Monday, September 10, 2007

I was at the Asbury Park City Council meeting of Wednesday, September 5, 2007. I arrived shortly after 7 PM. The 6 PM Workshop meeting was still going on when I arrived. Toward the end of that Workshop meeting (about 8 PM), Councilman Loffredo announced to the people in the meeting, including many senior citizens present who were prepared to submit a petition to the council concerning the lack of progress in the 5-year search for a permanent Senior Center, that he had good news. Mr. Loffredo said that the city was acquiring the "Braverman Building" as the new Senior Center. Since I had been involved along with the Board of Ed President Robert DiSanto and the Superintendent of Schools at the time, Dr. Lewis, I was shocked to hear Mr. Loffredo say that since I knew that was the same building which the now-defunct SCC had bought for the Board of Ed to be torn down and replaced with a state of the art Early Childhood Learning Center. We had been working on the plans for many years, and the only thing that prevented further progress was the fact that the SCC had run out of money.

When Mr. Loffredo made his announcement, there was a cheer from the senior citizens present. At that time, I went over to one of the Senior leaders, Mrs. Marianne Kislowski, and explained that this was the property that was supposed to house the ECLC. I expressed my displeasure that the Council seemed to be pitting one group against the other by making this announcement, when no more than a week previous, it had been announced that the building for which the Council was negotiating was in the Redevelopment Zone (about a half mile away from the Braverman Building), and according to the deputy Mayor, the negotiations had to be secret and the "Developers" would have to be in on the negotiations as well as the unnamed building's owners since they would probably want something in return for the taking a building out of that zone. Here it was a week later and the building now being acquired was nowhere near the redevelopment zone.

When that Workshop meeting ended and there was a short recess, I asked the reporter for the Asbury Park Press, Ms. Nancy Shields, if she had heard what I had heard. She said she did, and at that point I approached the City Manager, Mr. Terry Reidy, for an explanation. I prefaced my remarks by saying that this was yet another instance of the Council refusing to communicate with the BOE that would cause a huge problem, like they did when they condemned the BOE's Administration building without so much as consulting with the BOE. I said they were now creating a conflict between the Seniors and the kids, and the BOE would be made to be the villains. At that point he said that he knew that the BOE had sent a letter to the State saying we were no longer interested in the Braverman Building as an ECLC! I reminded him that I was a member of the BOE, was involved in the discussions about the building including having commented on renderings of the proposed facility, in which way the new building should be oriented (the Braverman building was parallel to the railroad tracks), where the drop-off for the buses would be, etc., etc. I told him I wanted to see a copy of the letter he was talking about. At that point (about 8:15 PM), the so-called 7 PM regular meeting was gaveled to order. I was so upset about what had just transpired that I immediately left the council chambers and went home.

I immediately called a fellow board member, Mr. Greg Brewington, told him what had transpired and what Mr. Reidy had said to me, and asked if he was aware of any letter from the BOE to the State that we were no longer interested in the Braverman Building. He was unaware of any such letter. The next morning I called the BOE President and asked him if he was aware of any such letter. He was not, but he would attempt to ascertain whether anyone in Central Office knew of such a letter.

Frank D'Alessandro

Return to Asbury Radio home page