Community Projects for NJ-04
Under a new process authorized this year, Members of Congress may submit a limited number of public and not-for-profit projects for consideration of direct federal funding. Each project must have garnered local community support and exhibit a demonstrated need. These carefully chosen submissions must also meet stringent criteria established by the committees of jurisdiction, and they are restricted by the rules of the committees. I have developed this page to keep the public informed of these important requests. Please feel free to read about each one below.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Transportation projects of Fourth District of New Jersey
Sponsor: The County of Ocean, N.J., 101 Hooper Ave., Toms River, NJ 08753
Project Name & Description: The County Road 539 Overpass Project is a long-anticipated plan to significantly increase civilian traffic safety on the roadway and provide an alternate route for military vehicles that need to cross it to conduct mission critical training and connect the eastern and western portions of the 65-square mile base. Since the inception and subsequent growth of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, this road has been supported by Federal, State, County and local officials, as well as officials at the Army Reserve and Army Guard. Civilians would take the new overpass on CR 539 while large military tactical vehicles—integral to the national security mission at JB-MDL—would be able to travel more safely and in convoy formation underneath. The Army reports the proposed overpass is in “direct support of its’s readiness mission to improve operational capability.” Local government leaders note it will vastly reduce congestion on the roadway and enhance safety for all civilian commuters.
Project Cost: $10,000,100; Requested amount $8,000,080.
Sponsor: Middletown Township, NJ
Project Name and Description: Middletown, NJ - Federal funding for the Koleda Park Improvement project is needed to help Middletown Township convert a vacant lot into useful community space. The project will include a driveway for the adjacent elementary school which will improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the nearby intersection. Additionally, a properly managed, ADA compliant parking lot on the site will reduce the need for visitors to park on neighborhood streets and ensure increased safety for those visiting the area to enjoy a nearby lake, pond, and other educational and recreational venues next to the site. The entire lot also requires a new layer of topsoil to remediate from fertilizers and pesticides used by the farm that stood on the site decades ago. The Township of Middletown, and all who visit Koleda Park, especially and including visitors to the nearby school and parks, will benefit from this project. The local sponsor will be the Township of Middletown and is prepared to meet the 20 percent local sponsor match. Accordingly, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, as the Metropolitan Planning Organization, has indicated this project would be able to be added to the TIP.
Project Cost: $1,000,000; Requested $800,000.
Sponsor: Borough of Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
Project Name and Description: The Point Pleasant Beach Channel Drive ADA Compliance Upgrade and Surface Revitalization project will enhance safety and ADA accessibility in a five-block shopping and business district by removing and replacing curbing and sidewalks; installing ADA-ramps and driveway aprons; installing ADA-compliant, color-contrasting crosswalks, pavement markings and signage; and adding lighting, landscaping, ADA-compliant benches, bike racks and bus shelters. The repaired and revamped area will also offer new opportunities for local employment for the Borough’s diverse group of businesses, including the local seafood industry, and family-friendly tourist attractions such as a thriving boardwalk that includes a first-class aquarium, rides, arcades, and a mile-long sandy beach—boosting the local economy that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The local sponsor is the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach which is prepared to meet the 20 percent local sponsor match. Accordingly, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, as the Metropolitan Planning Organization, has indicated this project would be able to be added to the TIP.
Project Cost: $1,750,000; Requested $1,399,785.
Sponsor: Freehold Borough, NJ
Project Name and Description: The benefits of the Freehold Borough Parking Improvement project include a revised circulation plan to increase the existing 54 parking spaces to 67 spaces, restoring the heavily used parking lot, while also providing additional green space and reducing stormwater runoff. In addition to the new parking spaces, a second pedestrian access point will be created, and ADA-compliant curb ramps and crosswalks will be installed to allow increased accessibility. The centralized location of the parking lot is surrounded by 3 well-travelled streets and is steps away from nearby government buildings as well as small businesses including restaurants and the local arts and cultural community who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The local sponsor is the Borough of Freehold, which is prepared to meet the 20% local match. Accordingly, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, as the Metropolitan Planning Organization, has indicated this project would be able to be added to the TIP.
Project Cost: $697,145; Requested amount: $557,716.
Sponsor: New Jersey Department of Transportation
Project Name and Description: The Route 35 Bridge Over the North Branch of Wreck Pond replacement project will result in a safer and more resilient byway which will effectively service this bustling economic area for decades to come. The purpose of this project is to replace the current bridge which has been deemed structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. Built in 1931, the current structure is in dire need of replacing.
