By Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
I hope everyone enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend at one of our County parks or golf courses while continuing to practice strict social distancing!
I am glad that the authority over the decision of whether or not the Monmouth County parks are open was put back in the hands of the Freeholders. My fellow Freeholders and I have always felt, throughout this pandemic, that our parks are essential for the mental health and wellbeing of our residents. We vowed to open them as soon as we were able to, and that is exactly what we are doing.
While I am excited to open the parks, I would like to remind residents to practice social distancing and respect any direction given by the Park Rangers, when out at the parks, so that we can work on opening up more of these areas in the coming weeks.
If you are looking for additional information regarding the Monmouth County Park System you can visit go to www.monmouthcountparks.com.
As the weather continues to get warmer I know the next question residents will have is will our beaches be open this summer season. I’d like to take a minute to explain what we have been doing regarding this topic.
For the last few weeks, I have coordinated calls with our shore mayors from Sea Bright to Manasquan to discuss how we can safely open our beaches this summer for our residents and visitors. This is a large undertaking that is multifaceted for our municipalities and their staff. While I enjoy a beach day as much as the next person, we must ensure reopening our beaches can be done in a safe and coordinated manner.
To begin, we must ensure employees and first responders can safely conduct business for their own safety and wellbeing. This includes everyone from lifeguards to public works employees. We also must ensure that the proper social distancing protocols are in place for the safety of beach patrons.
I assure you all that our shore mayors are working hard within their own towns and with one another to reopen our beaches. It is vital that everyone is on the same page to ensure a coordinated and efficient opening this summer
More details will be available in the coming days and weeks that will better outline how and when our beaches will reopen. Please stay tuned for this information through our County government and my social media pages.
Additionally, The Monmouth County Division of Transportation continues to provide service to the senior and disabled population of the county. During these difficult times all directors of transportation from the 21 NJ counties have been participating in bi-weekly conference calls. During these calls, the transportation directors report what their counties are doing to insure the safety of their residents and employees.
Monmouth County continues to be at the forefront when it comes to sharing information with other counties and putting policies in place to protect our residents and staff. Some of the safety measures that have been put into place are; providing an “Intake Script” which asked questions to passengers before the trip is booked and the use of disposable seat covers on all of our buses.
We have also made sure that all of our drivers have the appropriate PPE and has made it mandatory that all passengers wear face coverings for the duration of their trip.
On a separate note, I am pleased to announce that Monmouth County has received nearly $108 million in federal stimulus money. The money comes as part of the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last month and is to be used to offset the unexpected expenditures related to COVID-19 from March 1, 2020 through Dec. 30, 2020.
While the money has been given directly to the County to offset costs, we are planning to use this funding to provide relief to all 53 of our municipalities added. I continue to have weekly calls with the Mayors of all 53 municipalities to discuss the guidelines for how these funds can be used.
We are grateful to the federal government and our congressional delegation for this funding that will help us continue to serve the residents of Monmouth County. The County remains on the front-lines of the response to this pandemic and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of our residents and I encourage everyone to do their part by practicing social distancing, staying home when sick and correctly covering their coughs and sneezes.
Lastly, let us remember those we have lost during this crisis, those fighting and all of our first responders, health care workers and all other essential employees who continue to work during this difficult time.
We will get through this together.