, up to Halls Mill Road in Freehold Township, was completed more than a decade ago. The final leg from Halls Mill Road to Fairfield Road was delayed for a period of years by a number of issues before construction got under way last summer.
Narozanick noted that the benefits to the western part of Monmouth County — the movement of heavy trucks and various traffic around Freehold — will have a tremendous impact on the borough.
"The naming of this highway for me is a great honor, and (today) is really an emotional day for me," said Narozanick. "It’s really the greatest moment of my life. I’m very thrilled with it."
Master plan revisions take
aim at Jackson’s growth
Master plan revisions take
JACKSON — The Planning Board has adopted a series of master plan revisions and forwarded those revisions to the Township Committee for review.
The revisions were prepared by JCA Associates Inc., Moorestown, and presented by professional planner Marc R. Shuster at the board’s meeting on June 28.
The master plan is the document that guides the development of a municipality. By law, it is reviewed every six years and, if necessary, updated.
According to the introduction to the 2001 master plan revisions, the revisions "are part of the ongoing planning process that included the 1999 master plan and are a further refinement of the land use principals and plans included in that document. The basic purpose of these 2001 master plan revisions is to provide the citizens of Jackson with the best physical, economic and social environments possible through the conscientious planning and the optimum use of the natural resources of the township."
"This plan will fulfill the provision of zoning for ratables while serving the community by reducing the rate of residential growth substantially," Shuster told the board.
Asked by Mayor Joseph Grisanti, who sits on the Planning Board, how many fewer homes will be built in Jackson under the provisions of these revisions, Shuster said the reduced density will result in a buildout of 4,300 fewer homes.
"The express intention of the Planning Board and the Township Committee is to create low-density areas," Grisanti said. "This plan is long overdue. The problems we had previously will be corrected with this plan. We’ll have the opportunity for clean commercial ratables and if we don’t get going now we will be in deep trouble."
Planning Board member Samuel DePasquale said, "I think this master plan will be good for the township. Increasing the size of the (residential) lots for new development will help reduce density."
Planning Board member James Casella said, "This plan is consistent with what the public has been asking for after every meeting we had. They asked us to stop development. Parents are asking for more fields and more recreation area and we are listening to them."
The revisions to the master plan adopted by the Planning Board include the following:
• Residential Changes: With an eye toward controlling growth in "an equitable and manageable way," according to the master plan revisions, in a town whose population had reached 42,816 in 2000, densities permitted in the major residential land use categories are reduced as follows:
The Low Density Residential (R-1) land use classification now representing a density of one home per acre is to be changed and designated R-3, one home per 3 acres. The largest current concentrations of land in the R-1 classifications are in the central and northeastern portions of Jackson.
The Low Density Residential (R-2) land use classification now representing a density of one home per 2 acres will remain unchanged.
The existing Low Density Residential (R-3) land use classification now representing a density of one home per 3 acres is to be changed and designated Rural Residential one home per 5 acres. Currently the majority of this land use classification is north and south of Bennetts Mills Road east of Route 527, large tracts along the Freehold Township border and random parcels scattered in the central and northeastern portions of Jackson.
According to the document, "It is proposed that any lot which has received a building permit for a single-family unit, as of the date of any implementing ordinance, shall be considered conforming under the bulk regulations in effect at the issuance of the permit for the purpose of any subsequent improvements on the lot."
• Commercial Zones. Additional Neighborhood Commercial zone districts are proposed for specific intersections in Jackson that have experienced significant traffic increases and will continue to do so. Commercial uses at these locations generally include banks, book stores, business offices, convenience stores, pharmacies, etc.
The following are the proposed Neighborhood Commercial areas: West Veterans Highway at the Plumsted border; Cassville Road and Thompson Bridge Road – west and east of Cassville Road; Bennetts Mills Road between Leesville and Applegate roads; Bennetts Mills Road and Butterfly Road; and Bennetts Mills Road and Cooks Bridge Road.
• Towne Center Overlay Zone. This district (1,100 acres) would provide an additional option for large-scale development concepts in conjunction with the Planned Mixed Unit Residential Development. The Towne Center Overlay District includes land in the northern portion of Jackson generally bounded by Interstate 195 to the north, Route 527 to the east, Diamond Road to the west and Route 638 to the south.
Permitted uses in this zone would include municipal and other civic buildings, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, theaters and other cultural event facilities, various housing types, other retail shops and service providers.
• Professional Offices will be made conditional uses in residential zones where existing buildings front on specific county rights of way with minimum lot sizes.
• Clayton Property. The document states that as residential development continues to increase, a need for new community facilities arises; in particular the need for educational facilities grows. To respond to this issue, the area north of Route 528, adjacent to the Lakewood border currently zoned as Rural Residential is to be redesignated as a Public/Semi-Public zone. Along Route 528 extending back 300 feet should be redesignated as Light Manufacturing.
The Township Committee is expected to take up a discussion of these master plan revisions in the coming months.
Tri-Town News staff writer Clare M. Masi contributed to this story.