The importance of Route 35 to the greater Southern Monmouth County community and economy cannot be overstated. This State highway is a major thoroughfare connecting numerous towns, and it also serves as an evacuation route during times of perilous storms. Economically, the highway in the project area is home to scores of businesses, and as well as provides a conduit to millions of visitors to the New Jersey shore.
This project is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and is on the appropriate TIP.
Project Cost: $4,665,000; Requested amount $3,736,000.
Sponsor: Mercer County
Project Name and Description: The Mercer County Bus Purchase will provide for the purchase of buses and bus equipment for transportation service programs in Mercer County in FY2022. It will fund the replacement of three small cutaway buses, five standard cutaway buses, and three extended cutaway standard floor buses. The County’s Transportation Resources to Aid the Disadvantaged and Elderly (TRADE) program provides non-emergency transportation to residents of Mercer County who are elderly and those with disabilities. It is the mission of TRADE to provide a safe, efficient and economical paratransit service to all eligible Mercer County residents by trained staff dedicated to the passengers' special needs. This project, sponsored by the government of Mercer County, is already on the TIP, and the County is eager to improve essential transportation services for those in need.
Project Cost: $915,000; Requested amount $915,000.
Sponsor: New Jersey Department of Transportation
Project Name and Description: The Route 33 Bridge Over the Millstone River replacement project will replace a dangerous structure with a safer and more sound thoroughfare and serve rural farms, businesses of all sizes, residents and many neighborhood communities in this section of Monmouth County, NJ. The current bridge, which was built in 1926, has been deemed structurally deficient.
At 95 years old, this structure is showing its age—evidence of the years of wear and tear connecting the Shore area with Trenton, the State Capital. In addition to the many businesses located along the roadway, Route 33 is also home to many agricultural and horse farms, which necessitate heavy equipment using the roads. Additionally, as a result of the online shopping boom brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are thousands of square feet of warehouse space currently under construction in the immediate vicinity of the bridge. Once completed, that storage space will bring with it a marked increase in heavy truck traffic that will stress and deteriorate the aged structure even more.
The sponsor of this project is the New Jersey Department of Transportation and it is listed on the appropriate Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) demonstrating both significant local support and need.
Project Cost: $4,550,000; Requested amount: $3,640,000.
Sponsor: Mercer County
Project Name and Description: Mercer County Roadway Safety Improvements, a project currently listed on the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for Fiscal Years 2020-2023 is sponsored by Mercer County. This project is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars as it will help fund several necessary roadway improvements in Mercer County, New Jersey. For instance, the project includes the installation of safety reflective pavement markings (both striping and raised reflective markers), reflective object markers, reflective roadway delineators, guide rail and other treatments that improve the overall safety and visibility of various roadways in the county.
Project Cost: $800,000 for FY2023; Requested amount: $640,000.
NJ04 Community Project Requests
Transitional Housing for Victims of Domestic Violence
Requestor: Providence House Domestic Violence Services
Project Cost: $276,800
Providence House Domestic Violence Services, based in in Ocean County, operates a Safe House facility with six bedrooms to accommodate up to 27 women and children who have left an abusive partner and require safe transitional housing while they seek permanent, independent living.
Unfortunately, over the past 13 months the pandemic has required social distancing within the Safe House, reducing its capacity to only one individual/family per bedroom. To keep the women and children as safe as possible, they’ve been placed in local hotels and motels which has created additional costs for the organization including food and transportation, all while ongoing stay-at-home orders have caused instances of domestic violence to creep up, requiring Providence House to assist with hotel/motel placement for even more individuals.
Over the course of one year, these funds would allow Catholic Charities to locate and rent safe, affordable housing for approximately 14 women/families, employ security services against unwanted visitors and provide additional case management services to set the women and their families up for success.
Seeds of Service food and other assistance
Requestor: Seeds for Service
Project Cost: $60,580
Project description: Seeds for Service is a community outreach center operated by Visitation Roman Catholic Church in Brick, NJ serving nearly 4,000 households across three counties.
The immense need for food services has been exacerbated in the past year and SOS cannot keep up with the demand and subsequent increased donations from local grocers and restaurants, unless it makes electrical upgrades and reconfigures its space. SOS previously offered an open-choice food pantry that allowed families to “shop” for their food, which not only reduces food waste but gives the family a sense of dignity. Due to social distancing requirements, SOS had to close its open-choice pantry and transition to pre-packed bags that are carried outside and loaded into the family’s vehicle.
