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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Avalon Council Reorganizes With Coskey as President

At the Avalon reorganization, from left: Councilman Greg “Chet” Johnson, Council Vice President Barbara Juzaitis, Council President Mari Coskey, Mayor John McCorristin, Councilman Sam Wierman and Councilman Jamie McDermott.

By Vince Conti

AVALON – The Borough Council held a short reorganization meeting Wednesday, July 3, at which Councilman Jamie McDermott turned over the president’s gavel to Mari Coskey. Barbara Juzaitis was chosen as vice president.

Avalon goes into a new municipal year with Juzaitis, who joined the governing body in 2018, as the most senior member of the council. Coskey came onto the council in 2021, and this is her first stint as council president, a position that by tradition rotates annually.

This is a big change from just a few years ago, when council members like Dr. Nancy Hudanich, Charles “Chuck” Covington and Richard Dean measured their service on the governing body in decades. Dean stepped down in 2018 after 31 years on the council. Covington left the next year following 28 years of service; Hudanich left in 2021, in her 32nd year on the governing body.

They worked with then-Mayor Martin Pagliughi, who stepped down in 2023 after 32 years at the helm. Mayor John McCorristin left the council to take the mayor’s seat in 2023.

Coskey has been a permanent resident of the borough since 2014; prior to that she spent summers there. She and her husband Michael have two young children.

She has a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University and a master’s in communications disorders from La Salle University. She works as the special education coordinator in the Avalon-Stone Harbor schools, where she is also the district’s speech language pathologist.

Juzaitis was initially appointed to her seat on the council following the retirement of Dean for health reasons with time still left on his term. She has been an Avalon resident for almost 25 years. She holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, with a certification in infection control.

Following the election of the council officers, the governing body passed some routine resolutions and opened the floor to public comment.

A group of property owners from the area of 21st Street used the comment period to ask the borough for help with flooding problems that they say are the direct result of new development. Four members of the group came to the podium, with John Rogers saying 13 separate families have had their property impacted by flooding and standing water following storms.

“It a race to the top,” Rogers said, meaning new properties with higher grades and impervious surfaces are responsible for the water flooding nearby yards. “We don’t feel that 13 properties should experience adverse effects due to new development.”

The property owners argued that raising all of their homes was not a practical solution and asked for a drainage plan. Heidi Raymer of 21st Street, a registered nurse and occupational safety professional, said, “I’ve dealt with environmental safety issues my whole career” and added that the standing water in their yards is a health and safety hazard.

The council made no comment in response.

The next regular meeting of the council is on Wednesday, July 10, at 4 pm.

Contact the reporter, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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