Lakewood Industrial Commission (LIC) members recently admitted that they have no clue whether they are making money or losing money on The Strand. Minutes later, they voted to renew their property management agreement contract which includes finding tenants and setting the rent amounts!

Worse than that, they decided to deal with all the "prying eyes" questioning their finances by... starting to hide their finances!


The Strand building is owned by Lakewood Township. It used to be maintained by the Lakewood Development Corporation (LDC), one of the arms of the Township, until March 2019 when the building was transferred over to the LIC, another arm of the Township which also oversees the Lakewood Airport and promotes commercial growth in the industrial parks.

Separate from the theater room and banquet hall with bar on the ground floor which, as previously reported here on FAA News, the LIC continues to lease to Strand Ventures for $1 per year, there are a number of residential apartments upstairs.

For the past while, the LIC has contracted out their  property management needs regarding the residential apartments to Aggressive Property Maintenance, Inc. This contract includes reviewing potential tenants, preparing rental leases, and setting rent amounts.

At their monthly meetings, the LIC Board reviews their statement of accounts and lists of bills for the various Township-related entities which they oversee, including the airport and The Strand.

As can be seen in the Statement of Accounts for The Strand that was reviewed at their recent meeting, their bank statement balance went down from $192,622.65 in January 2023 to $178,459.02 in May 2023 - a shocking loss of $14,163.63!

This loss is apparently because the monthly utilities that the LIC pays for the building adds up more than the monthly rent that the LIC collects from its tenants.

According to the LIC's recent monthly bills, they pay over $9,300 in monthly property maintenance and utilities for the Strand building, and they collect under $7,500 in monthly rent from the residential tenants!

As it stands, the taxpayer and land-sale funded LIC expends more - on regular monthly bills - on the Strand building than it collects in revenue.

Think about this for a minute. What would any typical business manager do when they see black on white that their building is running their bank accounts red??

Apparently, when the bank accounts going red are Lakewood taxpayer funded, accounting to see what the cause of the loss is is NOT the answer. Instead the LIC's answer is to stop answering any questions and to start hiding their Statement of Accounts from the public.

But first they needed to ever so quietly renew their contract to Aggressive Property Maintenance, Inc!

Yup! All in a day's work!

This is not the first time that FAA News has reported on The Strand. This is also not the first time that the LIC has tried to cover up the situation with The Strand.

Back here in June 2022, FAA News reported that the theater is leased out to Strand Ventures for $1 annually. This lease includes a provision that they are supposed to pay for the utilities they use. However, instead of the tenant paying their own bills, oddly their lease states that the owner gets charged for these utilities and the tenant is required to repay for the utilities when the owner demands repayment. Strand Ventures gets away with not paying for these bills, which is why the LIC's monthly bills are higher than the rent they collect.

Following this initial report, some members of the public began to poke around and ask questions. Shockingly, as reported here on FAA News, instead of providing simple explanations for this apparent discrepancy, the LIC worked overtime crafting various ways to hide and avoid answering questions on this topic.

At the LIC's recent meeting, Board Member Shlomo Katz - who rarely shows up to any LIC meeting - popped in and asked some uncomfortable questions regarding The Strand. He stated, "we were given The Strand thinking that we would break even, however, after reviewing the Statement of Accounts, if someone today asked me point blank if we are breaking even, making, or losing, from The Strand, I would have no clue what to answer them!"

At that point, the rest of the Board, along with Executive Director Steven Reinman, came up with a very diligent way of dealing with "this whole issue" - by stopping their current practice of publishing online their Statement of Accounts!

Mr. Reinman explained, "it's a fair question and one we have been getting asked recently. I think we should not show the Statement of Accounts every month because that will make questions!"

So... apparently, their whole entire concern is solely as to the prying eyes of the members of the public (who just so happen to be the very taxpayers who fund the LIC and The Strand)!

