PAPERWORK PUTS FAIR HAVEN PLANS ON HOLD

rvr-rd-westThe River Road west streetscape is holding up a line of other projects in the borough. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mike Halfacre, Fair Haven’s mayor, one-time Congressional hopeful and triathlete may add another exploit to his list: author.

No, not really. But, more than a year after pulling in big bucks – under a stimulus program whose existence he opposed – from the federal government for a major facelift to the west side of River Road, Halfacre says he’s got plenty of material for one.

“I will write a book someday about shovel-ready projects,” he said.

Perhaps it can be a Bildungsroman on working with the federal government, one that Halfacre said has produced small mountains of paperwork – and a backlog of other projects “all being held up by trying to do River Road west.”

“I cannot tell you how frustrating it is,” Halfacre said. “It’s a mess. I mean, even our president laughed at the shovel-ready projects a couple weeks ago.”

He’s speaking specifically to the details of paperwork associated with the $886,000 project, which is near completion.

The holdup, he said, is “form after form after form” that has to be filled out to finish the work. Officials are so overloaded with paperwork from the streetscape that they’re finding it difficult to move on to plans for the other projects, said Halfacre.

“Every ‘i’ has to be dotted, every ‘t’ has to be crossed,” he said. “No one had any idea what were biting off when we bit it off.”

In the project queue, Fair Haven’s got:

• another River Road project on the east end of the road, to install new curbing, sidewalks and retaining walls from Oak Place to the Rumson border;

• upgrades to McCarter Park and McCarter Pond;

• roadwork to Lake Avenue;

• and a small expansion to the Fair Haven Fields.

All those projects are funded through a combined half-million-dollars or so in grants.

But until work is clear on River Road west, they’re on hold, lest there be heavy machinery, torn up roads and gridlock through town.

Admittedly, though, it’s not such a terrible problem to have, with money to spend and work to do, Halfacre said.

“It’s a lot on our plate, which is a good place to be, but we have to work our way through it,” he said. “We’re going to get it all done. We just can’t possibly do it all at once.”