In order to reopen its open-choice pantry, SOS must do construction to reconfigure the layout of its their space to create additional shelving for non-perishable food items, designate a staging area for pre-packing, and ultimately open the space up enough to allow for families into the pantry to choose their food. To accommodate daily donations of perishable foods from local grocers, SOS added additional commercial-size refrigerators and freezers which require an upgrade of its electrical system. A new electrical system, plus the reconfiguration of its space, will also permit SOS to restart other essential programs it offers including addiction and emergency counseling, a warming center for the homeless during cold weather, and its partnership with two local high schools that buses disabled and at-risk students to SOS for academic credit.
Beth Medrash Govoha combating anti-Semitism/security assistance
Requestor: Beth Medrash Govoha
Project Cost: $500,000
Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG)—the largest Talmudic institution of higher education in the United States and the second largest in the world—located in Lakewood, New Jersey in the Fourth Congressional district, has been the target of disgusting anti-Semitic threats and hate speech. In recent years, threats and hate crimes have been directed toward BMG, its students, and the local Jewish community, including tire slashings and defacement of property, threats to school leaders, and calls to commit violence against Jewish people on BMG’s campus.
The funding requested for this Community Project is from the Non-Profit Security Grant. This project will cover the purchase and installation of remote-controlled, electronic locking security doors for the exterior doors on eight of BMG’s building.
With approximately 7,000 students and even more faculty and staff members, the ability to remotely lock all exterior doors in the event of an active shooter or anti-Semitic terrorist attack could save lives. Unfortunately, the nation has witnessed this tragedy in synagogues in California and Pennsylvania, some officials in New Jersey, fear that the community of Lakewood—with its large population of Jewish residents—could be next.
Autism NJ—Caregiver assistance hotline
Requestor: AutismNJ, Robbinsville, NJ
Project Cost: $196,000
Project description: New Jersey’s 800.4.AUTISM Helpline has successfully connected parents with providers of effective services their children require. In fact, this Helpline annually assists 1,350 individuals on average, and its companion website had 132,764 unique visitors in 2020. Supported by Autism New Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Health, the Helpline employs three trained individuals to aid callers and digital visitors, including a social worker, a parent of an adult with a developmental disability, and a bilingual attorney. With the support of a Community Project in the amount of $196,000, for fiscal year 2022 the Helpline could hire three additional staff members including another Spanish speaker, an administrative assistant, and a data/technology coordinator. In addition to the human resources provided by this Community Project, the Helpline would also be in a position to upgrade their hardware and software—new computers, phones, and teleconferencing software for important face to face conversations—as well as make website enhancements including translating more of their content into Spanish—New Jersey’s second most spoken language. The need for this Helpline has, unfortunately, become evident in the past year. The impact of COVID-19 on Americans living with disabilities will be long-lasting. Individuals with disabilities and their families often face additional burdens and needs. These individuals and families encountered a severe “services cliff” without any warning or preparation when daily services they relied for their children suddenly became unavailable.
Ongoing stay-at-home orders have shuttered programs and cancelled services, contributing to the record number of visitors to the Helpline’s website in 2020. With the benefit of a Community Project, this Helpline—whether over the phone or virtually, and in English or Spanish—can reach more families in need of referral to services that will positively change the trajectory of their lives.
Shore Center NJ autism life skills program
Requestor: The Shore Center for Students with Autism
Project Cost: $56,200
Project description: The Shore Center for Students with Autism, operated by the Bayshore Jointure Commission, is a public, out-of-district placement for students with ASD aged 3 to 21. In addition to teaching general education curriculum aligned with New Jersey’s academic standards, the Shore Center also teaches students critical life skills, including vocational training and household management, so that one day the students can live as fully and independently as possible. Additionally, students receive any services they may require such as speech, occupational, physical, or behavioral therapy. A Community Project for the Shore Center totaling $56,200 would place the students of the Shore Center on a path for success in their adult lives. Specifically, the Shore Center would use this funding to repurpose a large classroom space and create an authentic apartment with bed, dressers, couches, TV, leisure activities, bathroom and other real-life features ($35,000); create a simulated everyday living experience for students 16-21; expand job training program to include incorporation of financial management, use of public transportation and job retention ($10,000); and develop a systematic professional development and coaching program for staff to help assist students in mastery of skills ($11,200).
Visiting Nurses Association Healthcare delivery—Freehold
Requestor: Visiting Nurses Association of Freehold
Project Cost: $700,000
Project description: With the support of a Community Project approved by Congressional appropriators in the amount of $700,000 for fiscal year 2022, VNACJ would be able to reconfigure their health center to include a complete dental suite. With federal assistance to reconfigure their Freehold Family Health Center, they would have five dental units, as well as an X-ray machine, sanitation station, and a lab room to complete all dentistry work on-site. Data shows that dental care is often neglected among underserved populations even though annual dental visits have proven helpful for early detection of oral and throat cancers. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states that tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, even though it’s completely preventable. By expanding access to dental services for this vulnerable population, this Community Project stands to improve health outcomes in the greater Freehold community. Equally important, VNACJ plans to partner with local Autism awareness groups to begin Saturday dental hours with a focus on those with Autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities who require competent care from compassionate and patient health professionals in a dedicated setting.
