2018 Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Maritime Festival

Maritime Exhibits ~ Anglesea Fine Arts & Crafts Show ~ Anglesea Marketplace

Cancelled! Due to Mayor Patrick Rosenello's takeover of the lighthouse.

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Hereford Inlet Lighthouse
111 North Central Avenue
North Wildwood, New Jersey 08260
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                    November 2017

Dear Friends of Hereford Inlet Lighthouse,

     Our organization, the non-profit  “Friends of Hereford Inlet Lighthouse”,

is scheduled to be removed as stewards of the Lighthouse by the Mayor and

Council of the City of North Wildwood.  We need the help of all of our members

and supporters, now more than ever. We are being forced to vacate the property

by the end of the year. Here is the situation.

     The State of New Jersey, New Jersey Department of Environmental

Protection – Division of Parks and Forestry, owns the entire Lighthouse property

and leases it to the City. Our organization, the non-profit “Friends of Hereford

Inlet Lighthouse” in turn, has a management agreement with the City. This is a

highly unusual situation because most lighthouses are directly leased to a

non-profit organization.

     The core of our founding trustees were the persons responsible for the

initial saving of the Lighthouse, its early renovations and finally the historically

accurate restoration from 1999-2011. These same people were also the ones

who developed the museum, tours, gift shop, special events, gardens and

everything else connected with the Lighthouse. The “Friends” first began as

“the Lighthouse Commission” and evolved into what it is today.

     Relations with the previous four mayors and their councils have been fairly

good, until now. Occasionally however, even under some of the past

administrations, interference by elected officials has created some problems

for those running the Lighthouse.

     Because this situation has always had the potential to cause problems, the

late Mayor, Bill Henfey, spoke of his desire to see the eventual transfer of the

lease from the City to the “Friends”. Unfortunately, the exact opposite situation

has been brewing for the last year. The current Mayor, with vague and

unfounded accusations of management problems, as well as so-called liability

concerns, has asked City Council to pass a resolution terminating our original

management agreement. This will expire December 31, 2017. They have also

drafted a new document which will turn almost all authority and duties regarding

the Lighthouse and Gardens over to the City.

     In a nutshell; this politically motivated move would restrict our organization

to only running tours and the gift shop. Our trustees would no longer be able to

oversee the restoration or maintenance of the Lighthouse or Gardens. New

people, with no experience with or knowledge of the history of the building or

its restoration background, would then be running the Lighthouse.

     The new management agreement is so restrictive in every minute detail,

which even our ads, posters, brochures and signs would have to be approved

by the city.

     The Mayor has even hired a horticulture consulting firm that has a plan that

would call for the removal of all the trees on the Lighthouse property, as well

changing the plant varieties to what they think are more appropriate. This in

itself is heartbreaking to us.

     We have sent our response to the Mayor and council in October. It stated

that we cannot sign this agreement, and went on to say we will only sign one

that is similar to the original or ideally, work with the State for the transfer of the

lease.
                                                                       
     We just received a reply on November 14th acknowledging that there will be

no agreement between the City and “Friends” for the year 2018. Our

organization will have to vacate the property and the “Friends” organization will

probably have to dissolve sometime in the New Year.
                                                                                                                                                                 
     As many of you are aware, I am the author of the history of the Lighthouse,

“Guardians of the Hereford Inlet”. If you read it, you know that for 143 years

the only villains of the Lighthouse were wind, rain, snow, fire and the crashing

waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Now its very different - the villain for the first time

is human.

     We have always felt we are the modern day keepers of Hereford and we

have to stay vigilant, guarding it to the end. We consider this place, with its

history of great dedication and sacrifice and numerous lives both saved and lost,

to be sacred and should not be treated as a political football.  If you are happy

with the work we have done restoring and running the Lighthouse, building and

maintaining  the gardens, hosting special events, producing the newsletter,

developing our tours and museum displays, running our “Buy a Brick Program”

etc. etc., Please send a strong letter of support (and outrage) to     …..    


                                                     Mayor Rosenello and Council
                                                               901 Atlantic Ave.
                                                     North Wildwood, New Jersey 08260


                    Please also send a copy to the State Historic Preservation Office

(this is very important)
                                                   Director Katherine Marcopul
                                                      NJ Historic Preservation Office  
                                                      PO box 420
                                                          501 East State St.  4th floor
                                                        Trenton N.J.  08625-0420

               Thank you for your long support. Remember, there is not much time

left. Your prayers will help as well. Remember, we need to respond quickly.
                                                                                                  Thank you,
                                                                                                Steve Murray
                                                                                                      
                                                                                                   Chairman

________________________________________________________________
                         In response to the statements and charges made by Mayor

Rosenello of the City of North Wildwood about the Friends of Hereford Inlet

Lighthouse. His statements are found on both the official North Wildwoods

Facebook page and its Tourism page, as well as being sent out to all those

that sent a letter of complaint to the Mayor or an email.                                

