EGG HARBOR CITY — At the Thursday, Aug. 8 Egg Harbor City Council meeting, Mayor Lisa Jiampetti informed council members that she attended a recent meeting where Judge Julio Mendez, the assignment judge for Superior Court of Atlantic County Vicinage I, informed the attendees that a state mandate for smaller courts to merge is about to be enforced.
“We need to act now to speak with other communities before the state makes a determination for us,” Council President Robert Ross said.
Committeeman Clifford Mays, Jr. expressed his displeasure.
“We should have our own court for our residents,” he said.
“There is a possibility that other courts will come here,” City Solicitor James Carroll said. Jiampetti discounted that thought.
“The judge said that there would need to be too many upgrades to our courtroom to make that feasible,” she said.
Four members of council, including Ross, Joseph Ricci Jr., Angelo Lello and Carol Kienzle, were assigned to meet with representatives from other towns about possible mergers.
“We are projected to have a $95,000 loss in our court system this year,” Ricci said.
“The taxpayers have to make up that difference,” Ross said.
Council also heard an emotional plea from Buffalo Avenue apartment resident Angel Rodriguez who lost his eyesight in 2016.
“When my wife drives us somewhere, we can’t park close to our apartment because the neighbors take up the spaces,” he said. “We often have to park a block or more away.”
Council members were sympathetic to his cause. “We can pass an ordinance to create a personalized handicap space,” Carroll said. “That would include a sign with the driver’s license plate number signifying that that is the only car permitted to park in that space.”
“Most towns charge a $100 fee in order to deter others from seeking similar relief.”
Council members agreed to act quickly once an ordinance is brought to the table.
Also at the meeting, former Hamilton Township Director of Community Development Phil Sartorio was unanimously approved to serve as the grant administrator for the Neighborhood Preservation Program.
"This is a grant for $125,000 that is not just for housing assistance, but for economic development as well," Sartorio said. "This is a unique opportunity to merge the two. We will be seeking public input and to have it done in a timely fashion."
Earlier in the meeting, Nicholas Erman was sworn into office to serve as a police special officer II and administrative assistant. Erman began his law enforcement career as an officer in Egg Harbor City in 1991. He joined the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office in 1997 and served until his recent retirement.
"I am sorry to see him leave," Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office Capt. Bruce DeShields said. "The residents of Egg Harbor City are really going to benefit."