Category Archives: News

Hometown Swearing-in: Fair Haven Police Patrolman Brooks Robinson

By Elaine Van Develde

“Because he’s one of our own, it’s even more special.”

That’s what Fair Haven Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge told a packed audience at Borough Hall Monday night about Fair Haven native Brooks Robinson just before he was sworn in as a patrolman in the borough’s Police Department.

A 2006 Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School graduate, Robinson was brought into the department in 2012 as a Special Law Enforcement Officer Class I and more recently was promoted to a Class II.

He studied at Brookdale Community College and received his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University.

But, for the chief, the honor in promoting Robinson was more a Fair Haven family affair.

Welcoming the Fair Haven Robinson family and the family, and extended family of  his wife, Alyssa Pecyno Robinson, also a 2006 RFH graduate, he talked a little bit about why.

“To me, it’s a great honor to be able bring someone aboard on a full-time basis here in Fair Haven who actually went through the school system here, went to the high school and is a part of the town,” he said. “Brooks is going to be a tremendous asset to the department.”

Bringing out the bible, that he noted has been in the Fair Haven family for many years and was donated to the borough by Hap Williams for swearing-ins, Mayor Lucarelli administered the oath to Robinson, Alyssa holding the bible.

” … And that I will faithfully, impartially and justly perform the duties of patrolman according to the best of my ability, so help me God … Congratulations.”


Congratulations, Patrolman Brooks Robinson!

Sea Bright: Rip Tide Victim Pulled From Water, Had Pulse

The sirens and bustle of emergency response teams that people saw and heard in Sea Bright this afternoon were the bi-product of a water rescue, the victim of which was reported to have still had a pulse when transported to the Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch.

Early in the afternoon, just after noon, Sea Bright Ocean Rescue and emergency response teams from stations 43 and 33 were “dispatched to the dispatched to the south beach section of town for a reported water rescue,” a post on Sea Bright Fire Rescue Facebook page said.

“Chiefs Olenhaus and Murphy arrived on scene within a minute of dispatch and transmitted a Code X for a confirmed submerged swimmer.”

The teen boy had been swimming with another (who was pulled out of the water unscathed) in an unguarded area of the beach marked with red flags signaling dangerous rip tides, according to onlookers at nearby Driftwood Beach Club.

The rescue crews searched the water and quickly located the victim, who was brought to shore and given CPR, the Facebook post said.

“At the time of transfer of care to the hospital the victim had a pulse,” the post said.

He was listed in critical condition at Monmouth Medical Center as of 3 p.m..



A Heap of Fair Haven History

By noon on Monday, all that was left of the historic Williams-Robard estate in Fair Haven was an old television, a couple of mattresses, a laundry basket, and a chunk of foundation on a heap of scrap.

The 160-year-old waterfront DeNormandie Avenue home that freed slave Charles Williams built — and made home to his immediate family and Robards family descendants — was demolished to make way for a passive park was  on the banks of the Navesink River in Fair Haven.

The acquisition of the property has been in the works, via several funding avenues, for the better part of a decade.

The borough finally acquired the 6.9-acre property in the fall to preserve a rare swath of waterfront open space for future generations to enjoy, rather than letting it be sold to a private developer and closed off from public access.

The house, officials have said, was in too much disrepair to preserve. Also, as part of the deal for procurement of funding for the $1.2 million acquisition, borough officials had to agree to demolish the home.

The most recent owners, the Robards descendants, had lived in the house since 1855.

“Winifred Robards (who lived there since 1855, when she was 3) was known to invite kids onto the property to play and enjoy it all the time,” Lucarelli said.

It was her wish to pay that forward, Lucarelli had said. A plaque commemorating the Williams-Robards families will be erected on the site with a recounting of its history, Lucarelli said at the announcement of the acquisition in the fall.

Click here for the story of the acquisition.

— Photos and story by Elaine Van Develde 

Slowed Travel: Oceanic Bridge Repairs to Begin

The following is an edited  press release from Monmouth County:

Oceanic Bridge repairs are scheduled  to start on Monday morning with an estimated completion date of mid-April; and, with them traffic delays are anticipated with scheduled lane and overnight full bridge closures,

The drawbridge, which spans the Navesink River between Rumson and Middletown, will undergo repair work to its structural steel and concrete deck beginning about 9 a.m..