             I would like to offer the true facts regarding the Mayors charges, the

majority of which are misleading or untrue. The Mayors mission is to remove our

organization from being stewards of the Lighthouse, obviously for his own

political gain.
                   First of all, there have not been “talks for over a year” regarding a

new management agreement. Several months ago we received a copy of a

council resolution ending our present agreement as of December 31. In October

we received a new proposed agreement that would essentially take all the

responsibilities away from the people who have been maintaining, restoring and

operating the historic site since its earliest days. Our board members could

neither sign nor negotiate this outrageous contract which was hurtful and

insulting to some people that have given up most of their personal lives helping

to make Hereford what it is today.


   The Mayors statement that the City has been the primary organization behind

the preservation, rehabilitation and operation of the Lighthouse is not just

misleading, it is false.
   When it was first acquired by lease through Mayor Catanoso, he set up the

”Lighthouse Commission” which would be a board of volunteers that would

restore, operate and maintain the site without local tax dollars. It generated its

own funds that were kept in a Trust account. The Commission wrote and applied for all the restoration grants we received, not the City.
    The City’s primary involvement was that it paid the various stages of the

work as it progressed, and then was reimbursed by the grants. This is how

grants work. All matching funds and other costs were either paid for by the

Commission or by the non- profit Friends. History is history—you can’t re-write it

to suit you like some people try to do.


    Mayors Catanoso, Vinci, Palumbo and Henfey were all enthusiastic supporters

of our work at the Lighthouse. Other than them however, ask any of our current

or past employees, how many times they have seen a City official at the

Lighthouse or at any of our special events and fundraisers. Many will say Zero.

And its not for lack of trying.


            In regards to the Mayors charges against us.

                            
                            Improper communications on behalf of the City


                  Several years ago a resident of an adjoining property, one evening,

cut through a wire fence belonging to the Lighthouse and cut down a mature

pine tree.( State property) When discovered in the morning the Police were

called and the person admitted to doing this. He was given a warning not to do

so again (even though this was trespassing and vandalism). We told the police

we did not want any further action on this. A few years later someone from that

same property cut another tree on the Lighthouse side of the property line again.

The police were not called this time but out of frustration, a letter was sent to

the property owner that the next time this occurred, which would be the third,

the police and legal action would follow.
       I have to note here that since he has been Mayor, I have told him that

private landscapers, hired by neighbors, have been spraying herbicides on large

areas in the wild, wildlife habitat section of the Lighthouse property (State

owned) and also on the open space areas behind that (County owned). Despite

my complaints, he apparently has never had these people notified by City

officials. That’s why we had to finally send a letter to the tree cutters.


                                         Unilateral action regarding a City event


               The annual Christmas tree lighting was never a City event.( I almost

have to laugh at this because for the last 25 years it was just mostly me

decorating, planning and donating a lot of decorations). The event was begun

by long time Commission chairman and volunteer Mr. Al Mouklas. When I took it

over I was basically copying an event from my hometown area in Pa. at Rose

Tree Park. Each year I always invited the current Mayor to light the tree.


         Now, the reason we cancelled last year was this. Sometime in early Fall,

I was asked by the Mayor's office to attend a meeting at City Hall in regards to

the landscaping at the Lighthouse. The City Administrator was there (not the

Mayor) and a Mr. Lomax of Lomax Consulting (Horticulture) that the City had

hired for planning/consulting. I was handed a report by them that was very

negative and critical of the landscaping and gardens of the Lighthouse. Lomax

recommended removing all the pine trees and also replacing most of the other

plants on the property with what he recommended. What a blind side shot this

was, with all the awards hanging on the walls and all of the books and

magazines it was featured in.


      I went back to my board with this report and everyone thought that we

would have to get ready for a fight to prevent this. The thought of chainsaws

and front end loaders leveling the property was dis-heartening. We started to

organize a letter writing & email campaign as well as calling all of the

environmental & historical organizations. One group began to get a picket line

together. Anyway, so focused on this threat, we figured we would have to

cancel the Tree Lighting. Our press release simply said, “due to unforeseen

circumstances”. We didn’t want to begin a controversy until it happened.  To

paraphrase the Mayor however, his statement to the papers was “ the Friends

have management issues that the City has to look at more closely.


