My Fellow Yidden,
Recently, I was driving northbound on Cedar Bridge Avenue in Lakewood, NJ, whereupon my car began to fill with toxic fumes. Since as far as I was aware all was well with my car, I assumed the fumes where coming from outside the car. The fumes intensified. My eyes began to sting and I started coughing and gagging. I came to the realization that the fumes were emanating from within my vehicle. Before me, I noticed a thick cloud of smoke which appeared to be inside my car, proving my assumption. In an attempt to pull over, I swerved into the right lane and took out my cell phone to call for help. I suddenly noticed, on my left, an orange light flickering inside the forest. I then realized that, boruch Hashem, all was well, and I had merely driven by the communal furnace of Tent City.
I was a bit shaken up following this hazardous and potentially fatal incident, and I wondered how many others have had similar (or worse, G-d forbid) incidents. It was shortly following this incident that local community activists came forth to try to bring attention to the crisis that is Tent City, which resulted in the December 18, 2012 Township meeting.
Unfortunately, there are members of our very own community who are oblivious to the grave situation that Tent City poses. They either deny the significance or claim that community activists are acting in their own self-interest. It is imperative to understand the following two points:
1) The Tent City crisis affects you in a very direct way. If it doesn’t affect you today, it will affect you tomorrow. If it doesn’t affect you tomorrow, it will affect your children. You may not be frightened by the Tent City vagrants, but your children (and your wife) are. You may not have had any negative encounters with these people, but tomorrow, when Lakewood is a haven of criminals, thugs and a burgeoning homeless population, you will.
2) Even if the Tent City crisis never, ever affects you in any which way, it is affecting your friends, relatives and neighbors. There are children all over Lakewood who have a constant fear of running into one of “those hooligans” while they’re out and about.
The residents of Arlington Avenue, Melville Avenue and the surrounding areas are captives to the presence of the shady characters roaming around as they wish, along with frequent unpleasant confrontations, and are constantly subjected to the toxic carcinogenic smoke which they are forced to breathe.
The Tent City crisis is as real as ever, and the time has come to bring awareness to this threat and to finally resolve the issues. I have therefore started the “Honk Out Tent City” campaign. The issues at hand – the illegal activities, the unlawful inhabitation, the growing presence of present and former criminals and addicts, and perilous toxic fires – can be effectively “honked out.” When driving past Tent City, sound your horn. Hold down on the horn for the duration of the Tent City expanse. This will send a message to our elected officials that the time to resolve the issues has come and that we cannot go on this way any longer. This will also send a message to the Tent City squatters that we will no longer tolerate their unlawful presence, and that their illegal and dangerous activities are not welcome here. This will also raise awareness to the surrounding vehicles as well. If we honk long and we honk hard, our message will be heard.
I wish the Township and County much success in dealing with this unfortunate but critical issue, and I hope you’ll all join me in raising awareness and letting our voice be heard together. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our children.
A Concerned Resident