Tag Archives: Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli

Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli Resigns

The reason has not been given, but a social media announcement by Fair Haven Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande has made it clear that 12-year Mayor Ben Lucarelli has resigned “effective immediately.”

The administrator only said in the announcement at about 1 p.m. that the administration wanted to “thank him for his accomplishments” during his mayoral tenure and “wish him luck.”

R-FH Retro has reached out to Lucarelli with no immediate response.

Of the limited information surrounding the resignation, Fair Haven Borough Council President Christopher Rodriguez, alluding to a bit of an explosive moment at last night’s council meeting, said late Tuesday afternoon, “I am still digesting the past ten hours of it all. I am still coming to grips with it all … I have not spoke to the council or mayor yet.”

The governing body’s political composition has shifted in the past few years. It has been either all Republican or majority Republican over the past couple of decades at least. Lucarelli is a Republican. Last year’s election turned the majority to Democrat, 4-2.

Lucarelli, who grew up in Rumson, moved to Fair Haven to raise his family. He served on borough council and when former Mayor Mike Halfacre, an attorney, resigned in 2012 to accept a position with the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control division under the Gov. Chris Christie administration, as holding office would have posed a conflict. Lucarelli was chosen from three nominees to fill his unexpired term and then ran for full terms.

In Fair Haven’s form of government, weak mayor, strong council, the mayor is elected separately for four-year terms as opposed to borough council members’ three-year tenure. The mayor only has a vote in council matters if he is needed to break a tie. He presides over meetings and has veto power.

According to state statute, a replacement must be named from a pool of three nominees of the same party as Lucarelli. Council will then vote on who gets the appointment to fill Lucarelli’s term, which ends at the end of 2022.

This is a breaking story. As soon as Lucarelli responds, there will be a follow-up.

Retro Night Out Mayoral Dunking

Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli gets a dunking at Night Out 2012 Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli gets a dunking at Night Out 2012
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Every year there’s a Fair Haven National Night Out. It’s a night, celebrated on the national level, designed to familiarize residents, from kids to seniors, with police and other emergency responders in town. That Night Out was Tuesday night in the borough.

There are games, demonstrations, looks at emergency equipment, food, smiles and handshakes — and a dunk tank.

Continue reading Retro Night Out Mayoral Dunking

Fair Haven Baseball: A Sign of Contention

By Elaine Van Develde

It’s a sign of baseball times in Fair Haven and something that officials think is a foul ball thrown onto the borough’s fields.

Officials discussed at Monday night’s Borough Council meeting what amounted to the latest microcosm in a longstanding quandary over donations to the baseball program in the borough with corporate sponsorship strings attached — most recently, a donated scoreboard that comes with a large corporate sponsorship plaque.

“We were told about it when it was en route,” Mayor Ben Lucarelli said. “Now it’s at the DPW (Department of Public Works). The kids want the scoreboard. It’s a nice donation. But it should be just that — a donation. It’s not proper to have what amounts to a commercial ad sitting on public fields. There should be no strings attached. They should be coming to us on things like this and asking our permission. I don’t vote, but, I move that we allow the sign to be erected without the sponsorship plaque.”

Council members agreed. But the agreement didn’t end without a  recount of what they called an uncooperative history of Fair Haven Baseball, a separate non-profit (501c3) entity, taking corporate sponsorships and advertising on banners in the public fields without any communication with borough officials.

The fact that “Fair Haven Baseball just threw up sponsorship signs against our will is just bad behavior,” Councilman Rowland Wilhelm said. “These fields rely on borough resources to maintain.”

It’s a matter of public versus private interests, Council President Jonathan Peters said.

“It’s been a bone of contention,” the mayor said. “Back in the day, things were simple. There were no sponsorships, no separate organization, just volunteers.”

The teams organized and played ball wherever they could. Then came a non-profit baseball organization and Fair Haven Fields. The fields are maintained and improved by the borough — to the tune of about $.5 million most recently.

They are public property, by virtue of not only the fact that the fields are owned and maintained by the borough, but that they were purchased with NJ Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres funds. As such, in accordance with Green Acres parameters, they must be kept open to the public and preserved as recreational open space.

Herein lies the dilemma. Since the old days, Fair Haven has decentralized its Recreation Department. So, Fair Haven Baseball has become the separate organization that it now is — a non-profit.

Commercial sponsorship donations are garnered to support the organization via various advertising methods like the banners. A large chunk of the funds that that they do receive, officials noted, do go toward Fair Haven Fields’ maintenance.

But, there is a conflict of interest when commercial entities advertise on a public property. Yes, officials said, you see it all the time on major league baseball fields. But the ownership of those fields is a different story. There’s a corporate investment from the onset.

“In the end, the goal is to have a good season and get the kids to Cooperstown,” Lucarelli said. “These are good volunteers. But, they forget that they’re in Fair Haven and the ballfields are owned by the borough.”

And, the Fair Haven Baseball gets exclusive use of the fields. No one else can play when they are scheduled.

“At the end of the day, the scoreboard is here,” Lucarelli said.

Council voted to erect it without the sponsorship plaque.

As for the future, “Can we give them a scathing letter that says, ‘If you do this again, the answer will be no?’ ” Councilwoman Susan Sorensen, liaison to the Recreation Department said. “Enough is enough.”

The board will take about three days to install, officials estimated. When, exactly, it will be erected has not yet been determined.



Rewind: RFH Bike Lane, Please

A witchy retro bike ride at RFH circa 1970s Photo/George Day
A witchy retro bike ride at RFH circa 1970s
Photo/George Day

Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli has been on a mission to make Rumson-Fair Haven area streets more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly.

It’s pretty common knowledge. So, in keeping with the safe streets theme, the Retro Pic of the (George) Day offers a glimpse back to times at RFH in the 70s when a couple of witches on a tandem bike took a ride across campus. They never hit the streets.

They didn’t need a bike lane, because people just seemed to back off as they flew through.

Know who these two are? The bike?

Many thanks, again, to George Day for this glimpse into the RFH past!