Visiting Nurses Association healthcare delivery–Redbank
Requestor: Visiting Nurses Association
Project Cost: $400,000
Project description: The VNA of Central NJ Community Health Center (CHC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center which provides free or reduced-cost comprehensive health care to many of constituents of NJ04. Among the services provided by the Red Bank Primary Care Center, patients receive primary, dental, behavioral, and prenatal care. These services are directed towards individuals most in need, including the homeless, mentally ill, elderly, and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the VNACJ CHC has provided testing and vaccinations to the community—reaching populations which may not have otherwise had access to these services. As the need has grown in the community, however, the current facility has become insufficient. Therefore, VNACJ CHC is seeking funds to build a new Primary Care Center, located at a site that is both more convenient and has an increased capacity to serve more residents of the community. This facility would be located at ground level, enhancing accessibility for patients with disabilities, and also include six additional exam rooms, expanding VNACJ CHC’s capacity to serve patients. This project be used for both construction and equipment—including mammogram machines, exam tables, and IT equipment.
Hamilton YMCA Afterschool program
Requestor: The Hamilton Y, Hamilton N.J.
Project Cost: $193,189
Project description: The Learn, Grow, Thrive Program at the Hamilton Area YMCA is designed to help students at local schools—which remain mostly virtual—transition back to in-person learning and recover any academic, social, or emotional loss that may have occurred during this very difficult time. Eligible students are enrolled in grades K-8 at one of Hamilton Township’s 13 schools, which are highly diverse, with more than half of students at 8 schools being children of color. Additionally, two are Title I schools, and four other schools have more than 30 percent of students utilizing a free or reduced lunch program. In terms of performance, more than 50% of Hamilton’s schools fall in the bottom half in New Jersey’s public school rankings, and many expect students’ performance to continue to decline due to pandemic-related educational disruptions. The highly-trained program staff in the Live, Grow, Thrive Program seek to fill these educational gaps. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 3:1, students receive the attention and mentoring they need to improve academic performance, while also improving social and emotional skills—especially critical during this time of online learning and social isolation. Specifically, the program includes academic support and tutoring in language arts, math, and science, following the New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards. Students also receive mental health support, physical and health education, and enrichment classes in art, music, yoga, and dance. The requested funds would be used to pay 13 homework teachers, as well as for food, supplies, and fees.
Lakewood Community Services Corporation—mental health services
Requestor: Lakewood Community Services Corporation
Project Cost: $400,000
Project description: Funds provided for this project will be used to expand mental health services provided by Lakewood Community Services Corporation (LCSC). This project is critical in addressing the need for such services in the Lakewood area, which has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent attacks on the area's Orthodox Jewish population. Lakewood Township, moreover, is a federally-designated Medically Underserved Area, with 24.2% of residents living under the poverty line, and is also the fastest-growing municipality in New Jersey. Specifically, LCHSC is seeking to construct a new, 5,000 square foot mental health facility, which would enable it to provide services such as individual and family psychotherapy, group therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. It is importance to note that LCHSC has already purchased land and drawn up architectural plans for the construction of this facility. Community Project Funding provided for this project would be used for the construction of this facility.
Brookdale Community College Center for Excellence in Cybersecurity Education
Requestor: Brookdale Community College, Monmouth County, NJ
Project Cost: $439,456
Project description: The establishment of a Center for Excellence in Cybersecurity Education (CECE) will allow Brookdale Community College to develop new courses and training programs to supplement and expand its existing programs, which include a degree program in Network Information Technology AAS, in addition to certificate programs in Cybersecurity, Local Area Networks/Wide Area Networks, and Computer Repair, all of which are increasingly in demand among students and employers. Particularly, the CECE will allow the college to establish additional certificate programs in Cybersecurity Management and Cybersecurity Auditor. It will also increase the College s virtual lab environment from 32 concurrent users to 128 to provide much-needed hands-on training, as well as provide additional classroom space, allowing more students to be trained using state-of-the-art technology, in an environment updated and equipped to prepare students for immediate employment.
These funds will specifically be used to hire a CECE Director and a Net Lab Administrator, as well as to purchase virtual lab licenses, virtual lab hardware and Cisco connectivity, and furniture, equipment, and technology for classrooms and community spaces.