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August 26, 2009


The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach met in special session at 7:00 PM with Mayor Barrella and Council Members Mercun, Hennessy, Tooker, Cervino and Rizzo present. Councilman Dixon was absent. The Municipal Clerk read the notice indicating compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

Mayor Barrella: advised that special session was called to deal with rabies outbreak – public safety issue for residents and visitors – will debate issues in executive session and be advised by Animal Control Officer (ACO) Neary – any decisions will be made in public.
Motion by Councilman Hennessy, to enter closed session to discuss topics and techniques utilized in protecting the property and safety of the public, personnel and possible litigation, was seconded by Councilman Rizzo and carried by the following roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Mercun, Hennessy, Tooker, Cervino, Rizzo….YEA

Closed session started at 7:05 P.M. and ended at 8:23 P.M.

Mayor Barrella reconvened the meeting at 8:34 P.M. Present were Council Members Mercun, Hennessy, Tooker, Cervino and Rizzo. Councilman Dixon was absent. The Municipal Clerk read the notice indicating compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

Motion by Councilman Mercun, to come out of closed session, was seconded by Councilman Hennessy and carried by the following roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Mercun, Hennessy, Tooker, Cervino, Rizzo….YEA

Attorney Gertner: as the public is aware, Council went into executive session for a variety of reasons as set forth previously, the most important of which was the discussion of tactics and techniques to be utilized in protecting the safety and property of the public – been authorized to inform the public of the following directive – the ACO is and will be empowered to create an administrative directive and chain of command to manage feral animals and colonies – as part of a tracking program, the ACO will manage sponsors and all people associated with the TNR program, and place the cats in a facility to be developed by the Borough, tentatively to be located at the northwest corner of the railroad lot along the DPW fence line – the area proposed will be fenced and secured – as part of the management of the program, the sponsors and others shall report to the ACO to insure that they are properly qualified and vaccinated, among other issues, to act as volunteers under any program enacted by the Borough – the Borough will develop a detailed timeline to review the health of individual cats and colonies - in general, to conduct and insure that their health is proper for either adoption, return or other uses or determinations, as set forth by the ACO; reminded the public that the goal is to manage the rabies outbreak .

Mayor Barrella opened the meeting to questions from the public at 8:37 P. M.

Pete Gelinas, New York Ave: asked if safe or wise to relocate feral cats back into town, if there would be 100% collection of both cats and raccoons, and about time line.
Tymara Gates, River Vista Lane: asked if all the cats in town were going to be collected and how long the cats would be kept.

Dave Cavagnaro, Parkway: asked about the minimum time for quarantine, how cats, which run across private property, would be handled and about funding of program.
ACO Neary: going to start with Boardwalk first
Cathy Pringle, Central Ave: 17-year-old son got bit and doesn't want cats in yard.
Attorney Gertner: Council is trying to ensure the public that there is a systematic plan to address the issue, which includes creating a chain of command through the ACO to perform this type of evaluation – best evidence and advice that’s been received is that a mass trap and kill simply does not work, from CDC all the way down to our local ACO – what Council is attempting to do is systematically create a program, under the auspices of our professional, our ACO, to do the best to ensure that this doesn’t happen again – the truth is, we can’t go backward, but we must go forward in a fair and appropriate fashion – the purpose of creating this program is to do our best to stop cat bite/scratch incidents now – feral cats, by definition, are uncontrollable – there is a licensing law to ensure that cats, owned by individuals, are licensed and inoculated – moreover, there is a TNR program, where there is a sponsorship and a whole protocol to deal with these feral cats, which are part of an ecosystem that control the rat population and other wildlife – the key is a systematic approach to ensure the health and safety of residents and those who visit the town –this Council has stepped up to ensure that human beings come first – they care about all the children and people in the town – called a special meeting to address the situation and inform the public that the issue will be addressed in a humane manner, based upon the best advice being received from the professionals.
Vanessa Rudd, Pt. Pleasant Beach: asked who was in charge of her colony.
Pamela Rickman, River Ave: asked why relocation was not being considered and why euthanization was being considered.
Attorney Gertner: part of the plan is to return or adopt healthy animals.
Mayor Barrella: added that Council was going to tighten up ordinances regarding abandoning cats in Point Pleasant Beach.
Pamela Rickman, River Ave: asked where the volunteers to execute this plan would be coming from, about timeline, and about notification of where cat colonies are located.
Mayor Barrella: only two viable plans are trap/hold/vaccinate or trap/hold/euthanize – will get more volunteers to help with the first plan than with a euthanasia plan.
Attorney Gertner: ACO expeditiously working on creating program.
Councilman Mercun and Mayor Barrella: Police, Fire and First Aid are aware of the location of cat colonies – have not made determination on releasing locations to the public due to concern regarding feline vigilantism – anyone, who is not a colony caretaker, that is found feeding cats or anyone found abandoning or adding cats to cat colonies will be summonsed – whole concept is to reduce the size of these colonies humanely and with the cooperation of the citizenry - healthy kittens are being put up for adoption instead of putting them back into the colonies – adult cats are being neutered - through attrition the size of the colonies will diminish – all four cat attacks took place within a four day period and there has not been another since the 14th.
Ben Dispoto, Parkway: asked if there was an estimate on the number of feral cats – asked about mass mailings.
Attorney Gertner: County takes the lead in education - hope is that they will do mailing.
Joel Wolber, Parkway: asked about vaccine pellets and who to notify about stray cats.
Gail Baldassarre, Randall Ave: asked if volunteers were going to be responsible for feeding and cleaning trapped cats; suggested started trapping where attacks occurred (already done); asked when trailers will get here and where trapped animals would be housed until they get here; opposed to making locations of colonies public as it will harm the TNR program.
John Fernicola, Arnold Ave: asked if all colonies would be collected, asked about reinforcing ACO and spoke about need for oversight committee.
Pete Gelinas, New York Ave: felt managing of cat colonies is propagating the feral cat problem; asked about the number of cats that can be kept in a town which is 2 square miles; asked about legality of trapping cats on his property.
Attorney Gertner: by adopting out kittens, by removing sick animals and continuing the TNR program, the numbers will come down.
Mayor Barrella: once school starts, there is a further opportunity to educate children – they should not be petting stray cats.
Kristin Hennessy: asked for clarification on chain of command and who AWC members should report to; expressed concern about communication between Board of Health, AWC and the ACO; asked what precautionary matters are going to be taken to prevent vigilantism and to maintain proper communication; asked about definition of unhealthy and if there would be target areas for euthanization of cats.
Motion by Councilman Mercun, to authorize the Borough Attorney to draft protocols in conjunction with the ACO, was seconded by Councilman Hennessy and carried by the following roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Mercun, Hennessy, Tooker, Cervino, Dixon….YEA

The meeting was adjourned at 10:02 PM.

Published January20, 2010 | Council Minutes | 939

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