                                   Improper abusive treatment of city employees
       Last November I pulled into the lighthouse parking lot to see a huge city

truck in the courtyard on top of the area where the engraved pavers are.  It was

not built for the weight of vehicles and the long time employee knew this. He

didn’t see anyone at the Lighthouse this day and just went ahead. There are

over $100,000 worth of pavers with the names of loved ones that we have been

so careful with. I’ve done the work myself not just to save money but to be more

careful with these special bricks. I went ballistic when I saw this and anyone

else would have too. It was careless and irresponsible and now there are many

areas that have sunk out of level. Too expensive and difficult to repair.
                                Inconsistent public access provided to Lighthouse

grounds.
          I’m not sure what the Mayor had in mind by this. We have always

allowed small intimate weddings with certain rules and restrictions for a fee.

The only problem I remember having was several times certain Mayors told us

we had to allow some weddings here that were bigger than we allow ( friends

of those Mayors) or not to charge a fee. We allow wedding photos here but we

have guidelines for the group, photographer and limo driver.


                                                  Annual report/Annual plan
             Last year at a meeting the Mayor said the City did not receive several

reports & plans that are due every year. As Chairman I do these every year and

hand them personally to the City Administrator or the Administrative assistant. I

insisted I handed in the so called missing reports. I assume they were misplaced

“by accident”. At the end of the meeting I returned within a half hour with

copies of those reports. Since then, I ask for a receipt for everything. Last week

I called the City administrator Kevin Yecco, and asked if those charges were

dropped from the record because I obviously had the reports to make copies so

quickly. He said they certainly were.


                                                   Certificate of insurance
         These certificates were not only in the annual plan but are also handed

in three more times a year, with each special events application I turn in to the

tourism department.          
                                            

Phase four grant closing problem  
           The Mayor accused the Friends of not closing out the last grant properly,

costing the City $17,000. Here is the full story.  In the Fall of 2011,

representatives from the NJ Historic Trust and The NJDOT, both of whom

awarded the Lighthouse grants for phase four of our restoration, came to

Hereford to get a first hand look at the completed project. Our project architect

Hugh McCauley and I were there to walk them through. The project was

considered well done and closed without any problems and there was a photo

taken of this special day for our newsletter. Approximately five years later a

representative from the DOT called the City and said that as far as the DOT

grant, the project was never closed out properly. I spoke to the City

administrator and asked why after so much time did the DOT say it was not

complete? Was it discovered through some in-house audit on their end? The

administrator said it probably was.


      The Friends had hired Hugh McCauley to administer the grant work (this is

separate from his work as architect.) The very complicated paper work involved

with this did not pass through the hands of the Friends because that was solely

Mr. McCauley’s responsibility. He wrote the grant for us, by the way, and over

the years committed more time and effort than he ever received compensation

for. Well, after receiving this communication from the DOT, I informed them

they would have to get in touch with our architect. By this time however, Hugh

was retired and had some serious health issues. When the DOT contacted him

though, they said they really didn’t know what was missing in the closeout. The

persons that we dealt with at the DOT during the work had retired. So Hugh

was perplexed - just tell me what you need, he said. Finally, after weeks the

DOT was able to state what was missing. Because of his illness, his retirement,

the time that had gone by, and the fact that the DOT now had a new and more

complicated electronic filing/reporting program, Hugh was stalled for many

months, with his health starting to get worse again. The grant writing company,

Triad Associates (the president who is an old associate of Hugh’s and a friend

of mine and another board member) was brought in to try to help to do some

“forensic” work in tracking down the missing items. They were finally successful.

Triad’s fees to the City was just several thousand dollars but because of the

time lapse, the City was not reimbursed the $17,000 in grant money.


        The mayor complained about this and said it may jeopardize future grants,

but the Lighthouse, having received $1.5 million in grants over the years, with

great success, awards and kudos to the work, helped the City’s grant eligibility

much more in the long run. At a meeting between the Mayor and our trustees,

I mentioned Hugh’s health being a factor in this dilemma. The Mayor said,

“I can’t worry about his personal problems”.


          It was discovered that the City itself was in violation of its management

agreement with the Friends because for two or three years it neglected to give

the Friends organization  $5,000 each year towards utility costs as stated in the

agreement. Our board of trustees forgave the City for this debt, for the sake of

good relations.
          
                                                                                                                                                    Steve Steve Murray

Hope you c