TOMS RIVER, NJ – This week Toms River Township Councilman, Democrat Terrance Turnbach said he wants a homeless shelter built in town and if he has to do it himself, he’d put it in his own backyard. It might be a cause that could cost him his re-election in 2021, but it’s a noble cause he’s willing to fight for, even if residents of Toms River tell him they don’t want a homeless shelter in their backyard.
“I hear the people who are opposed to it, I read the social media. I see the comments. Turnbach can go build that in his backyard. You don’t know Turnbach, because Turnbach would build it in his backyard,” he said.
Turnbach, an attorney, lives in the Cranoor Manor section of town, one of the township’s wealthiest communities along the Toms River waterfront. Turnbach said he wants to see the shelter in “his backyard”, the Cranmoor Homeless Shelter?
Turnbach resides in the Cranmoor Manor section of Toms River, a nice quiet riverside neighborhood lined with multi-million dollar waterfront homes. We searched through Cranmoor Manor to find clues about where Turnbach wants to build this new, large facility to accommodate all of the homeless people here at the Jersey Shore and here’s what we found.
There’s only one place to build the homeless shelter in Turnbach’s backyard and he hinted on Tuesday where that might be.
While there are no lots large enough within the Cranmoor Manor neighborhood, on the edge of Cranmoor Manor the Township of Toms River owns a large 39.82-acre tract of land at the corner of Washington Street and Haines Road.
That site would be suitable for Turnbach’s homeless shelter. With recent changes to the Ocean County Natural Land Trust Fund, ironically enough, Freeholder Ginny Haines can purchase this land from the township, assessed at $5.53 million, which would be a windfall sale for Real Estate Agent, Mayor Mo Hill. Although Hill and Haines have bungled several potentially illegal land deals in recent months, this one could work, because it’s for a good cause.
Turnbach has faced sharp criticism from residents of Toms River over his desire to build a large homeless facility saying their opposition only motivates him, saying, “I will get it done…no matter what they say about me.”
“This idea that this is only a necessity from November through March because it’s cold misses the point, completely misses the point. These people don’t want the problems they have. The homeless are not faceless, they’re human beings,” Turnbach said.
Councilwoman Maria Maruca agreed with Turnbach’s plea for a homeless shelter…perhaps on the beachfront in Ortley Beach in the newly acquired parking lot across from the Surf Club?
On paper, this land is technically open space, but if we learned one thing over the past 30 days in Ocean County with borderline illegal land deals and raiding open space funds, open space isn’t really what it was when Freeholder Bartlet started the program at the county level.