By Chris Rotolo |ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS –A recent Monmouth County Board of Recreation Commissioners meeting was overrun with more than 100 motivated members of Neighbors for Waterfront Preservation (NWP), a community group that has dedicated itself to safeguarding the last stretch of undeveloped beachfront on the Sandy Hook Bay.The coveted plot – referred to as the McConnell Tract after its owner Arthur “Bud” McConnell – is currently the bustling hub of the Sandy Hook Catamaran Club, as well as the headquarters of Blackfoot Mobile Marine Services. But the preservation group says its future is being threatened by an application to construct 21 homes on the property, currently before the borough planning board.Nearly 30 NWP members pleaded with the recreation commissioners for assistance in their fight for conservation, while the group’s founder, Benson Chiles, presented two architectural renderings of what the site could look like as a public park.The board pledged a joint statement in support the citizen group, but board member Michael G. Harmon questioned whether borough leaders had the political will to make a difference.“It’s the mayor and council that have to decide whether or not they are in favor of preservation. And if they are, then they should come out and say that,” said Harmon, an Atlantic Highlands resident. “It’s obviously important to this group of residents that came before us. Now it’s up to the town leaders. These situations often come down to the political will of the town.”County Freeholder deputy director and board liaison Lillian G. Burry, echoed a similar sentiment, called for borough leadership to stand with their constituency.“I’d like to see your elected officials support your efforts for this project,” Burry said. “That would carry a lot of weight and could conceivably form a partnership between the town and the county. Things like this have been done before. I encourage their involvement because you have an excellent request and it shouldn’t go for naught.”Borough residents lauded the property as a local point of access to Sandy Hook Bay waters, a boat launch for Catamaran Club members and nonmembers alike, as well as a scenic, walkable expanse with a clear view of nearby Sandy Hook and the stunning New York City skyline.Children and young adults who crafted signs reading “S.O.S. Save Our Shores” spoke of their experiences interacting with wildlife, playing with friends and joining the active sailing community on site, which has helped them develop a skill as well as friendships.James Krauss, Atlantic Highlands Environmental Commission chair, likened this situation to that of the former Giuliani Tract, another selection of waterfront property once located on First Avenue near the borough’s storied harbor, which has since been turned into a parking lot for Seastreak ferry commuters.“Unfortunately we lost that fight, but we don’t want that to happen again to the last piece of undeveloped land on the waterfront. It’s too important,” said Krauss, who pledged the use of environmental commission funds to help the county acquire the seven-acre plot.Though NWP and the board will stand against the development project, time is of the essence, as Borough Administrator Adam Hubeny confirmed that a planning board hearing on the application – submitted by Matawan real estate development company Denholtz Associates – is scheduled for July 12.“We’re going to fight this until the bitter end and take it as far as we can,” said Chiles, who works professionally as a strategic consultant for various conservation organizations. “Right now our goal is to create a path for the county to acquire the property. The timeline is tight, but under the direction of (Monmouth County Park System director) Jim Truncer, the freeholders and this board of commissioners, this process can move quickly if they want it to.”This article first appeared in the June 21 – 28, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
By BETH HARRISAP Racing WriterARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Turns out the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap wasn’t much of a challenge for prohibitive favorite Shared Belief.The 5-year-old dark bay gelding collared pacesetter Moreno on the turn for home and went on to win by 4 1/4 lengths Saturday, improving to 10-1 in his career.Shared Belief ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.67 and paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 1-5 favorite of 26,134 fans.Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith earned a record third consecutive Big `Cap victory, having won the previous two years aboard Game On Dude. He had Shared Belief in the middle of the pack much of the way before they went four horses wide to take the lead into the stretch.“Not to take anything away from the competition, but I geared him down a few times and he still won like that,” Smith said. “I was watching the (infield) TV from the quarter-pole to the wire and I feel bad to say this, but I was trying to not win by so far. As they say, don’t squeeze a lemon if you don’t have to.”Shared Belief’s only blemish is a loss in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic after a messy start last fall at Santa Anita. He finished fourth, losing by 3 3/4 lengths. Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer marvels at his gelding’s consistency.“Horses get ups and downs and he just stays the same and he does whatever we ask him to do,” he said. “He seems very happy and enthusiastic about it.”Moreno returned $4.80 and $4.20 in his first start since getting slammed hard out of the starting gate in the BC Classic, while Catch a Flight was another head back in third and paid $4.20 to show. Hard Aces was fourth and Bronzo fifth.Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, aboard Catch a Flight, fell beyond the finish line.“He just tripped with me,” Stevens said. “He started to go down head-first and he caught himself. When he did, it shot me straight up in the air. I tried to tuck and I landed on my back. It knocked the wind out of me. I’m OK.”Co-owned by sports talk host Jim Rome, Shared Belief was coming off a victory over reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome in the San Antonio Invitational exactly a month ago. The gelding is based in the San Francisco Bay area, so Rome doesn’t see him often.“It’s like he shows up every single time _ he always runs big, is always tough and just has a lot of grit, a lot of heart,” Rome said. “He never disappoints.”Hollendorfer earned his second Big `Cap win, and first since 2008. He is another of the gelding’s co-owners.“I’m just so grateful to have a horse like this,” he said. “I’m very pleased to have this horse and hope that we can keep him racing well like he has been.”Crimson Giant, a 6-year-old gelding, finished last in the 13-horse field in his virtually unheard of 67th career start. He has just one win to his credit.There was $201,669 bet to place on Shared Belief.The victory, worth $600,000, increased Shared Belief’s career earnings to $2,932,200. –30–