To complete the work and keep the bridge open to traffic during peak traffic hours, the county has developed a staggered schedule to coordinate repairs with corresponding lane closures and fully operational and closed times.

Single lane closures during the mid-day and early evening hours will facilitate vehicular and pedestrian traffic. A full overnight closure will also be in place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The schedule for fully operational times, lane closures and full closure is as follows:
• 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., both bridge lanes open to all traffic;
• 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. , single lane closure with alternating lanes of vehicular traffic;
• 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., both bridge lanes open to all traffic;
• 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., single lane closure with alternating lanes of vehicular traffic;
• and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. , bridge closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic

For marine traffic, seasonal rules and scheduling will be in effect.

“This work must be done to keep the Oceanic Bridge in working condition during its regular operating season,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the County’s Department of Public Works and Engineering in the release. “We appreciate the patience of the travelling public while we work to keep the bridge operational and get the necessary work completed.”

The staggered times will allow contractor George Harms Construction Co., Inc,. of Howell, to perform the required work above and below the bridge deck.

Motorists may want to plan an alternate route.

Motor vehicle traffic on Bingham Avenue between Rumson and Middletown should travel east and north through Sea Bright and Highlands to Middletown.

Motor vehicle traffic on Navesink River Road and Locust Point Road in Middletown should travel east and south through Middletown, Highlands and Sea Bright to Rumson.

Blizzard Update for the R-FH Area

Along with the upgrade of the blizzard warning for the Rumson-Fair Haven area from noon Monday through Tuesday evening, preparation mode has gone into overdrive with the anticipation of up to 33 inches of snow in a two-day period.

“There’s nothing left,” a grin-sporting guy joked as he left the near barren Acme in Fair Haven Sunday night.

Yes, the snow is coming, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Here’s how it’s going to hit the area, the NWS says:

Overnight into Monday morning, starting at about 3 a.m., there is a chance of up to about half an inch of snow predicted with temperatures hitting a low of about 25 degrees and northeast wind from 11 to 16 miles per hour

Monday during the day, intermittent snow is expected with accumulation of roughly 1 to 2 inches and a northeast wind of 20 to 24 miles per hour.

Monday night, a new snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches is expected with a north wind blowing at 26 to 36 miles per hour and gusts of up to 47 miles per hour. A low temperature of 25 degrees is anticipated.

Tuesday will see a lot of areas with blowing snow, winds of 25 to 30 miles per hour, gusts up to 43 and heavy accumulation of roughly 10 to 14 more inches. A high temperature of 32 degrees is expected.

On Tuesday night, the NWS predicts temperatures at a low of 19 degrees, winds of up to 31 miles per hour with gusts of as high as 36 miles per hour and 1 to 3 more inches of snow.

The Fair Haven Fire Department asks that residents keep hydrants clear of snow by 3 feet in each direction and clear to the street. “Attention Residents…Help US Help You!!! If there is a hydrant in front of or near your property, please keep it clear. Thank you!!!” a post on the department’s Facebook page said. See the graphic below.

Forecasters say that what puts a snow storm in the blizzard category is mostly the high winds causing high drifts and dangerous circumstances.

A coastal flood warning is also in effect for Sea Bright and Sandy Hook that could also affect low-lying areas of Rumson.

On Tuesday, at Sandy Hook, high tide is slated to come in at 1:07 a.m. “with a forecast tide level of 7.5 to 8 feet above mean lower low water,” according to the National Weather Service.

Fair Haven Says Goodbye to Mr. Charlie

Fair Haven Recreation and Special Events Director Charlie Hoffmann bids residents and officials goodbye at the Nov. 23 council meeting. Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven Recreation and Special Events Director Charlie Hoffmann bids residents and officials goodbye at the Nov. 23 council meeting. Photo/Elaine Van Develde

By Elaine Van Develde

“I call him Charles in Charge,” Fair Haven Borough Administrator said with a smile when bidding goodbye to the town’s well-liked director of the Department of Parks and Recreation and, more recently, Special Events, Charlie Hoffmann.

