These past three months have been trying for everyone. I am proud of our community though. We have once again pulled together and supported each other during a difficult time. No matter what has befallen our community in the past and now with this pandemic, Point Pleasant Borough’s residents have always come through for each other. This is what makes The Boro such a special place.
I have posted many updates over the last few months that have contained a great deal of information covering a host of different issues dealing with the Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, and I hope they have been helpful. Whether you are a business or a resident looking for assistance or information, I urge you to look at all of them for valuable information. The Borough Council and I have been regularly engaging in weekly conference calls with State and County Officials about COVID-19 and working with emergency personnel around the clock to stay on top of these issues to keep you informed and to keep our community running smoothly.
Working with the State of New Jersey
Governor Murphy recently has signed a number of Executive Orders and Administrative Actions dealing with businesses and gatherings including Executive Order #148 loosening the restrictions on the number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings and certain outdoor activities. If you would like to read all of the Governor’s Executive Orders in their entirety, you can click on the link for the full list.
While I am pleased that the Governor is finally allowing more businesses to re-open and lessening some restrictions, I feel it is not enough. In addition to relaying the concerns of our business community to the Governor’s Office multiple times on weekly Mayors’ Conference Calls, I have sent him a letter urging him to re-open our businesses. You can read my Letter to the Governor here. Our businesses are smart and want to do the right things, the Governor needs to have the same faith in them that I have. I know our businesses can open safely, they are able and willing to do so with precautions in place to protect themselves and the public.
I’d like to share again with you the most important link I feel will benefit you and that is the NJ COVID-19 Information HUB. This website has been set up by the State of New Jersey and is your one-stop website for all issues whether you are an individual or a business. There are various portals on this site for general questions about COVID-19 itself, what to do if you are infected or think you are infected, financial assistance and grants for both individuals and businesses along with areas for a range of social services assistance including but not limited to food, mental health and domestic violence.
Working with Ocean County
If you would like information on how to make an appointment to get tested for COVID-19, please visit the Ocean County Health Department to make an appointment for the drive-thru testing site at Ocean County College. For links about services, documents, information and help from your Ocean County Government related to COVID-19, please visit the Ocean County COVID-19 Information Page.
In the next week, information about grant money for our local businesses will be coming out thanks to our Freeholders. Freeholder Vicari and other County Officials have announced that they are preparing to offer grants up to $10,000.00 for small businesses in our community by setting aside funds from the CARES Act. I would like to thank the Freeholders for looking out for small businesses. More information on how to submit and other requirements will be coming out shortly and I will relay them to you as I get them.
Our Ocean County Board of Freeholders are also making a concerted effort to fill out our Census forms. It is vital, especially for funding purposes, that all residents in Point Pleasant and Ocean County fill out the Census, you can still do so if you have not already by visiting the US Census 2020 website.
COVID-19 In Point Pleasant
In regard to positive cases of COVID-19 in our community, I’ve previously stated that as tests become more available and time moves on, we will inevitably have a rise in positive cases as with all municipalities in our State. The names, addresses and statuses of these individual positive cases will not be revealed due to laws protecting one’s medical history. Not even the Borough Council and I are privy to specific information. Only the total number of cases and now deaths in each municipality are available. Further, it should be noted that this is a running total from when testing began almost three months ago, this number does not reflect recoveries, the Ocean County Health Department has not yet started to subtract recovered cases from the total.
You can see the total number of cases not just in Point Pleasant but in every municipality in Ocean County daily by clicking on the link to the Ocean County Health Department. You can also click on the NJ Department of Health page as well for State numbers. It should be noted that a large portion of our cases here in Point Pleasant have come from nursing homes and adult care facilities as with so many other communities. We know this because nursing homes and care facilities are required to report their numbers and that has become public information. These facilities house some of our most vulnerable residents and our thoughts and prayers are with them as they are with everyone.
In recent news articles, Governor Murphy has repeatedly stated that the number of new positive cases has slowed down and the effects of social distancing are being seen at the Jersey Shore. I can say that we are seeing the numbers here in Point Pleasant slow down as well. I am heartened by this, but that does not mean we can start being lax. We must all remain vigilant and do our part to help flatten the curve.
