Controversy in Bradley Beach
By Ellen Carroll

Bradley Beach environmental activist Rich Held is being championed to keep his seat on the borough's Environmental Commission, although Mayor Stephen Schueler, who makes the appointment, has some reservations.

Held has served as chairman of the commission for four years. His term expired Dec. 31.

At this week's Borough Council meeting several residents urged Schueler to re-appoint Held. In the borough's form of government the mayor makes such appointments.

Borough Councilman Gary Engelstad, who endorsed Held for the position last month, again spoke in his support calling him a "great resource."

Amanda Wheeler, a member of the commission, spoke about Held's support and work with Clean Ocean Action to clean borough beaches.

Stephanie Engelstad, also a member, said Held spearheaded most of the commission's important programs including disposable ashtrays for the beach, a non-smoking beach and stenciling the storm drains.

"Rich is a perfect example of someone who walks the walk and talks the talk," she said. "We sincerely hope you re-appoint him."

Amy Speck said he created the successful 5K Race and the Shade Tree Commission.

"Where would we be without Rich Held," she said.

Schueler, who just returned from vacation Monday, said he had not made decisions on reappointments. He also said he was not going to speak about the subject in a public forum but because of the questions and concerns, changed his mind.

"There have been some severe deficiencies in some of the things he has done," Schueler said. "They are not fatal deficiencies. It can be changed. No decisions have been made."

Schueler said he plans to sit down with Held to discuss his concerns.

"There also has been a lack of communication," the mayor said. He said Held, in several instances, has not kept the council up to speed on what he was doing.

He said he would discuss his issues with Held regarding environmental impact and drainage.

"We will go over the list," he said. "It's important to have an intellectual discourse. We need to have certain minimum standards."

Schueler said he was concerned about establishing and retaining green spaces in the borough and assured residents "it is not impossible to bridge the gap" with Held.

Held, who could not attend the meeting due to a prior engagement, said he believes the issue is political because he did not support Schueler in the last election.

"The fact that he wants to speak to me is news," Held said. "I want to have that conversation with him and see what it leads."

Held said he appreciated the support from residents and said he would like to remain on the Environmental Commission.

"I did send a letter in July indicating that I wanted to continue," he said. "I find it rewarding and I have some background for it."

New Ideas for Library

The Historical Society is looking for some new space in town. Currently, many of the artifacts and documents are being kept at the public library.

Janet Siri said the library is hoping to attract more teenagers to the facility and space is needed for that.

"We have a vision...and we need room for expansion," she said.

Engelstad said possibly some space can be "carved out of the municipal building when we get to Phase II" of construction."

Schueler said he talked with Borough Historian Shirley Ayres about space for the society and she was excited about putting the artifacts on display.

"We don't want to keep all the wonderful documents locked up in a closet where no one can see them," he said. "The idea is to make the walls available for items. We will work around a centralized theme...a living museum."



01/13/05
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