That was Monday night at the Borough Council meeting, five-and-a-half years after Hoffmann first met Fair Haven and fell in love at first sight.

“When I interviewed for this job five-and-a-half years ago, I had no absolutely no intention of taking it,” Hoffmann said at the meeting. “Someone just told me to come here and practice interviewing. I took a drive around. I was pulled over twice — so, good job with your men, chief — and instantly fell in love with this town. Then I met (then) Mayor (Michael) Halfacre in his Hawaiian shirt and said (to myself), ‘I need to work here.’ It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made, professionally.”

Since then, Hoffmann worked as the full-time Recreation director until two years ago, when he announced his resignation. The notice was met with such chagrin that Hoffmann ended up staying on part-time transitioning D.J. Breckenridge, now director, into the job. Once that transition was complete, Hoffmann continued until now as Special Events director.

It was a transition that Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande said was “seamless” for the residents and good for the town.

That’s because, she said, “I think it’s fair to say that Charlie is near and dear to the hearts of the people of Fair Haven. For many people, he was the face of Fair Haven, because they saw him (spearheading events around town) more than us. I think he has done an exemplary job.”

Hoffmann called attention to some new events he brought to the borough that he was particularly proud of, and thanked all those residents and officials, especially Recreation commissioners and council members Susan Sorensen and (former) Bob Marchese, who helped bring them to fruition as standing new traditions: the annual campout, father-daughter dance, grants, concerts on the dock and the centennial celebration, which has now turned into an annual Fair Haven Day.

Saying he was “dealt a great hand here” in Fair Haven, Hoffmann signed off by saying, “The ZIP code 07704 will always have a special place in my heart.”




GOP Keeps its Hold Streak in Rumson

By Elaine Van Develde

Historically, officials in Rumson can’t remember a time when a Democrat or independent sat on the governing body.

There has, however, been one consistent candidate for Borough Council for many years now — Michael Steinhorn.

This election was no exception. With two seats up for grabs — those of Republican incumbents Benjamin Day Jr. and Shaun P. Broderick — Steinhorn again threw his hat into the status quo ring, attempting to mix it up on the dais.

Garnering 512 votes, or 16.5 percent of the votes this time around, he failed. His campaign was characteristically low profile.

The top vote-getter in the Rumson council race was Day, with 1,313 votes, or roughly 42 percent of the votes. Broderick won 1,265 votes, or about 41 percent.

There were nine write-ins.

Dem Breaks GOP Hold on Fair Haven Council

By Elaine Van Develde

The unofficial results are in and they’re showing that, for the first time in more than a decade, the all-Republican hold on Fair Haven’s governing body has been broken.

Newcomer to the local political scene, Aimee Humphreys, has unseated longtime Republican incumbent Jerome Koch.

With what was considered a good voter turnout for mid-term elections at the borough polls, according to Monmouth County Board of Elections’ results tally, Humphreys beat Koch by more than 100 votes — her 1079 to his 963.

The high vote getter in the council race was Susan Sorensen, who won her second three-year seat on the dais with 1,216 votes, or roughly 37 percent to Humphreys’ approximate 33.

Total votes cast for the council race were 3,268.

There were five write-ins. And as “unofficial” results dictate, provision and absentee ballots have not all been counted.

Republican Mayor Ben Lucarelli has won his uncontested bid for re-election with 1,354 votes. There were 25 write-ins.

The last time the GOP hold on the dais was broken was when Joseph Szostak won his independent bid for mayor in 2002. He served one term through 2006 when former Mayor Michael Halfacre won the mayoral election.

He served until 2012, or one-and-a-half terms, when he stepped down upon being appointed by Gov. Chris Christie to serve as director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Watch for a follow-up interview with the newest member of the governing body and Sorensen. 

Rumson, Fair Haven Elections: Incumbents Want More Time

By Elaine Van Develde

They apparently just haven’t had enough.