Food, Social Services Assistance & Help
Some of the challenges that this pandemic has presented us are not just financial. Some deal with having an adequate supply of food for families and seniors while others relate not just to physical health, but mental health as well. Some suffering from various addictions also need somewhere to turn to as being quarantined could have lasting implications. Others unfortunately could be faced with a situation involving domestic violence. In previous posts I shared some links to find assistance should you need them, you can revisit that post by clicking here. Ocean County is also helping to get food to senior citizens through the Ocean County Office of Senior Services. To volunteer or to help put seniors in need in contact with them, please click here.
Supporting our Local Economy
Our Point Pleasant Borough Chamber of Commerce has been doing an excellent job promoting local businesses that are able to open. I previously posted an update regarding this with links to help support those businesses. I ask you to revisit that post by clicking here. Our Chamber of Commerce is very active and is continually sharing local advertisements and specials, I urge you to continue to shop local whenever possible.
I have been urging the Governor’s Office on a weekly basis to re-open our businesses before it’s too late. In addition to our weekly conference calls, I’ve also sent him a letter expressing the need to have faith in our small businesses. They are not big box stores or corporations, they are members of our community and should be trusted to protect not only their welfare, but the welfare of the members of our community as well.
Additionally, myself and the Borough Council are working with our Chamber of Commerce to come up with new ways to help bolster and promote our businesses as more and more open back up. One such way is to loosen some restrictions on our existing outside dining ordinance. We were one of the first in the area to have a local ordinance like this, our intent now is to streamline the process so local restaurants can serve customers without being hamstrung by capacity limits and other restrictions. This will be done in a safe and responsible manner and will allow restaurants to operate in a greater capacity and allow residents to enjoy themselves.
COVID-19 Related Scams
Unfortunately, even during a time of crisis there will be those that prey on the unsuspecting and vulnerable members of our society. It is important to remain vigilant and be able to recognize when someone is taking advantage of you. With stimulus and government assistance scams occurring as stimulus funds are starting to arrive via checks and direct deposits, remember that the government will not ask you to pay anything up front. Anyone who calls and asks for you social security number, bank account or credit card information is a scammer. Grandparent and sick family member scams are also on the rise taking advantage of this pandemic. The numbers and emails from your relatives and friends most likely are not genuine, if you get a call like this, reach out to your family member or friend directly. Also, be on the lookout for phony charities and crowdfunding. We are ‘Jersey Strong’ and we come together in times of need, scammers know this too. Be sure to research where a charitable donation is going and who is doing the fundraising. There are also fake mandatory COVID-19 test scams from people posing as government and health officials looking to get your personal, financial and medical information.
The NJ Attorney General and U.S. Attorney announced the creation of a State of New Jersey and Federal joint task force to investigate and prosecute those who are exploiting this pandemic. If you believe you are being victimized or know of someone who is, you can call the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s National Hotline at 866-720-5721.
Municipal Operations in Point Pleasant
Even though municipal offices in Borough Hall are closed to the public for daily operations, we are still performing essential functions to keep our community running smoothly. All essential functions can still be accomplished either by mail, email or going onto our website. There is also a drop box in the Court Lobby where residents can drop off payments, permits and other documents to the appropriate department. I encourage you to check our website often for changes to any services and to revisit past public notices.
Governor Murphy previously signed Executive Order #143 allowing beaches to open. I am happy to announce that our two river front beaches at River Avenue and Maxson Avenue have re-opened along with our boardwalk at Riverfront Park. I ask residents to be mindful of social distancing requirements and to be respectful of each other’s personal spaces. Beach badges have also gone on sale. You must use your Community Pass account to purchase them, if you do not have an account, you can set one up for free by visiting our Recreation Department Page on our website or by clicking here. Daily badges will not be sold at the beach and all badges must be bought online ahead of time. They will be required for daily access starting June 20th when lifeguards are scheduled to be on duty. Please note this date is the same every year, regardless of COVID-19. Lifeguards will also make the appropriate call to limit access once capacity has been reached due to the Governor’s restrictions on beach openings. For those on a wait list for beach badges, there is no need to worry. We sold more in one weekend than we did all of last year combined. We have already ordered more badges and once they arrive your requests will continue to be processed. Every resident that would like a badge will be able to get one.