(Notice that nobody has yet answered Mr. Katz's uncomfortable question of whether they are breaking even, making, or losing. Rather, they just "dealt with" the uncomfortable question!)

Once they got this uncomfortable issue out of the way, the LIC got busy quietly renewing Aggressive Property Maintenance's contract!

And then, immediately after the meeting, the LIC removed all the Statement of Accounts from the past few meetings off the Township website!

By way of explanation, back in the days pre-covid, the LIC used to post a draft agenda several days prior to their monthly meeting, and at their in-person meetings they would distribute to the members of the public their full packet including their Statement of Accounts and List of Bills. There was a portion during the meeting where members of the public could ask questions on LIC matters including their finances.

Once their meetings began to be held virtually, the public comment portion moved to being available via email prior to the meeting. In line with this provision, they began to publish online their full meeting packet including their Statement of Accounts and List of Bills. The full packet was typically published a day or so prior to the meeting.

As members of the public began submitting more and more uncomfortable questions regarding The Strand's finances, as previously reported here and here on FAA News, they used the excuse that their "rules and regulations" stipulate that comments needed to be submitted 8 hours prior to the meeting and that they "only accept comments regarding that day's agenda."

At the same time, they ensured that they didn't publish their full meeting packet until much less than 8 hours prior to the meeting, so they would hopefully steer clear of any uncomfortable questions!

According to emails obtained by FAA, numerous times, public comment emails are sent to the LIC are sent during the meeting - and not 8 hours prior to the meeting as directed in the LIC's guidelines.

These emails were always regarding LIC business but not necessarily related to the specific items on that day's agenda.

Not once has the LIC refused to answer questions regardless of whether or not the questions met the criteria of the guidelines or whether or not they were related to the specific items on that day's agenda - until the questions started to relate to The Strand's finances....

As previously reported here on FAA News, following this episode, at a Township Committee meeting a member of the public asked Mayor Coles for his input regarding this problem with the LIC.

Mayor Coles responded that he spoke to Steve Reinman and he notified him that the Township Committee accepts public comments during their meetings and the LIC should be able to do the same thing.

So, at that point the LIC needed to accept comments during their meetings, which meant that members of the public could again submit uncomfortable questions regarding The Strand's finances...

Following this renewed level of transparency, the LIC has now crafted yet a new method to steer clear of the "prying public" - hiding their Statement of Accounts completely!

How crafty indeed!

(In case you are wondering what the LIC could do to increase their revenue and balance their books, here is a reminder that they actually worked overtime to ensure that they would not need to accept any offers to rent the theater to any bonafide higher paying tenant! After anyways receiving bonafide offers for higher paying tenants, as previously reported here on FAA News, the LIC chose to ignore the bonafide offers for higher paying tenants and they renewed Strand Ventures' lease.)

By the way, the LIC continues to hold meetings virtually "due to constraints imposed by the State of New Jersey and the Township of Lakewood in their efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic." These meetings do not comply with the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act for several reasons. Stay tuned!

Related reading: The Strand is not the only topic that the LIC uses their virtual meetings to hide behind.

As previously reported here and here on FAA News, the LIC also used their virtual meetings to shy away from prying eyes asking uncomfortable questions regarding the Township's banquet hall ordinance. As previously reported here and here on FAA News, the LIC also used their virtual meetings to shy away from prying eyes asking uncomfortable questions regarding the Township's high rise buildings ordinances.

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Velvel said...

Curious minds have a big question; What does steven reinman think his job is supposed to be??

Anonymous said...

The current Mayor,and for the past few terms has a vested interest in the Strand, which shall remain for the foreseeable future.

So just shut up, he's doing a great job for the "ones in control".

Anonymous said...

It's common knowledge for years that Ray Coles has the Strand as his baby and is untouchable.

Someone has to get down to the bottom of this, one and for all.

Anonymous said...

$trand and Mayor Cole$ were $ynonymou$ for at least 20 years.