The following are Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace’s remarks from today’s Reorganization Meeting:
Good Afternoon and Happy New Year!
This afternoon, I’m fortunate to have my family and friends with me as I begin my second term on Oceanport Borough Council. I would like to thank the residents of Oceanport for giving me this chance to, again, serve as your councilman. It is both an honor and a privilege.
I would like to thank my wife Eileen who, God knows puts up with a lot, and our two daughters Kristi and Samantha. Samantha often serves as my official photographer and Campaign Manager. The support and understanding of my family is an amazing gift that is truly appreciated. I would also like to thank my parents, Joseph and Jennie. Mom & Dad, you are true inspirations to me and great role models, too. Thanks to my Brother Rick and his family who are also with us today. To all the residents of Oceanport, your overwhelming support is the reason I sit here today. I pledge to continue my best work in my next three year term.
Congratulations to all the fire and first aid officers sworn in today. Special thanks to Tom Crochet, outgoing Chief, for his dedication to our borough. I’d also like to thank outgoing Councilman Jay Briscione for his many years of service. Jay’s contributions regarding our two biggest issues, Fort Monmouth and Monmouth Park, have been invaluable to all of us as a Governing Body. I’m glad Jay has volunteered, to remain active in both of these important projects. Welcome back Ted Ibex. As a former Councilman, Ted has played an important part in what our team has accomplished. I know he will be able to hit the ground running as he begins his current term.
The borough of Oceanport continues to deal with the direct and immediate impact of the closure of Fort Monmouth and the inane decisions involving Monmouth Park Racetrack. We as a Governing Body and community have to be increasingly vigilant and proactive knowing we don’t have ultimate control over either issue.
The actions being taken today regarding Fort Monmouth affect the future of Oceanport. Regardless of the political ramifications, we as a Governing Body, worked hard on the Fort Monmouth Redevelopment Bill. We participated in conversations and debates that consumed many hours and were not always cordial but were necessary to protect Oceanport and our future as a community. As a Governing Body we were able to extract an unprecedented 40 amendments to the original Fort Monmouth Bill which gave us some say in what happens in the 419 acres that will be located in our boundaries. Ultimately, this bill seems to reflect a lot of compromise as set forth in the amendments; HOWEVER, the one place that there was no compromise is in the underlying premise of the bill: State control. In my opinion, everything after State control is secondary. Therefore our vigilance going forward is vital to making sure Oceanport is protected as redevelopment progresses.
The recent Hanson Commission Report seems to suggest that Atlantic City casinos are more important to our State then horse racing. As host town to Monmouth Park, Oceanport couldn’t disagree more. The Commission seems to totally disregard the benefits that horse racing brings to New Jersey; such as 7,000 jobs, $110 million in federal, state and local taxes, and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape and open space.
A study done by Christiansen Capital Advisors, commissioned by the New Jersey Department of Treasury at a cost of $100,000, recommended the installation of slot machines at the Meadowlands. The reports stated that 5,000 machines at the Meadowlands would produce $750 million annually and that 10,000 machines would produce $1.5 billion annually. The same study suggested that 2,100 slots at the Meadowlands would reduce Atlantic City gross gaming revenue by a mere .01 percent and perhaps save live racing at Monmouth Park. Why were this study, and its results ignored?
Clearly, we need to remain involved and active in both matters as we head though 2011. I know that with Mayor Mahon’s leadership and the active role our Council has taken on both matters, Oceanport is in good hands!
In closing, I would like everyone to remember our troops who are serving overseas. We are able to enjoy our many freedoms because of their willingness to serve.
Thank you and Happy New Year!