The balanced approach we have taken in handling this outbreak has become the new model for the rest of the State in regard to our outdoor amenities. Previously Governor Murphy decided to reopen golf courses and State & County Parks along with loosening the restrictions on the number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings and certain outdoor activities with some stipulations. While New Jersey ordered all State and County Parks closed and other municipalities shut their parks down completely at the beginning of this pandemic, we took a more measured and common-sense approach. From the beginning, while we closed certain amenities like playgrounds which still remain closed, the Borough Council and I strongly believed that there still needed to be an outlet for passive recreation and kept our open space fields open to the public from the beginning. It has worked out well for us and we would like to thank all of you for following proper social distancing practices. While our open spaces remain open … team sports, picnics and group gatherings of more than 25 people are still prohibited per the Governor. Anyone participating in team sports of any kind do so at your own risk. You are also encouraged to wear a face-mask while using our facilities. We want you to get fresh air and exercise in a responsible manner. There is signage posted at all of our sites stating COVID-19 precautions and our Police Department has increased their patrols and will ask those not adhering to social distancing guidelines to vacate the premises.
Through our Recreation Department, we have put online various activities for you to do with your children at home including word searches and coloring sheets. The Recreation Department will update this page often with new material. We also have employees calling Senior Citizens that would normally participate in our Senior Beehive programs. These calls are made weekly to those we have listed as isolated or vulnerable. We reach out, say hello and let them know they are not alone during these difficult times. Our Police Department also operates Operation Reassurance year-round where they will check on senior citizens and those living alone under special circumstances regularly. To sign up for Operation Reassurance, you can visit the Police Department’s Page on our Borough website.
Unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel summer camp like so many other towns. In addition to not being able to use the school system’s facilities this Summer where a large portion of our camp takes place, there is no way we can safely run our highly attended Summer camps due to COVID-19 restrictions. The last thing we want to do is put the children of our community in a potentially dangerous situation. We are hoping we may be able to do an abbreviated program late in the Summer. If this becomes a possibility, I will certainly keep our residents informed.
When our Summer Recreation Program is finally released, you will see programs geared towards social distancing. We’ve done our best to still have a recreation program for residents to enjoy while keeping the need for social distancing in mind.
While this month marked our Centennial Year as Point Pleasant Borough turned 100 years old on Tuesday May 19th, our Saturday May 16th celebration at Riverfront Park was postponed due to the pandemic. Rest assured, this celebration is being rescheduled for later in the year when it will be safe for all of us to celebrate together. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the birthday video we posted earlier on our social media and website, you can view it again here.
While our normal Memorial Day Ceremony was not able to be had due to COVID-19 restrictions, we still marked this solemn day by asking all Point Pleasant residents to join the Nation in a National Moment of Silence at 3PM local time on Monday May 25th. Also, as we do every year, we honor a member of our community that has served in active duty to be the ceremonial grand marshal of the ceremony. This year we honored Point Pleasant Police Officer Mark Maloney who served as a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps. Officer Maloney, a 2009 graduate of Point Pleasant Borough High School, served from 2011-2015 including tours of duty overseas in Afghanistan. Officer Maloney has dedicated the honor of being the ceremonial grand marshal to a Marine he served with overseas who did not make it back. Officer Maloney would like the memory of Lance Cpl. Anthony Denier who died while conducting combat operations in Marjah, Afghanistan to be remembered. On behalf of the Borough Council and all of Point Pleasant, I thank Officer Maloney for his service to our country and honor the memory of Lance CPL. Denier and all who made the ultimate sacrifice for a grateful Nation.
For up-to-date emergency information, I ask that you follow the Borough of Point Pleasant’s Office of Emergency Management Facebook Page and The Borough of Point Pleasant’s Police Department’s Facebook Page. You can also sign up for free NIXLE text message alerts by clicking the link on our Borough website’s home page.
The Borough Council and I would like to again thank our employees for their dedication and hard work in these trying times. Our staff at Borough Hall and Public Works have truly shown what it means to be public servants. We would also like to thank our emergency personnel as well. Our Police, Fire and First Aid Departments have been working harder than ever and we cannot thank them enough for putting themselves on the front lines of this pandemic
The Borough Council and I would like to also once again thank our community for your patience and understanding during these trying times. I constantly say there is no better place to be than “The Boro” and the way we have all pulled together recently proves that.
Mayor Robert A. Sabosik