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Agenda of Change for M'town Tonight

Ordinance for Middletown Swim and Tennis Club sale introduced; Public hearing on ordinance to reconfigure Parks and Rec

Change is sometimes inevitable. Sometimes people feel it is for the better. Sometimes not. Whether or not officials' ideas for change jibe with residents' remains to be seen after some issues are aired and some change takes hold at tonight's Middletown Township Committee meeting.

Some official steps toward change are in the wings surrounding a couple of controversy-laden subjects: the fate of the Middletown Swim and Tennis Club and the newly reworked Department of Recreation.

Both subjects are due for review in different forms at tonight’s regular Township Committee meeting at 8 p.m. in Town Hall.

First, on the subject of administrative reorganization, the ordinance making the split of the township’s Department of Parks and Recreation a reality is up for public hearing and a vote tonight.

The change has been transpiring since the controversial retirement of longtime township Department of Parks and Recreation Director Gregg Silva. Silva retired, effective Jan. 1, after being suspended, or “put on administrative leave” with pay in December due to still undisclosed personnel matters.

Since the much-questioned retirement of the director, who earned more than $100,000 a year, administration decided to reconfigure the department for cost-effectiveness and to maximize productivity.

The ordinance defers the maintenance of Middletown’s more than 30 parks to Public Works. It also calls for the creation of an assistant director of Public Works position. According to the ordinance, the assistant director will head the department in the director’s absence and can be head of any of the divisions under Public Works, except Engineering.

Within the Department of Public Works, under the ordinance's organization guideline, there will be five divisions: Engineering, Public Roads, Solid Waste and Recycling, Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance, Buildings and Grounds and Parks Maintenance.

The Department of Recreation will become its own department and its new director — now Janet Adams, interim, who was director of the Tonya Keller Community Center — will handle all township recreation programming and events. Adams' former position with Tonya Keller is open and the township is advertising to fill it.

The public will have its chance to weigh in on the subject tonight.

The potential sale of the Swim Club has been a subject wrought with controversy. The last couple of township meetings have brought crowds out in protest of officials’ take that they just can’t afford to keep it afloat any longer.

One grassroots group has mobilized and taken an interest in managing and/or buying the club.

Officials have welcomed the group to come up with its own plan. Still, steps are being taken to move forward with a public sale of the township-owned facility, which has been run as a fee-supported utility.

It’s on the agenda tonight … the introduction of an ordinance to authorize the sale of the club.

There is also a Swim Club Utility meeting on March 5.

And there are a few awards being given out as well as the standard open public forum, during which residents are invited to speak up on any subject, with a five-minute limit.

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