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As previously reported here on FAA News, (, Lipa Klein, an Askan (community activist) in the Hassidic Belz community in South Lakewood who is well known for lobbying for the Lakewood Shuttle buses, has made a proposal to the Lakewood Development Corporation to formally hire him under the title Shuttle Bus Liasion.

R' Lipa's proposal would cost a total of $75,000 of UEZ funds (a sales tax-supported grant which LDC administers). Of this money, $55,000 would be used for his annual salary and taxes, $15,000 would be used for spending on public relations marketing for the buses and $5,000 would be available for him to spend on a phone and computer.

For the past few years, Lakewood's Department of Public Works has been operating these buses to shuttle members of the Hassidic Belz and Satmar communities from their neighborhoods in South Lakewood to CHEMED and other businesses in Downtown Lakewood.

The Department of Public Works' own in-office staff is supposed to be able to provide phone support to community members who need information on the bus routes. This Department also maintains a website which posts the routes and schedules for their Industrial Park and Westgate - Forest Avenue bus routes. Curiously, the routes and schedules for the routes which Lipa is involved in are not currently posted on this website.

Lipa provided to the LDC members his phone call log from the past year. He claims that he received over 1,200 phone calls from community members regarding the buses.

At the LDC meeting in March, Board Member Rabbi Moshe Zev Weissberg presented the proposal to the LDC. Board Member Albert Isaac Akerman, who also serves on the Township Committee, questioned why there is a need for a separate Shuttle Bus Liasion when the Township should already be covering the needs for this service through Public Works. Board Member Rabbi Moshe Zev Weissberg responded that he doesn't know the answer, but that since this proposal came to his desk he wants to go forward with it.

Spending this amount of money legally requires a bid. The LDC proceeded to solicit bids for this position. They intended to open the bids and award this position at their recent meeting. However, at the meeting, Board Chairman Abe Mueller announced that he needs to "further review" this spending proposal and that the LDC will hold off on it for the time being.

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