That’s why Fair Haven and Rumson borough council incumbents are running for additional three-year terms on their respective governing bodies — and largely unopposed.

Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli faces no competition for his first full four-year term. Lucarelli filled former Mayor Michael Halfacre’s unexpired term when he was appointed director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control in January of 2012. The current mayor then won the uncontested election to finish Halfacre’s term through 2013 in November of the same year.

Newcomer Democratic candidate Aimee Humphreys is vying for one of two seats up for grabs on Fair Haven’s Borough Council. Running a lower-profile campaign, she is attempting to unseat either Susan Sorensen or Jerome Koch, both Republicans, on a platform of lowering municipal taxes and fighting reassessments. Humphreys was unavailable as of press time.

Sorensen is competing for her second term on council and Koch has served since 2002.

The two are running on a platform of experience and track records in office for keeping municipal taxes flat for six years, garnering $3.5 million in grants to offset the cost of capital improvements and more. They say, in their campaign literature, that they would like to “continue to run our borough like a successful business.”

In Rumson, Republican incumbents Shaun P. Broderick and Benjamin W. Day Jr. are vying to keep their seats on council.

Their only competition is Democrat Michael Steinhorn, who has attempted to break the characteristically longstanding Republican hold on the governing body several times and lost.

Steinhorn also ran for Monmouth County Surrogate in 2011 and lost to incumbent and former Middletown Mayor Rosemarie Peters.

The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at all the regular polling places in both boroughs.


Park to Keep Riverfront Space Open in Fair Haven

By Elaine Van Develde

“It’s been a long, arduous process,” Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli said, “but sooner than later locals will have a park on the riverfront to call their own.”

The mayor and other local, county and non-profit officials brought the decade-long concept one step closer to fruition on Friday when they gathered to commemorate Fair Haven’s acquisition of the property on the Navesink River at the end of DeNormandie Avenue.

Officials have eyed the 6.9-acre $1.2 million swath of land as future passive recreation facility for years now, since the tenure of former Mayor Michael Halfacre. However, for one red-tape reason or another, it’s taken a persistent fight and many avenues of grant acquisition to keep the land that was intended by its owners to remain in the public trust just that — and at the right price.

In the end, taxpayers are contributing $200,750 for the property, “most of which has already been budgeted for,” the mayor added.

The remainder of the funding was allocated as follows: NJ Blue Acres Grant Program paid for the bulk, or $608,750 of it; the Monmouth County Open Space Grant Program kicked in $250,000; and, most recently,  the non-profit Monmouth Conservation Foundation contributed $100,000.

In order to procure the grant money, the borough needed to commit to certain conditions: the home is to be demolished; a passive park with riverfront access must replace the home; there are to be no impervious surfaces; and the park is to be named after the property’s founding family, the Robards with a plaque anchored on the site giving a brief history of the family. The timetable, starting with the demolition, for all of this is slated for the spring of 2015.

This way, it’s guaranteed to be the borough’s “to enjoy for future generations going forward,” Lucarelli said. Once property is acquired as open space, using state, county and non-profit funding, it must stay just conserved as such.

That was the aim of local officials and the property’s original owners from the onset — to keep riverfront access open so that future generations can enjoy growing up Fair Haven style.

Frequently, the mayor has talked about how he grew up in Rumson with “sand between my toes.” The riverfront has been a mainstay for most who have grown up in the area, though the price and taxes of owning property on the riverfront is staggering for those of modest means — as were the Williams and Robards families, whose relatives had made the property their home since the 1850s.

For that reason, Lucarelli said, the descendants of Charles Williams — the free black man of his time who built his home and settled his family at foot-of-DeNormandie spot — felt that if they must sell the property, it would be their wish to preserve it as open space for all to enjoy rather than cloister it as an elite private property.

The most recent owners, the Robards descendants, whose family had lived in the spot since 1855, knew that as well and, for that reason, wanted to keep it open to the public.

“Winifred Robards (who lived there since 1855, when she was 3) was known to invite kids onto the property to play and enjoy it all the time,” Lucarelli said.

Soon enough, they and future generations will.

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