The Gables Residents Association in Neptune will celebrate its 15th anniversary next year and the organization still spearheads maintaining the quality of life for residents living there.
“Preserve and maintain is our motto,” past association president Michale D. Fornino said.
According to Fornino, the association was started in 2000 when Jersey Shore University Medical CenterMemorial University Hospital, located just to the east of the Gables section, wanted to build a large parking garage at Route 33 and Wakefield Road, one of the main entrances into the neighborhood.
“We felt that would have destroyed the character of our residential neighborhood so we circulated a letter to the 436 homes here and asked residents to attend the Planning Board meeting on the project- which we did.
“So many people showed up you couldn’t even have fallen over and people were very upset. We made a good case for our objections,” Fornino said.
He said residents didn’t object to the parking garage itself but where it was being placed. In the end, the hospital decided to build the garage in the rear of the building, on the site of the heliport. The heliport was then moved to the top of the parking garage, which worked out better for the hospital and its patients, Fornino said.
But ever since then, he said the hospital has been a wonderful neighbor to the association.
“Even though it started out in an adversarial vein, since that time the hospital has been a very good citizen and cooperative with the association,” he said.
Fornino said that resident Blanche Jones suggested the protest movement be turned into a more permanent force in the community and the Gables Residents Association was born.
The Gables is a small community, off Route 33, tucked between the hospital to the east and Route 18 to the west. Houses there date back to the 1950s or later and there are only three main streets that run through the neighborhood.
Fornino, who lives on Fulham Place, said the association invites other Gables residents to get involved and become members.
“We are trying to increase membership so there can be more influence for our own section of the township. We have a limited active membership but we can do so much more. All you have to do it show up at a meeting and bring your particular concerns,” he said.
The Association meets at 3 p.m. on the third Sunday every month, except in July and August, in the Fellowship Hall at the West Grove United Methodist Church, at Route 33 and Walnut Street.